Planning For a New Job Abroad
A close friend is soon taking a new role with her company in Hong Kong. While she’s been there for short trips before, this time it’ll be a long-term assignment.
This weekend I had a chance to hear about this exciting experience and in the process learned how she’s preparing to make the most of this rare opportunity. Looking back at my past experiences working abroad I noticed a number of things she’s doing that I think will ensure she has a fantastic time.
7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Time Overseas
1. Commit to living abroad; Don’t fly home every weekend
My friend currently has no return flights booked back to the States. Instead she plans to travel throughout Southeast Asia and live it up in Hong Kong.
Doing so will help her make new friends faster, see/do more and psychologically commit to her new home.
2. Living location matters a lot
What’s the point in living abroad if you spend 2 hours a day commuting to the city center and don’t live near anyone or anything?
Be willing to pay a premium to close to the places and people you’ll want to be near.
3. Living quarters, however, don’t matter
On the flip-side, don’t stress about the place itself. You shouldn’t plan to be there too much.
Spend your days in the office, your nights out trying new restaurants and meeting new people, and weekends out and about or taking day trips to nearby cities and countries.
4. Take advantage of ex-pat networking opportunities
You’re not the first person from your homeland to visit your new temporary home.
Find forums and sites to help you connect to ex-pats already abroad who are willing to teach you about your new home.
5. Prepare for the cultural differences
My friend explained an interesting cultural difference about her Hong Kong team members. It takes repeated, proven examples for them to adopt new technologies and processes in place of existing, manual ways of doing things. They aren’t as inclined to trust even classic tools like Excel to make their job easier.
Be open to these differences and be careful imprinting “your way” of doing things.
6. Set career goals for your time abroad
It’s important to set clear bounds on your project abroad. Work with your company to have definitive project objectives and/or timelines.
If you don’t you’ll risk getting an uncertain timeline, or a project unsuited to your success. Use this time to get the most out of your career as well as your new home.
7. Be prepared for challenges integrating back into your home office
When you come back home, it’s possible your position might not be there. While you were away your company likely had to fill your role and perhaps the new employee has done a great job in your place.
Be prepared to find a new role – or even a new company – and use your experiences abroad as a competitive advantage in marketing yourself.
8. Bonus Tip: Say “Yes”
You’ll have many new opportunities. When in doubt: go for it, try something different, do what you normally wouldn’t, get outside your comfort zone…you get the idea.
In short, be prepared to say, “Yes!”
Hong Kong is a fascinating place and I hope to visit my friend while she’s there. And based on her outlook so far I think she’ll be well situated to be a great host when I do make the trip.