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Questions for those who work(ed) abroad.

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by wj4, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. wj4

    wj4 Senior member

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    How was your experience overall?

    I would appreciate any feedback on this matter.

    I'm asking because I'm going to be wrapping up my MBA in December, and I'm thinking of working overseas for a while to gain cultural knowledge. A few of my professors highly suggest to the students to work in at least one other country if possible. One professor in particular has worked in 15 countries or so, and I always enjoyed his stories about culture shock, about how he got arrested in countries in the Middle East for not knowing their ways.

    Obviously, I would make sure I have the job first. I don't plan on just being an English teacher or anything of that nature. I figure that I can always come back to the U.S. I'm still (kind of) young with no baggage so I should go for it.
     
  2. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I did it for a good part of my life, I would highly recomend it to anybody. the trick is, though, to go to the right places. western europe right now would probably be a big mistake, as would probably be japan. middle east, sub saharan africa, india, maybe parts of eastern europe, maybe a place like sri lanka that just ended a war now, maybe vietnam. you are looking for places that are growing and developing, and might need skills that they don't have locally right now.

    I was in africa a while back, then eastern europe when the wall came down, then the middle east during the early years of the peace process, then india when the economic development started - being in the right place at the right time is really key.
     
  3. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    What did you do before your MBA? What kind of work would you be looking for?
     
  4. wj4

    wj4 Senior member

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    The MBA will be my 2nd master's degree. The field I work in now is unfortunately only available in the U.S., U.K., and perhaps Japan. Developing countries have no regulations or if they have any, they aren't being properly enforced for environmental and occupational health concerns. In the U.S., there are agencies such as EPA and OSHA to regulate things.

    I find a lot of my MBA courses to be extremely interesting, from finance to marketing. I wouldn't mind doing any of those things. I'll be in my late 20s when I finish the program and wouldn't mind trying out a new ambiance for a year or two.
     
  5. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    Don't really know what to tell you then.

    Basically every country in the world has the same policy when it comes to accepting expatriates - you have to be able to demonstrate that you have a skill that the country (1) needs and (2) does not have domestically available. The more developed the country, the fewer those vacancies are.

    This is basically what Zach was alluding to in his post.

    Seemingly your skill/experience is something that is not domestically available outside of a couple of countries, which is good for you, but unfortunately, apparently not regarded as needed anywhere else. This narrows your options. You haven't stated what that skill or experience is, but maybe if it is an area that some other nations are looking to develop, then there may be a possibility, but without knowing more, not much that I can offer.

    MBAs with no clear focus ("I like finance....and marketing") - kind of a dime a dozen I'm sorry to say. If you were a little more concrete about that "I want to work in the marketing of financial services" - then it may be a little easier to point you in a certain direction or at certain markets, but while it's all a bit vague, again, not much I can offer.

    If there is a way to combine whatever it was that you were doing before with what you have learned in your MBA, then you may well be golden. If you were previously working in...I dunno...nuclear energy...and now you are looking at 'marketing of financial services', maybe you could look toward sales and marketing firms that leases heavy equipment to power plants. Something like that, you could go just about anywhere....

    If you are just asking for broad and experiential advice ("is being an expat good?") then I would go with "yes". I've spent the past decade of my life in Asia (I am Australian) and it has been an amazing experience personally and professionally, and I wouldn't trade those years for anything.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  6. wj4

    wj4 Senior member

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    I appreciate your input. Something to think about on rainy days :) I know MBAs are pretty common nowadays, and my school is just an ordinary one.

    From your signature, I see you're located in Southeast Asia? There's been times where I have thought about moving back home. I moved here with my parent when I was in the 4th grade. But, as with most developing countries...it is extremely hard to earn a decent living back home.
     
  7. Nereis

    Nereis Senior member

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    What most of my friends do if they want to go traveling a lot is open up a consulting practice on the side if they aren't already working at a multinational that can post them on secondments.
     
  8. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    I did just under two years in Singapore, now just over eight in Vietnam. Where are you from?
     
  9. curzon

    curzon Senior member

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    One has a few ways of going about this.

    1) Be hired in your homeland and then sent overseas on an expat assignment. Obviously you maintain or even better your salary. You could enjoy significant tax advantages. Housing is also included, and if sent to a developing country you're likely able to afford a household staff of maid, a driver, and perhaps a gardner or house boy. You'll be provided a car too. Education for the kids at the international school and club membership(s) could be part of your package. Likelihood of a new employee getting this: very low. Placing someone overseas is very expensive and fraught w/ risk, so an employer will send a trusted employee. A recent employee will need to have some special skills, in particular language and connections. Increasingly staff is being localized to cut costs.

    2) Be hired in your homeland by an overseas employer and relocate. I know many lawyers who have this gig. Countries that forbid/restrict foreign-owned law firms and other high-skill professions of the kind (accountancy, financial services, insurance, HR) still want foreign direct investmest in other areas, and they need foreign workers to assist these investors. The locals are the directors; the foreigners are a well-paid drones. As countries liberalize these foreigners are in good positions to jump to the incoming foreign-owned firms.

    3) Hospitality (hotels and resorts) are good for both chefs and managers (food & beverage and GM). Multilingual Europeans, particularly Germans, Swiss and Austrians who have a lot of related experience in their homelands and a hospitality-related degree. Increasingly these skills are being localized.

    4) NGO. Pay is all over the place. UN and its agencies (UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF) workers are paid very well. Christian NGO/missionaries are paid very little, if at all. Assignments are all over the world, not just in the war-torn and disease-ridden hell holes. Finding gigs is tough, especially if you're a white male monolingual who isn't an MD. Connections are vey important. My friends who found their first jobs did so locally by going on their own to post-Cold War eastern Europe and post-KR Cambodia and hunting for work. Once they were in the NGO network they made connections that opened more doors. Your comments allude to knowledge/expertise in environmental and/or workplace issues, so you could find work as a workplace-compliance busybody monitoring Foxconn factories.

    5) Engineers and architects find good work in the developing world for both short- and long-term infrastructure & construction projects. Know how to dredge a port to accommodate Malaccamax vessels? Blast tunnels in mountains? Build an oil refinery? Could you manage the business end of projects of this type? Increadingly the Chinese are grabbing these projects.

    6) Military. You don't have to wear a uniform. If you're an American you could find work overseas as a contractor. Often need a security clearance. The Yanks aren't the only ones who have overseas bases.

    7) Teach. Low pay and poor prospects, but gives you a work visa and the opportunity to network and search for opportunities. Whilst working for a uni a mate of mine volunteered with AMCHAM, impressed the members, and found the job he wanted.

    8) Diplomat. If you can pass the exam(s), interviews, and the security clearance investigation the world is your oyster. Having two masters certainly furthers your cause. Econ, commerce, IP compliance, etc. are great areas. Processing visas isn't so thrilling.

    For maximizing income the ME is great because the Gulf states don't have income tax. Can be red-tape hell holes in many other areas. Quality of life... not so great in KSA to decent in Dubai and Qatar. Asia is much better, but I've had friends who over indulged in Thailand and the Philippines and crashed and burned.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  10. why

    why Senior member

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    The question is way too broad. You don't even know what you want to do. How could you receive an informative response?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  11. wj4

    wj4 Senior member

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    Singapore is definitely a booming country. I was born in Thailand. Most of my family members are still there. I've done my own research in regards to cost of living and how to start a business from well off friends of the family somewhat.
     
  12. wj4

    wj4 Senior member

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    I asked about YOUR experience. I know there are some well traveled professionals on this board so that is why I posed the question.
     
  13. Kiwi Man

    Kiwi Man Senior member

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    I'm THAI too! Even though I don't have a lot to offer, it is just great to know that there is another Thai fellow in this community!

    How fluent in Thai are you? What said was right about the earning. You may not be able to make as much as money here in Thailand or most of developing countries compared to what you can make in the US, but please be reminded that you will be able to save A WHOLE LOT MORE! Admittedly, the cost of living in Thailand has steadily increased, but it is still relatively affordable. Are you a Thai citizen? I was told that once you turn 18 year old, you have to choose one nationality over another.

    I, myself, graduated with MBA degree from Purdue and bachelor degree from University of North Carolina and I'm still struggle to find a decent job which I'm qualified. How much of the work experience do you have? Specifically, for job that you want to work, have you ever worked somewhere that is related to what you want to do for your career?

    If you have any question, please let me know!
     
  14. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    First Bolded - Obviously true for a lot of the continent, but Nairobi and Lagos are bustling right now. I can definitely speak to Lagos, my friend who works often in Nairobi has very good things to say. Both should be very exciting especially given the expat packages companies hand out for their foreign staff.

    Second Bolded - Agree. But you also have to be willing to take some risks and be open minded.
     
  15. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    I second development agencies. IMF, World Bank. Both require 2nd or 3rd language skills and definitely advanced degrees. Pay well and are almost always hiring abroad.

    Given your background you should look seriously at development agencies that may have projects related to the environment. they could be advising developing countries on how to build the capacity to enforce environmental regulation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  16. redpawn

    redpawn Member

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    I work abroad almost exclusively. I highly recommend it to anyone with some marketable skill set or just a drive to succeed. As globetrotter said, the key is to pick the right place or you'll be in trouble. I focus almost exclusively on emerging markets, as that's where all the opportunity is.

    Assuming you're able to network and provide some sort of useful service, you'll be able to quickly maneuver your way into high paying jobs overseas that would take years of education and climbing the corporate ladder in North America/Europe.

    If anyone wants more info on this stuff, feel free to PM me. I can give advice and even help develop a game plan.
     
  17. wj4

    wj4 Senior member

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    My Thai is pretty broken as of now. I plan on fine tuning it once time permits (when my MBA ends in December). There are several other Thai members on here as well, they may not post, but they are on here.

    I doubt I will be able to save much money. Have you looked at the cost of clothing over there, brand name stuff at least? They actually cost more there than they do in the states. A nice condo in BKK will run you no less than 3,000,000 baht. A decent car will cost 200-300% of what it costs here. (I'm also a car guy so I know how much the finer cars, ie exotic, BMW Ms, Benz AMGs, etc. run for around those parts).

    I'm a Thai citizen, I still hold the card when I travel there in case I should get stopped by the police.

    I'm always scanning the environment back in the homeland because even if I live in the states for the remaining of my life, I will own a home back there for vacation.

    I'd type more, but I'm at work so my brain is not fully powered up.



    Thanks, fellas. I will revisit the thread when time permits. I always appreciate the help of decent folks!
     
  18. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Senior member

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    Big boost to one's name and network.
    Only downside is there are many things about the US that I miss
     
  19. pickpackpockpuck

    pickpackpockpuck Senior member

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    Anyone have any good suggestions for an English-language editor and writer looking to find a job overseas? I have a good resume, including years as a writer and editor at some well-known places, but I'm basically monolingual. I can speak Portuguese and some Spanish, but not well enough that I could work full-time in those languages. Are there opportunities out there for someone whose specialty is basically the English language? I assume there must be some in emerging markets and next to none in places like Western Europe, right? Any input, especially specifics on what sorts of jobs there are, would be much appreciated.
     
  20. curzon

    curzon Senior member

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    Seeing your location I'll surmise you're an American, so getting a work visa in the EU will be tough. What do you offer that can't be provided by a Brit or Irishman who can easily work in the EU? An employer would have to make a very compelling case that American English is a must. Keep in mind there are plenty of Americans who are married to locals, as well as the American spouses of expats, both of whom are keen to find work too.

    I have a good friend who worked as a stringer in Asia, he struggled and suffered for a few years to build experience and connections, and was eventually hired to edit for an investment house. It was an okay paying gig. He had an aptitude for finance, was articulate enough, and was promoted. Eventually he landed a job in Hong Kong w/ a prestigious house on the full expat package.

    If I was you I'd look to Brazil and rest of South America. It's unlikely that some firm will hire you from the states and move you. You'll have to assume that cost and risk and bet on yourself.
     

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