His company’s world headquarters are in Germany and as part of leadership development, the company sends Americans to Germany and vice versa. We didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity, but the thought of what I would do for work certainly crossed my mind and made me a little nervous. I’ve been working since I was 16 years old, well, earlier if you count babysitting, and I had no idea what I would do if I didn’t go to work every day.
Luckily, after a few months of being a stay at home wife, I was able to find, not one but two, jobs in Germany. It certainly wasn’t easy and I had a lot of help (and luck), but I feel much more fulfilled in my day to day life, as well as that I’m contributing to our family. I thought I’d share my “advice” for others who are thinking about moving abroad! If you’ve ever found a job abroad, please share your story in the comments!
Network, Network, Network. The overdone answer that everyone’s sick of hearing. I am an outgoing person, but networking as a verb is daunting. I didn’t think I was very good at it until I really needed it. Once you start talking to people, you’ll be amazed at how many are willing to help you.
Luckily for me, the job I had prior to our move to Germany also had an office in the same area of Germany. Being in marketing, it was very difficult to find a job that fit my skill set but didn’t require proficiency in the German language. I had to really sell myself and how I could use what I know to help there German office.
I sent emails to anyone and everyone I knew to discuss potential opportunities, scheduled calls before I left the States and had informational meetings once I arrived in Germany. Just getting my name out there and letting people know that I was moving to Germany and looking for a job was a great way to start. The earlier the better.
The one piece that made the biggest difference: finding the one person who will fight on your behalf. The director of marketing was that person for me. He did everything he could, used his network and was able to find me something.
Be willing to compromise/Be open. The ideal job for me isn’t really available in Germany, unless I become fluent in German. I lowered my expectations and it opened a whole new world of opportunities for me. Initially, I wanted to work full-time, obviously, but when I was having difficulty finding a job, I told people that I would be willing to work part-time or from home.
In the same vein, be open to other industries or occupations. I love English and thought about being a teacher in middle school, but I certainly don’t have any traditional training. But, I was open to any opportunity and I’ve found that I really enjoying teaching.
Ask your friends or even acquaintances. And this is different from networking because it was just a simple conversation with a practical stranger that ended up being really beneficial. I found my online teaching job through our pet sitter. She teaches at the same company and offered to be a reference for me. I’ve never would have found the company if it wasn’t for her. Open dialogue with anyone you talk to about what they do for work, if there are any openings or if they know other people within your industry. You never know what doors will open because of this.
Start early. It will take a lot longer than you expect to find a job. If you are contemplating a move abroad, start searching for something now. Whether you want to teach English for a year or want a corporate job, start the minute you have the initial thought. I know there are companies out there who will you help you find a teaching job abroad and even help with living expenses, but it can take up to a year to get hired and complete all the necessary paperwork.
Remember that this is a short-term job. The move abroad is always going to look great on a resume. You’re expanding your horizons, understanding a new culture and language, and building memories and skills that will last a lifetime. The move should help grow your career no matter what, but if what you find is not your ideal, remember that it’s only temporary and the benefits will certainly outweigh any negatives you experience. Of course, you don’t want to be miserable, but if it’s within the realm of what you do and is interesting for you, give it a shot! Odds are you won’t regret it.
Have fun. Finding and starting a new job is stressful. Keep it in the back of your mind that you are going to have so much fun once you move abroad and to focus on the positives. The search is an experience in and of itself, so you might as well have fun while you’re doing it. Apply for anything and everything interesting. Be creative with your emails. And don’t stress too much. You will find something and the experience will forever be with you.
Have you ever worked abroad? How’d you find your job? If you didn’t have your current job, what would you be doing?
I have certainly touched on some of the cultural differences between life in Germany…
You would think getting mail would be the same everywhere, wouldn’t you…