Millennials: A Generation Pre-Packaged for Working Abroad

Grab And Go Highlights

  • Millennials are by far the most more open-minded, liberal generation — crucial traits for successfully assimilating in another culture.
  • We are pre-packaged for working abroad: no house, no partner, and no kids makes for easy shipping.
  • We are not just comfortable working in the cloud and remotely, we prefer working that way; a great trait to have when working thousands of miles away.

Let me feed the millennial stereotype that millennials all think they are special by saying: millennials are a special generation.

Well, maybe not special, but we are unique. We are coming of age at a time when the world has never been more globalized (which, yes is the case with most generations) or when working remotely has been easier or more widely accepted. We are also the most technologically savvy generation and the most liberal in terms of our openness to new cultures and new ideas.

This makes us uniquely qualified to excel in a professional position abroad and to work successfully across cultural lines.

Now, some hiring managers might say why would I send a recent graduate or new hire on an international assignment? That is for more senior level employees!

Well, good sir or madame, I am glad you asked. Consider this:

Millennials are Way Liberal

No matter your political leanings, when it comes to working abroad, being socially liberal, or at least tolerant, is crucial. The variance between country’s social norms is wide ranging and a person’s ability to maintain a tolerant and objective perspective is important to their success both in the workplace as well as enjoying their time abroad. Who knows how different politically and socially your new coworkers will be, but it takes an open mind to roll with the social norms of another culture.

And in this sense, Millennials have a great advantage over the generations who have come before us.  

Millennials are significantly more liberal on a whole range of issues. In an article for the Atlantic, Derek Thompson writes that Millennials are significantly more liberal than our parents, “..particularly on three social issues—gay rights, immigration, and marijuana—…” Additionally, a Pew Social Trends report showed we are more tolerant when compared to Gen X, the Boomers and the Silent generation on subjects like interracial marriage, people living together without getting married, and gay couples getting married.

Young millennial hippies hanging out
 Millennials are by substantially more liberal than any other generation.

That trait of tolerance found in Millennials is important. When you send someone abroad, or recruit internationally, the candidate you are looking for must be tolerant and open-minded in order to cope with the new culture they find themselves in. This is important both in terms of assimilating to their work environment as well as building a social circle outside of work. The inability to assimilate due to a more conservative or close-minded perspective can ultimately be detrimental to the assignment as a whole.  

You are far more likely to find that open-minded candidate in a pool of recent millennial graduates than you are a candidate from any other generation.  

Logistically, We are Pre-Packaged For Shipping

To bring in an international recruit or send a single employee internationally is challenging logistically for both the employee and employer. Imagine the complexity added if a candidate has a house, children, a partner, and other strings attached? That is a lot of moving parts to juggle.

Millennials are lucky (in sort of a sad way) to not be burdened with all that extra baggage. We really are pre-package for international shipping to anywhere.  We are less likely to own a home,  we get married later than any generation before, and are waiting much later to have children. And where our parents valued life in the suburbs and filling their two car garages full of stuff, we are far more interested in experiences over material wealth.

An open suitcase with a watch, a shirt, an a bottle of whiskey inside
Millennials don’t own much, making us easy to ship anywhere.

What does this mean? Our lifestyles are light. We have our clothes, a laptop, a phone…and that is about it. In contrast to previous generations, we don’t have any strings attached back home that would inhibit a move abroad, making us easy as pie to ship out to wherever you need us to be.

Flexible Workers: Namaste

Cloud platforms like Slack, Skype Google Drive, Bootcamp, Asana and other cloud tools have become ubiquitous with office work across industries. Personally, someone sending me a Word doc that I have to open, make changes to, re-save, re-upload, send back, and do that all repeatedly is nightmarish.  It is like imagining a time when cars had square wheels: WHY WOULD YOU EVER DO THAT?!

What cloud tools have allowed is an increased ability to work from anywhere, a level of flexibility that Millennials find very attractive. Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey found that remote working and flexible hours were the second most important factor when assessing job opportunities.

Girl on a mountain doing a yoga pose.
Millennials are super flexibility and happy to work remotely.

Our propensity for working in the cloud and remotely perfectly aligns with the demands of international work and efficiency when working remotely.

Take Advantage of Millennial Talent

For a manager to send Millennials on international assignments, or to recruit them internationally, is to impart a strong sense of trust in their recent hires, as well as take advantage of the skills that they posses.

A Millennial’s liberal sense allows us easier assimilation into different cultures, we do not have strings attached back home that members of other generations might have, and we are comfortable with the technology needed to excel abroad.

And that makes us a great group for working abroad.  

What do you think? Are you interested in moving abroad but have reservations about moving far from home? Given the opportunity to work abroad would you take it? Are you already working abroad? Let me know on Twitter @12hrdifference.


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Aaron Horwath Written by:

Since graduating from the University of Portland in 2014, I have worked abroad. Currently, I live and work in Da Nang, Vietnam as the Head of Global Training at an international technology company. Through my blog, I share my experiences of working abroad to give others a glimpse into international life and help them decide if working internationally is right for them.