Expat Advice: Working in
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?
Having a portable career that you can do from anywhere eliminates the stress of trying to find a new job every time you move to a new city.
For people who are looking for jobs in Dusseldorf, it is good to get involved with the German-American business club or American Women's Club to start networking. It is not always easy if you do not have a work permit or language skills. That is why I recommend having multiple streams of income to support your international lifestyle.
What type of work do you do and how did you find your job?
I started my own portable business called "Global Citizen Coaching" where I coach expats worldwide on life and business issues. I am also a writer and published author, which also makes it possible for me to work from any country.
Since I coach my worldwide clients by phone/skype/email, technology has made it possible for me to create a job that fits into my global lifestyle.
Having lived abroad for 17 years, I decided early on that I would need to have a portable career if we would be changing countries every few years. Setting up my own business in Germany was relatively easy.
How did you obtain your work permit? What advice would you have for others about work permits?
I don't actually need a work permit to do this type of work in Germany (or any other country). However, I do have a work permit because my husband is German.
I would suggest that expats, especially expat women and mothers who want to have an income stream(s), look into various opportunities for portable careers that don't require work permits.
Especially for women living abroad, it is important to be able to pursue passions and interests that bring fulfillment and offer earning potential but are not limited by work permit laws or language barriers.
Before I was married, I obtained my work permit through the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft which arranges work exchange programs and organizes homestays/internships/assists in finding jobs. I recommend this option for students, college grads and young professionals.
Have you taken language and cross-cultural training courses to prepare for your assignment? If so, how have they helped you on the job?
To live in Germany and get along well, I have learned the language, however it took a long time and I faced many cultural and linguistic barriers along the way. However, I believe that these experiences are part of the expat experience and part of the journey of living as a global citizen.
I have also read many cross-cultural books to understand the German mentality. They have indeed helped me to at least understand people around me better and their approach towards certain things.
I do not use German much in my work because my ideal clients all speak English. However, I do believe whatever country you live in, it is important to learn the language as best as you can. It opens doors to more opportunities and is part of the fun of living abroad.
If you were transferred abroad by your employer, were you guaranteed a job upon repatriation? What type of mentoring programs does your employer offer?
The nice thing about working abroad for yourself is that you have control over your company.
However, for employees who were sent abroad, I do not know of many who were 100% guaranteed of a job upon repatriation.
Many good companies offer mentoring programs, but you do need to research it.
What advice would you offer others about finding jobs and working abroad?
I have a lot of advice, but it depends on a person's goal of working abroad. If someone simply wants to work abroad for the adventure of it, there are many work exchange programs that can make this process easier.
If you want to pursue an international career in your field, I suggest you get the best education possible and already network and intern with international companies while you are in school. Have only an international focus, ie. consider global companies whose values are in line with yours and apply for jobs through job boards and contacts.
If you are a spouse of someone with an international job, then I would suggest that you consider a portable career so that both of you can have satisfying career paths and a global life.
I have more advice in my book called "The Global Citizen: A Guide to Creating an International Life and Career" available on Amazon. The book is being updated, but the resources to work, study, volunteer, travel and live abroad are still among the best available.
More resources are listed on my website at: www.globalcitizencoaching.com.
I love hearing from fellow global citizens who want to live life to the fullest wherever their journeys take them!
Founder of Global Citizen Coaching
More Expat Advice about Working in Germany