Unpopular Opinion: Living Abroad Hinders Careers

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So here’s something that has been going through my mind for the past year – I probably shouldn’t have gone abroad if I wanted to have a career.

Here’s what I did:

I graduated university full of dreams and ambition, went to Japan for a few years, got bored of that, then went to Germany for a while and had an amazing job but felt very out of place there, so came home. I came home to find the job market in the UK to be terrible, with employers asking for people to have so much experience and so many skills but offering such little salaries in return.

Here’s what I almost wish I had done:

Graduated uni and then did a whole bunch of low-paid internships to get experience and skills. Work my way up and then have a great job.

I had an amazing time living abroad. I wouldn’t swap it at all. My Japanese became really great, I made friends with people from all over the world and I was able to work for one of the biggest and most loved Japanese companies.

While I did that, I grew as a person – got to understand life from other people’s points of view, dealt with difficult situations in languages that are not my mother-tongue, built lives in completely different cultures to my own.

But you know what? Honestly, employers in the UK do not give a flying monkey about any of that. I had always assumed that those kinds of things would make me stand out – that they would be assets on my CV. They are not.

It may sound like I am bitter – actually, I just started a job which I think I should have looked into from the start. It’s doing PA work like I am used to, but with account management on the side. It’s maternity cover, so it’s lasting just 9 months, but it’s the short-term training that I have needed.

The next 9 months are going to be tough for me – learning first hand how to do all these new things for me to progress, along with other difficulties in the position. But I have to keep my head down, eyes open and learn all I can during this time.

Life abroad is wonderful. And some people find it really great and useful in their careers. These people include: people who get to work in the language of that country, people who are given a really great career opportunity from the start, and people who move to that country with their spouse and can get on with learning new skills without being worried about having to work. What abroad life is not good for is people who plan to come home and find a good job back here.

As these are thoughts that have been rattling round my head for the past few weeks, I’d really love to hear from other people who have – or are – living abroad.

 

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