Frequently Asked Questions
About Overseas Assignments
Q: How do I learn about international opportunities
offered through your office?
A: Assignments are announced on our program page, in agency newsletters, through NIFA national
program leaders (and their networks), and to university
contacts throughout the United States. International Programs
maintains an e-mail list of people interested in overseas
assignments. To subscribe, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Include your full name, title, and university affiliation
in the message.
Q: I am not affiliated with a university. Does this
disqualify me from consideration?
A: The International Programs office exists not only to
provide technical assistance to other countries, but also
to provide faculty and staff at cooperating universities
with international experience that we believe enriches the
entire university community. International development is
certainly a two-way street, and the personal and professional
growth resulting from an overseas assignment is invaluable.
Our office was established with this in mind. We cannot,
therefore, enter into contractual agreements with individuals
or organizations outside this university community. On rare
occasions, when an individual not employed by a university
was the top candidate for an assignment,
July 23, 2007
ced on their rolls for the duration of the assignment. Even in these cases,
the individual has usually had a prior connection to that university. Also,
given the tremendous human resources available to us through cooperating universities,
it is rare that we cannot find qualified personnel within this system.
Q: Do you send university personnel on overseas
assignments after they have retired?
A: As mentioned, a mandatory function of our international
programs office is to assist in strengthening our university
partners by providing international experience for their
faculty and staff. These individuals return to the United
States with a wealth of knowledge and an improved ability
to do their jobs. The university system does not benefit
from this experience when a retiree returns home and is not
an active member of the university community. For this reason,
we give priority to those who are current employees of cooperating
universities. If a retiree is used for an overseas assignment,
he/she must come back on as a university employee for the
duration of the assignment.
Q: How does the selection process for overseas assignments
A: We usually request that individuals interested in specific
assignments send us a resume. Those whose qualifications most closely
match the requirements for the assignment are notified and
Q: What are my chances of being selected for an
overseas assignment through your office?
A: This, of course, varies a great deal and depends on an
individual's background and the nature of the assignments
we are trying to fill. An agricultural economist with overseas
experience or a county extension director with foreign language
skills is much more likely to have opportunities than someone
with a background less in demand. On the average, our office
may place only about 25-30 people per year on overseas assignments.
Given the numbers of people at cooperating universities interested
in this type of work, we encourage people to seek other avenues
for foreign experience.
Q: How important is the ability to speak a foreign
A: Our major recent projects have been in countries such
as Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Bulgaria. We have
not been able to find many people at cooperating universities
who have both the necessary experience and fluency in languages
spoken in these countries. Therefore, most of the work is
done using full-time translators. Knowledge of a foreign
language such as French or Spanish can be a strong advantage
(and sometimes a requirement) for assignments in Africa and
Q: Must I have overseas experience to be considered
for an overseas assignment?
A: While prior work overseas is an advantage, we sometimes
place individuals with little or no experience. For some
countries and assignments where there are significant cross-cultural
obstacles to overcome, this experience becomes more of a
priority. We also consider the experience that people have
had here in the United States working with diverse clientele
when considering their ability to adapt to a foreign culture.
Q: How long are assignments overseas?
A: Assignments can range from 2-3 weeks for very specific
activities to a year or longer for project director positions.
Most average about 6-8 months; we have found this length
of time enables people to assess needs and develop and implement
programs to transfer sufficient skills and knowledge to others.
Q: How will my salary and benefits be affected while
I am overseas?
A: Salary and benefits continue to be paid by the university
with funds that we provide to the university on a reimbursable
basis. Individuals on assignment usually receive their base
salary increased an additional 10 percent for working overseas.
For assignments that extend beyond 42 days, people sometimes
receive a “post differential” in addition to
their base salary. See Getting
Ready for Your Overseas Assignment.
Q: How are arrangements such as passports, visas,
and airline tickets handled?
A: Our office provides the logistical support for obtaining
passports and visas. We also book and pay for all airline
tickets. See Getting Ready for
Your Overseas Assignment.
Q: How are in-country living expenses handled, and
what will living conditions be like?
A: We use project funds to pay people per diem for serving
overseas. Most expenses related to living and working overseas
are covered. Living conditions will vary depending on the
country and whether you are in a rural or urban setting.
Typically, people on assignment live in furnished one- or
two-bedroom apartments with hot and cold running water and
Q: Can spouses or other family members accompany
me on my overseas assignment?
A: Yes, but for most assignments (those shorter than 1 year)
we cannot cover any expenses related to other family members.
Since we cover lodging expenses and the per diem we provide
is often more than enough for one person on the local economy,
many have found that it is not much more expensive to have
a spouse accompany them. The largest out-of-pocket expense
is the airline ticket. Our office can provide information
that will help individuals decide whether bringing family
members is feasible.
Back to Global Engagement Home Page