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Working Abroad Advice

#1 Working Abroad Advice
28/10/2015 09:42


Hi All,

I am early on in my career as a consultant and an opportunity has arisen to work abroad (another country within the EU). I have no ties (wife/girlfriend) to keep my here in the UK so I am thinking about going as the role will push me out of my comfort zone and it will provide me with new skills, at the same time the project team sound like they have a good time in-between the work. Before I accept and go I thought it may be worthwhile asking if anyone else has worked abroad and if they had any tips. The main questions I had included:

Did working abroad progress your career faster than what would have occurred if you had stayed in the UK?

Does having a foreign project add much to your CV or do future employers focus on the project and the skills used regardless of location?

Are there any negatives you have found from working abroad?

Any tips anyone has about working abroad?

Would you recommend doing it?

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#2 RE: Working Abroad Advice
28/10/2015 18:31

Frio to Dennis12 (#1)


I've worked abroad, the longest was for 6 months at a relatively early point in my career. . Since then, I've spent small amounts of time working abroad. Usually for a few weeks at a time.

Did working abroad progress your career faster than what would have occurred if you had stayed in the UK?

The 6 months really helped me, the company's board was based in France and I was working in the head office. The MD of the UK business unit came over every two weeks and was always looking for someone to drink with, as I was the only other English person there, I boozed with him every two weeks for 6 months. It helped me a lot.

I've seen it have varying impacts on careers.

Will you be working abroad, but still have your contract of employment with the UK entity? Where will your performance review take place?

I've seen people work abroad for long periods of time and only get average performance reviews because their work is not well known or it's seen that it's easier to succeed in the other geography. i.e. if you're working in London and go to pretty much anywhere else, people (rightly or wrongly) will assume it's not as high profile etc etc.

Does having a foreign project add much to your CV or do future employers focus on the project and the skills used regardless of location?

It really depends on what the requirement of your future employer is. The positions I interview for often require an element of international travel, if you had some decent experience here, then it would be a positive thing. However, if the job was doing some data analysis in London then international experience would not be important.

Are there any negatives you have found from working abroad?

What happens if you need to get back to the UK quickly? Will your company support you in this?

The other negative, which is not applicable in your case, is spending large amounts of time away from the wife and family.

I've always worked in interesting places when working abroad, but you could in theory go to some right dodgy places.

Any tips anyone has about working abroad?

Commit to learning the language. Ask, or make it a condition, your employer to pay for lessons.

Find the local English pub, I found that girls who a) liked English men b) wanted to practice their English would go.

Put yourself out there - otherwise you could be in for a lonely experience.

Would you recommend doing it?


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#3 RE: Working Abroad Advice
29/10/2015 15:10

marsday to Dennis12 (#1)

I find myself a little depressed that you even ask these questions (although Frio gave some great advice). It depresses me because you cant see the wood for the trees. You are not your career. The opportunity to live and work abroad will only develop you as a person, and in the longer term that will pay dividends you cannot even imagine yet. Do you really want to be a London based little Englander with a limited global perspective based largely on facts digested through the internet and an endless flood of biased news coverage, or someone who is comfortable in their own skin, assimilates different cultures easily, and is at home anywhere. Go abroad, no matter where you are sent there will be something positive to take away from it. Unless its Brussels in which case chain yourself to one of those Boris Bike railings and refuse to move until Labour wins an election.

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#4 RE: Working Abroad Advice
30/10/2015 04:09

Camster to marsday (#3)

I echo the sentiments above.

Go for it, Dennis. In life, you will regret things that you don't do, not so much the other way round.

To cite an example, I regret not climbing/trekking Kinabalu, Kilimanjaroo, Machu Pichu. Even had an opportunity to do Everest, but I did not do it. I did not do it when I was young and fit. I doubt I'll be able to do these things now.

For me, since childhood, everything was a 'cultural enrichment' experience. We moved where my dad was posted. Uni in the UK was a great experience as well. My first role was based in Genoa, Italy. I was mugged in Genoa and in Sao Paulo. I was thrown at the back of an immigration police van in Almaty. Was in a helicopter in Cambodia with armed security. Dodged bullets in South Africa. I am fluent in more languages that I can count with my fingers. There is no substitute for such experiences.

Mars is spot on. This experience will develop you as a person.

Career? You will never know how this experience will help you in the years to come. When I joined a new company in industry, I had a Swedish boss. We got along really well. I talked about my childhood in Sweden and said, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad attire".

Some points re. career:

-Imagine the stories you can tell! Story-telling is a good skill to have.

-Imagine speaking to Chinese colleagues in Putonghua or Guangdonghua? Or Italian colleagues in Italian?

-Imagine seducing your French female boss in French?

Go for it.

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#5 RE: Working Abroad Advice
30/10/2015 10:34

Mr Cool to Camster (#4)

Hi Camster,

I saw Spectre last night - thought it was quite action packed until I read your post....

Doo-doo-doo-doooooo-da-na-na, the names Camster, I like to stir my women and leave them shaken like a dry martini....

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#6 RE: Working Abroad Advice
30/10/2015 22:49

Camster to Mr Cool (#5)

I had a bunch of friends in Cambs who were very active. I missed out on quite a few outings. A mistake. Was stupidly thinking about 'career'. Come to think of it, it's only later on that I took time out on work trips to explore the place I was in.

My days in industry were really 'eventful'. Once, we even had a tower in Sulaimaniyah that was bombed out! I have pictures somewhere.

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#7 RE: Working Abroad Advice
11/11/2015 07:46

vnhumr to Dennis12 (#1)

Hi Dennis,

You're young, so no need to be so careful like that. Even in the case it's not a career driving force as you want, you will get other huge experiences. Just take the chance.

About tips for working abroad, I have some suggestion for you:

1. Be well-prepared

Make sure you know thoroughly living condition, climate, working environment... before moving. You can ask the company for help if needed.

2. When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Before working in a completely strange country, you have to study their language (even they can speak English well), culture (especially social norms).

Take the time to learn this information to avoid unnecessary shocks: ask a few friends and relatives have experienced or are living in that country, or you can also ask directly HR in charge of contact and contract with you, I believe they are willing to help.

Adaption might be the key factor for your career development in a new country.

Best luck!

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#8 RE: Working Abroad Advice
11/11/2015 09:56

Frio to Camster (#4)

-Imagine seducing your French female boss in French?

Just don't boast about it afterwards in earshot of the French peer that was also seduced (after months and months of trying)

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#9 RE: Working Abroad Advice
21/12/2015 07:37

semon to Dennis12 (#1)

Once you have to take care of all your opportunities at the present place.

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#10 RE: Working Abroad Advice
08/05/2017 14:03

Dennis13 to semon (#9)

Hi All,

Dennis here, forgot my password so had to create a new username - It’s been a while since I posted this thread and asked for your advice, I thought I would come back and let you know what I chose to do and what I would advise anyone else in the same position.

Firstly – just do it, as others mentioned it’s the things you don’t do you regret and looking back on this thread now I’m somewhat embarrassed that not only was I asking whether it was something I should do but that I was centering my decision around my career. I ended up taking the role and staying on the project for about 14 months before moving companies and taking up an opportunity at a smaller and more specialised company.

By the end of the project I had worked across several countries, managed people virtually, learnt about other cultures and experienced things I didn’t know I would like. Overall It was great and as long as you are willing to put yourself out there those you are visiting will be glad you are not only doing a good job but making the most of and enjoying their county. It has given me loads of stories; from missing flights, experiencing -23 Celsius in just a suit, eating some questionable food, relaxing in amazing airport lounges, being so far north that I did not experience daylight in November and did not see darkness in April to meeting some great people on flights.

Any questions, just post below.

Did working abroad progress your career faster than what would have occurred if you had stayed in the UK?

It certainly helped, as the project progressed I took on more responsibility, the project expanded into other European countries and I became responsible for aspects of each which my managers in the UK were aware of, just before I left the company I was being prepped for the next round of promotions. Being abroad is obviously not for everyone so the opportunities which exist to progress are more apparent in my experience and if you are keen and willing you can manoeuvre yourself into these positions.

Does having a foreign project add much to your CV or do future employers focus on the project and the skills used regardless of location?

During interviews for other companies this project was the one everyone wanted to hear about, maybe because it was the most recent but probably because it seems the most impressive. I think having experience of working with people outside of the UK and experiencing other cultures and work environments provides you with a wider perspective when completing work thereafter.

Are there any negatives you have found from working abroad?

There were no work-related downsides to working abroad. I found the negatives to be when it impacted my personal life, for instance, occasionally I’d have to travel back on a Friday arriving home around 11pm, occasionally I would have to fly Sunday evening, never emptying a suitcase and thinking about your flights, packing etc. on Sunday makes your weekends feel shorter. Sometimes you can feel like you haven’t got a minute to relax as your working to timings the whole day (catching the tube to get to the airport, to check in on time, to getting on the flight, to catching a taxi, to checking into the hotel, setting an alarm to wake up, catching a taxi to client site to go the scheduled meetings all day etc. etc.) but you can get use to it especially if you have your schedule nailed down. For this project the main client was 2 hours ahead of GMT, at the beginning this wasn’t too much of a problem when I was working in the UK however as time went on I had to change my working hours to start 2 hours earlier – I preferred this but I can imagine it would be a negative to some who aren’t early risers.

Any tips anyone has about working abroad?

  • Check bank holidays of the countries you will be visiting in advance. Otherwise the flight you were hoping to catch may just be fully booked and you will have to fly a day earlier to make that meeting.

    Check in asap to book the seat you want and I’d suggest booking near to an exit. The novelty of flying soon wears off and you’ll just want to get off the plane and get to the airport when you arrive.

    Credit card – I was paying for my own flights and accommodation and reclaiming back through expenses so if you are in the same position get a credit card one which provides you with airmiles (AMEX).

    Before you leave make sure you have food in the fridge for your return, there’s nothing worse than getting back home and having nothing there to eat that night or the next morning.

    Download all the apps (airports, hotels, taxis) you’ll be surprised how quickly the points/discounts add up and the offers they provide you

    Before you go research what activities you can do in the local area and give them a go, eat the local food and ask those who you are working with about the country and what to do in the area. Creating these relationships not only gives you something to do in the evenings but you get to experience the countries you are in.

  • Bullet 2

Would you recommend doing it?


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