Starting my career abroad was both exciting and challenging at the same time.
Working in multicultural environments not only gave me the boost I needed for my career, but it also gave me the opportunity to work both in French and English as well as develop my passions for diversity and people development.
Most international workers are also excited to work abroad. Despite being challenging and the fact that adjusting can be beyond confusing, working abroad is such an exciting international adventure that will definitely give you the push you need for your career.
There are many advantages of working abroad:
- Boost employability and career branding
- Achieve your dream career
- Learn and work with different cultures
- Network globally
However, if you are not managing your career abroad appropriately, you could end up stuck in an underpaid job, experience career dissatisfaction, being underemployed, or even worse, become unemployed.
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting trapped and make the best of your international career abroad.
1. Set the right cultural expectations
Working in a new place can challenge your own cultural values. Even if you are open minded, you might experience difficulties adjusting to a new culture. As a French born citizen, I lived in different places. Even though France is quite close to the Netherlands, I had my biggest cultural shock there because of a lack of preparation and unrealistic expectations. At first, I was quite resistant to the Dutch culture and language and, by lowering my expectations, I learned to adjust to the way of life here, learned the language, and began to appreciate the Dutch way of life. Being open to another cultural perspective is essential to a successful cultural career transition abroad.
2.Learn the language
Workers with a second language have a strong advantage and may climb the ladder quicker than a monolingual speaker. It is not only an advantage for your career, but you can also connect more easily with new people and become more attractive for employers with a niche multilingual profile. There is less chance for the competition and you could get the career that you want abroad instead of being underemployed in a career you do not want. For years, I was reluctant to learn Dutch, until I finally decided to stay in the Netherlands for a while. Not only has speaking the language helped me make genuine relationships, but it gave me great career opportunities as well.
3.Get a global network
Once you know the language, you can easily network globally without language barriers. Being genuine and meeting new people is essential to your professional success and boosting your confidence. There are various places where you can meet people with similar interests, such as in international associations, conferences, events, Toastmasters, conferences, and LinkedIn.
There is no need to pull your business card out and start a monologue about how great you are every time you meet someone new. Just make genuine connections based on common interests and offer your help. You will not only learn about the local culture; you can learn new cultural ways of working too.
Meet expats to share similar experiences and encounter locals to get a foot into their culture. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and gain greater understanding of the employment market. This is the perfect way to understand the local culture, boost your skills, and network with genuine people. If you are looking for a promotion or another job, volunteering could be the perfect way to make the transition as a bridge in your career abroad.
5. Work with an international company
Working with an international company will give you the chance to work in a multicultural context and have an opportunity to find permanent or temporary assignments. It will definitely give you the opportunity to adapt to other cultures, get international career perspectives, gain chances for advancement, and find better work choices.
So, when working abroad, you do not need to get stuck in the same underpaid, under-skilled job, while being unsatisfied or unemployed. Today is the opportunity to make the best of your career abroad. What are you waiting for when it comes to maximizing your international career?