Tag Archives: international career

OxfordYou have moved abroad to take a fantastic new job. Great achievement! Is it time to congratulate yourself and focus on work and work alone or find a new personal development opportunity through school?

People attend executive study programs for different reasons:

  • Get an elite school on the resume to improve career prospects or simply satisfy ego
  • Meet likeminded professionals to network with
  • Personal development: never stop learning
  • Learn from professors who are not only academics but also practice your trade
  • Finally complete the unfinished education gap by getting a shorter version of that MBA you never got to do
  • Intellectual challenge
  • Go through a significant career change
  • Fill in the gap year
  • Work is paying for it. Why not?
  • Party and make friends like you are back in college for the first time (usually combined with one or more of the above)

For an expat, an executive study course in the host country can also help

  • Get better adjusted in a new country
  • Consider new career options  if you are following a significant other to the expat location and do not have a work visa or a job planned yet
  • Learn about careers and international adventures of fellow students who most likely are expats, have been expats or are considering an expat opportunity

Besides the field of study, key things to consider are

  • Cost
  • Commitment

Executive education does mean what it sounds like. It is a high quality product and hence it is expensive. It requires significant investment of money and time. Like with reaching any goal, plan and take actions that can get you there:

  • Find out if your current employer will pay for it. Even if the company covers a portion of the program, it helps!
  • Research scholarships. Yes, some schools may have subsidies for executive education programs, too.
  • Be very clear on the time commitment required. Can you fit it into your travel schedule? How much reading is involved? What kind of exams and projects are you going to be faced with? What if you can’t make a session?

Once you have been accepted, fully commit to the program. If you were not the most diligent of students back in high school or university, now is the time to do it for yourself. You will get much more out of the experience if you dedicate the time required from both personal development and academic result point of view.

By Yelena Mackay

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Successful Expats=TranspantsHave you been dreaming about an international career? Watching your friends on Facebook posting stories of relocation to cool destinations for that one, really, really amazing job? Or going back to school to a university abroad? One of your friends may have taken a break and moved to the beach to save dolphins in a beautiful destination. All of those stories are fantastic experiences. Why not make your story this year’s story? If you have had enough of waiting, wishing and hoping to do what other people do abroad, this year can be your year to take a leap!

Those looking for a more rewarding lifestyle abroad, get ready to transplant! Expat or student mentality is great for short-term goals but successful moves abroad are like transplantations. During your move and for a significant time after, you will experience something of the sort what gardeners call a “transplant shock”. Your immune defense is down, you are feeling under the weather, sensitive to the new climate, temperature, and all conditions of your new habitat, poor quality internet access including.

While financial conditions of your move are important, it’s your focus, openness to new ideas, willingness to make new friendships and connections, goals that you set and the planning to achieve them that are key to making a move in the first place and then growing your roots. You will become a successful transplant if you research and prepare well before making the move, get to know the locals instead of staying in your expat community circle, set clear goals for your stay and have an exit strategy. After all, chances are you will have to replant back to your home country. Have no fear, planning sounds much worse than it really is. Setting up new social networks, sharing your joys, doubts and funny stories with friends, family and colleagues back home will make it worth your while.

Here is to the one and only international move that really matters. Yours!

By Yelena Mackay

Follow on Twitter @MovingWtShaking

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First Move AbroadMy first move abroad reminds me of my first ever day of skiing. Both events came at a much more advanced age than for most people. Both had two things in common: low visibility and a lifeline, a support structure. The support structure I had a lot of appreciation for consisted of a local friend who mentored me through the whole experience prior to the departure and then picked me up at my first foreign airport. Another friend helped me rent my skiing equipment at a little resort in Swiss Alps, got me somewhere closer to the top of the mountain and delivered into the hands of an expert skiing instructor who, indeed, became a lifeline.

It doesn’t matter how much you read about your destination or talk to people who live there before making the move. Things are going to look and sound familiar, you will know the general direction in which you are headed but don’t expect full clarity of vision on day one.  It helps to have someone ahead of you to follow and copy the movements. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to figure out every little detail before you get to your destination. Even if you are an experienced traveller, moving your life to a new location abroad will throw in many surprises. Adjusting to your expat life is a process and it will take some research, a lot of practical experience and work on building new survival skills.

Are there any shortcuts? Sure! Since this is your move, focus on things that are important to you. Let’s simplify it down to 3 steps:

  1. Think about and/or make a list of what you need to know before you land at a minimum to be comfortable.
  2. Research your questions online and talk to people who have done a similar move.
  3. Find at least one local contact who you can turn to for help.

Setting time aside to process what your needs are is important. You can spend days browsing expat sites, reading through a lot of fun and exciting stories of other people’s adventures and still feel unprepared. Focus on what makes up your current environment and how to remap it to your foreign destination. Then do your research. Having someone locally to turn to can be really valuable not only in case of an emergency but also to help create a sense of connection and familiarity with your host country.

Invest a bit of time, think it through, research, follow someone and experience. You will be off bunny slopes and down the black runs in no time!

By Yelena Mackay

Follow on Twitter @MovingWtShaking

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Volunteer AbroadVolunteering abroad is no longer reserved for those who can dedicate 2 years to Peace Corps, recent graduates or retirees. If you haven’t been following the developments in this area, you will be surprised to find out that volunteering abroad as well as voluntourism have completely gone mainstream.  In many emerging economies, non-profits have set up an amazing variety of projects that are fueled by the energy of those who just graduated and are looking for their first work experience, adventure and opportunities to see the world before they dive into their professional careers. Whether you are a doctor, a teacher, a marine biologist or still soul searching and have no particular professional experience, somewhere in the distant corner of our planet your free time can be put to good use. Not everyone can afford to have a full gap year.  Many organizations are catering to those who just have a week or two to spare.

If you are a careerist who can’t imagine disconnecting from your paid work, climbing the ladder and pushing yourself to the next achievement, there are many great reasons for you to join the students, recent grads and retirees volunteering abroad movement. Until recently, I was one of you. Unpaid work- you must be joking! I can barely have time to have a vacation. Thankfully, my current residence is in the UK, so I did get some good amount of paid holidays each year. When I quit my job running commercial operations at a software company last year, I had 2 immediate goals: finish my book on expat and life abroad success and go volunteer in Tanzania. I am writing this on the way to my first project site in Moshi and contemplating why this feels like the best decision in my life.

Why should a careerist sign up to volunteer abroad?

1. Have a purpose for your gap month/year.

It’s hard to just quit a job and relax. The reasons you are a workaholic or hmm… careerist are rooted in your desire to be busy, involved, useful, perhaps feel important, and successful. Time flies unbelievably fast whether you are gainfully employed or taking a break. If you planned to have just a few months off or even a year, it will be over before you know it. Don’t find yourself having regrets when that long thought- after break is over and you still “haven’t done anything useful”. Donating your time and knowledge to those who truly need it is mutually rewarding.  Do something meaningful with your break!

2. Get out of your comfort zone.

If you are a careerist, chances are you have done reasonably well for yourself. Your job is challenging. You feel like you have made a lot of progress. You generally have been in control of your career and your choices. May be that’s why you have become somewhat rigid in your views and too comfortable? Imagine letting go for a period of time: having no control over exactly what your assignment is going to be, being flexible, figuring out local rules and how to do a lot with really little and mean it.

3. Learn something new and do something for the first time (again).

You have travelled a lot for your job. Nothing can really surprise you- so many relationships have been built, problems solved, numbers met, and exciting places  seen. If you weren’t an adventurous backpacker growing up, chances are, there are still a lot of new places and ways of adjusting to them that will be exciting. What about a new language? Fine, you already speak 2 or more European languages. How about Swahili? What better way to share a new culture than full immersion into the local language?

4. Make new friends.

When was the last time you made a new friend? Not a networking buddy, or useful contact but a friend? This is your chance to meet new people, both locals who you will help and other volunteers. This shared experience will certainly create new bonds.

5. Find the new YOU.

There was a reason you wanted to have a “gap”. Being away, learning new things, meeting new people, changing the familiar pace of your life, doing something meaningful will put you on track to discover that reason. Who do you want to be when you come back? Were you on the right career track? Did it give you the satisfaction you hoped for? Is it time to consider what your true passions are and follow them? New career, back to school or on to a new business venture, or may be, the career was right, and the new employer is all you need to find YOU again.

Next few months I will be spending in Moshi and Zanzibar working in education programs aimed at empowering women and children. I will be sharing my learnings on this blog.

By Yelena Mackay

Serial expat. Founder of Moving Without Shaking Ltd

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Expat MovesWhat comes to mind when you hear the word expat?

A Glamorous international life style

B Amazing travel

C Being constantly on the move

D Meeting interesting people

E All of the above

I still have all these associations, now living in the UK, my country No 4. Being an expat is truly all of the above and more. That’s why so many people dream about it, work towards it, and invest into making their first move abroad. You need to have the right mindset about your transition, particularly in order to successfully reevaluate must- haves and nice- to-haves in your life.

My first flight across the pond came with a seat at the very back of the plane, right before the lavatories. It didn’t really matter. It was taking me to the US to fulfill my dreams. The ticket was a must-have. The quality of the seat was not relevant. It was equal in price to my old car, so I thought it to be a fair exchange.

Years later while planning the move to Switzerland, I was considering whether I had to have a car during my two year assignment. In California, I drove a nice little sporty convertible and believed I forever joined the car culture. I was not going to be able to use infamous public transport every day again! Well, for those who haven’t experienced Swiss transportation system yet, prepare to be amazed when you finally try it.

Swiss trains are still my favorite way to travel. They are always on time, very comfortable and extremely frequent. Added bonus: you can write your blog or read books on coaching throughout the whole journey. City transport is very reliable and can get you to the office in much shorter time than I spent every morning driving between San Jose and Mountain View on highway 101. It did take some adjustment and initial surprise at long forgotten discomfort of having to carry groceries, laptop bags and building more precise schedules of your life to fit everything in. The benefits included rapid weight loss from much more walking every day and savings to use towards that very glamorous travel around Europe.

We form new habits and adjust to new circumstances much quicker than we imagine. If you start with a mindset that you are giving something up and it’s going to be annoying, uncomfortable, or something that you will have to “deal with”, that’s precisely what you will get. Evaluate your options in the new country. Is it wise to spend money on the same things you owned or used? What does an equivalent level of a life style actually mean? No matter how great your new work contract is, understanding your budget is important. May be by giving up a little, you will gain a lot more!

By Yelena Mackay

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