International Exchange for Late-Career Professionals

A small group of people are seated in a boat on a river. Most are people of color wearing dress common to Bangladesh. A white man with grey hair sits to the far right.
U.S. traveler Dan Close (far right) enjoys a boat ride in Bangladesh during Empower, a State Department-funded professional exchange program.
Over 45 and itching to travel? It's never too late to gain professional development experience or to share your wealth of knowledge in another country!

Before you begin your search, consider:

  • Type of experience. Are you interested in conducting academic research? Service-learning/volunteering? Sharing your expertise with a local community?
  • Length of program. Would a short-term program (ranging from a few weeks to a few months) be ideal, or are you interested in a longer-term experience (6-24 months)?
  • Cost. Do you want to limit your search to fully-funded programs (which are more competitive) or would you also be open to fee-based exchange programs (which can be spendy)?
  • Age requirements. As you peruse fellowship programs, especially the fully-funded ones, be sure to note the eligibility requirements. Many of them are geared towards people 45 and under. That said, programs like Fulbright and Peace Corps have no upper age limit.

Read an article about how Americans over the age of 50 are a valuable asset to the Peace Corps Community

A sampling of programs to explore:

  • Fulbright Specialist Program, U.S. Department of State-sponsored – Add yourself to a roster to be invited by various countries who seek your particular expertise for 2-6 week assignments, with expenses covered.
  • Rotary Peace Fellowship - The Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand provides a three month, certificate program twice a year to individuals currently working in related fields.
  • Peace Corps – Time commitments vary; The traditional program is 2 years, but those with significant professional and technical experience may qualify for the Peace Corps Response Volunteer positions, which range from 3-12 months. Expenses are covered.
  • Road Scholar – Offers experiential learning opportunities for older adults; financial assistance may be available.

Do you work in the field of international education administration? U.S. Department of State-sponsored, Fulbright's short-term International Education Administrators seminars might be right for you!

But don't stop there! Use these tips to expand your search:

  • Get involved in local citizen diplomacy efforts. Find a Community-Based Member of Global Ties U.S. in your state to learn about opportunities to meet and host international visitors, network with global leaders, and apply for the occasional opportunity for U.S. participants to go abroad.
  • Scope out fellowship opportunities online on the website ProFellow.com. Once there, fill out an online form to narrow down the wide breadth of fellowships to those which are relevant to your interests and eligibility.
  • Explore volunteer and teaching opportunities online on the website GoAbroad.com. Note that most of the programs listed are fee-based and geared towards a younger demographic of college students and recent grads, but don't let that deter you!
  • Investigate opportunities to go abroad through your employer. Incorporate an international exchange component into the grants you apply for like Jacob Lesner-Buxton, who went to Siberia through his work with the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley. Suggest a team-building community service trip abroad with your staff, like Tracy Cherba, who traveled with professional colleagues to volunteer in Peru. Go for assignments that entail partnerships and projects abroad like Seth Bravin, who traveled to Indonesia through his employer IBM.
  • Find out what others are doing abroad! Browse our collection of stories about people with disabilities who have participated in international exchange outside the realm of study abroad: professional programs, language programs, volunteer abroad, and more.