Considering the current state of the United States—politically, climate-wise, and health-wise— you may be itching to get out of the country. As long as you’re not planning to head to Korea, Japan, or Iran, you have a number of options before you. You may be curious about your future job prospects in social justice, social entrepreneurship, and sustainability and wondering what the future holds for you.
Well, the world, as it presently stands, holds a great deal of potential for young, digitally-literate professionals willing to work from anywhere—provided they have the tools to do so. Although there is a modest up-front investment, once you have a reliable laptop, a stable source of online income, and a ticket to where you want to go, you’ll be set! Better yet, if you begin in one particular industry but yearn to develop skills in another, now you can also study and take classes online to become well-versed in a new career. Read on to learn more about how you can be well on your way to flying across the Atlantic or Pacific toward a new life adventure.
The New Frontier of Remote Work
Before you pack that suitcase, make sure you have a job lined up before you leave. If you don’t have a corporate remote position, there are also companies that have branches that are located overseas. Better yet, there are even programs that allow you to work and study abroad simultaneously, combining academic experiences with internships or entry-level positions. But consider the statistics: the most oft-cited reason people want flexible work options is because it offers them more opportunities to travel. And if you want to make it on your own, there are ample options for freelance work, as well.
One good thing to keep in mind is that the reliability of Internet connections abroad varies, depending on the carrier, country and particular location. For example, Wi-Fi is apparently much less convenient and more expensive in some countries—like Bali or Spain—and more affordable and reliable in places like Thailand or Poland. You’ll want to factor that reliability into your decision, and be sure to plan for it in your budget. You might be surprised at how many options are opening up for young women who want to become citizen journalists, travel bloggers, or “digital nomads,” so get out there and do your research.
Technology & the New College Experience
Say you want to develop your academic credentials in an area that interests you and that you’re a little familiar with, but in which you’re not as well-versed. Have you ever considered earning a graduate degree or online credential in an industry like IT, business, or education? Nowadays, a growing number of programs are conducted online. This is due in part to the changing needs of prospective students.
As more people return to school to earn a second or third degree in hopes of eventually earning a higher income, students today are becoming more connected than ever. For example, the Pew Research Center reports that 62 percent of college graduates in 2015 owned a tablet. Ironically, however, the same survey found that only 63 percent of academic leaders believe online education to be “critical to the long-term strategy” of their institution. It seems there is a disconnect between the number of people who want access to higher education online and the traditional concept of undergraduate and graduate level education—from the teaching perspective, at least.
As with working from remote location, studying from a remote location offers the advantage of having a uniquely international perspective that could come in handy—especially if you decide to major in something like international finance or German, for example. Having direct experience with the culture and language you seek to better understand can give you an edge when applying to positions after graduation.
Millennials & Social Entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship is based around producing a good or service to solve a social problem, and—perhaps surprisingly—organizations that spring up around the concept aren’t necessarily non-profit, by default. According to Ben Thornley, 60 percent of U.S. social enterprises were created in 2006 or later, and 29 percent have sprung up since 2011.
For example, there are social enterprises built around lending money in the form of micro-loans to small business owners in communities with few resources at their disposal—such as that of Muhammad Yunus, the “father of microcredit,” who called out the practices of local, predatory lenders and identified how to use his own capital to start Grameen Bank, which specializes in microloans. Keep in mind, though, that in order to become a successful social entrepreneur, you should possess a few specific traits: creativity, a deep commitment to social justice, and a willingness to get involved via direct action and participation in the causes you care about.
One last valuable skill is the ability to communicate effectively with others—in other words, good public speaking skills. Dr. Anita Leffel argues that public speaking skills are essential for anyone hoping to become an entrepreneur. She cites Ted Anderson, curator of TED talks, in listing the specific skills that comprise presentation literacy: find a theme and connect all points to that through-line; research your idea for related issues, but focus on one essential idea; outline your speech; and practice repeatedly until it feels natural.
Advancements in Wearable Technology
Many wearable devices, these days, resemble their typical, unconnected equivalents. For example, there are now smartwatches with faces in the the style of popular brands like Fossil and Swatch. To address the issue of safety for female solo travelers, SIREN makes a device disguised as a fashion ring that can emit a loud, piercing sound intended to distract and confuse potential attackers. In fact, the most desirable type of wearable technology for the next generation is apparently a panic or SOS button. On that note, it’s important to keep in mind that certain destinations are safer than others for women traveling alone.
In terms of practical devices for city navigation, there are now wearable items of clothing like shoes and watches that give directions and notifications via haptic vibrations or “Force Touch.” For example, the “smart-shoe” by easyJet (currently only a prototype) works in conjunction with Google Maps to let you know which way to turn, if you’re walking in the wrong direction, and when you’ve arrived at your destination. And there are even more smart shoes currently in the process of being developed. All this wearable technology is attempting to make travel more convenient, connected, and safer. Needless to say, these developments are especially useful for young women eager to explore new cities on their own.
Data Protection & Mobile Security
While these emerging technologies are exciting for many of us, some are understandably concerned about privacy safeguards in the face of increased monitoring and tracking via smartphone GPS and wearable data sharing. For example, some employer-based wellness programs encourage employees to wear Fitbits in order to track their activity levels—leading some to argue that level of information collection goes too far over the privacy line.
These privacy concerns have inspired legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is primarily concerned with data privacy in the EU, but may also apply to companies with Canadian and North American offices. The protection of data will be far-reaching, requiring companies to obtain unambiguous consent when collecting personal data via data controllers and processors, as well as a privacy impact assessment to account for the risks of processing and identifying potential safeguards.
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Is there anywhere in particular you dream of going, worldwide? What social justice issues speak to you personally, as a global citizen?
The reality of global economics and the new gig economy is that most of us in the United States are much more privileged than many in the developing world. For many, the only barrier to traveling abroad may be the cost of a plane ticket and a modest travel budget. How can you help others while documenting your experience and paying for your travel expenses, at the same time?
Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
Image Source: Dimitry Anikin