8 Tips for Successfully Living and Working Abroad
This is a guest post from Eli Gratz, a tireless innovator currently working in Hyderabad, India on a 6 month project.
Even in a tough economy, the opportunity to live and work abroad as part of a Multi-National Corporation (MNC) is still out there if you choose to pursue it. Projects and roles vary by company and team, but often they involve limited term stays at other branch offices to train, roll-out, or work with a local team on a larger, global project.
The benefits of the opportunity go beyond the value added to the company: your personal marketability and intangible understanding of the culture you participated in are assets you can bring back with your other souvenirs. Here are 8 tips to make the opportunity a successful one.
1) Seek out the opportunity
With travel restrictions, positioning yourself to work abroad can take time and careful planning. Be aware of projects that require international travel, and teams that are diverse globally. By working on global projects, the odds of travel increase.
2) Do your homework
Make sure you choose a project/country/culture that will help you develop in a new way. While certain “cool” locations may seem attractive, ones that are less glamorous may give you a more marketable/relevant experience. Choose one where you can survive, but will learn.
3) Get Mobile
Mobile phone technology is a must around the world. Buy a local sim card and mobile phone. Impress people that you have a local number and memorize it. You can get in contact with people quickly, and don’t be afraid to ask for numbers/visiting (business) cards.
4) Take smart risks
Whether you are a thrill seeker or outwardly calm, you need to put yourself out there when traveling. Meeting new people is tough anywhere, let alone in a new country, but the larger your network, the more enjoyable the business and social experience will be.
5) Tap the Expat community
Odds are there are other travelers and expats in the city you stay. You have a lot in common with them as an outsider even with varied backgrounds. They will be up for “touristy” and “cultural” excursions, and serve as a small community to tap for advice on the city.
6) Eyes open, mouth shut
This will be one of the best chances to change your perspective. Listen as much as you can. Learn as much as you can and ask lots of questions. This simple tip will help you not miss out on a great chance to hear new ideas and inform your opinions.
7) There is life outside your office
Work has to end sometime. Often the hours are long on international assignments, but try the local things. Engage a few friends from the office and try the foods, the entertainment and see the sights. Your understanding of the people and place can add a lot of value and can translate to working smarter when you go back home.
8 ) Give as much as you take
While you want to absorb as much local flavor as possible, many people will be curious about you and your home culture. Open up and be candid with those you meet. Let them know about you. You can learn more by bringing topics to the table.
Travel safe, make friends and enjoy your new home. It is an experience you will never forget and one that will introduce you to a world of people you would never have met, or befriend, otherwise.