Words of Wisdom: The Best Insights From My First 6 Interviews with Professionals Working Internationally

From an intern in Germany to an international recruiting expert to a leader at IBM, it has been a blast having the opportunity to speak with professionals from Japan to Portugal about their experiences working abroad. I have compiled some of the best quotes of advice from my interviews with these international trailblazers and put them all here in one place for you. I hope you enjoy!

Simon Schaefer, CEO of Startup Portugal, Working in Portugal

[Portugal] is very open and there is no real need to know the language. Of course you will hit barriers with cab drivers or shopping but there are lots of touch points and, really, if you are a decent human being, you should be learning at least a little bit of the local language.

[Portugal] is like any other startup ecosystem, we need all the skills. We need growth hackers and front end programmers and deep tech and UX people and sales and business developers and CEOs and everything in between. Bring it all! All the merrier! There is no way there isn’t a job for you if you know what you are doing in terms of startups and entrepreneurship.

Troy Erstling: CEO of Braingain.co Living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

If you were to incorporate yourself as a ‘consultant’ and get any company in the world to say that they want you to come to them and consult for them, then you can go there on a business visa.

Many of the companies out there, especially start-ups, just want a general hustler who can get shit done.

[Startups] are asking candidates: how do you learn? How do you study and learn on your own? Have you shown initiative? That is a lot more important than whatever “skillset” your college degree says that you have, because as a recent graduate, you probably don’t have many skills yet.

Angie Hubert: Talent Acquisition, Learning & Analytics Leader at IBM living in Singapore.

Put that you want a position abroad on your resume, make it clear that working abroad is something you are interested in. If you don’t tell people, they won’t know. Don’t wait and hope and make people read the tea leaves.

What has helped us the most is having an amazing network of friends, some who have been here 8-10 years and some who are new to Singapore. Just putting ourselves out there and meeting new people has been the best thing for us.

Marnix de Groot, International Recruiter and Startup adviser, living in the Netherlands.

I think you need to have an idea of the specific companies that you want to work for, then start following their blog or social media accounts, and make connections with people working there.

[The Netherlands] is also a very international environment, good universities, and then also for young professionals you have a lot of meet ups which allows you to grow your international network and learn new knowledge from other professionals.

Max Korpinen, Human Resource Generalist at VR Hardware startup FOVE living in Tokyo, Japan.

Being a startup, as far as recruiting goes, we are really just looking for talent. For me it is very simple: find people who are smart and fit our organizational culture.

The government in Japan has a program with the goal of increasing the number of foreigners working in Tokyo because of their aging workforce.

Matt Benfield, Analytics intern at DHL living in Frankfurt Germany

Being uncomfortable and unsettled is good, especially in your early 20s, when you need to find out what things in life you want and what things aren’t that important to you or don’t interest you.

I feel like I could really take my life in any direction now that I am working abroad. Living abroad in some ways makes you realize how small the world is because it is so accessible, but also how large it is in the way that, there are so many different directions you can take life.


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Aaron Horwath Written by:

Since graduating from the University of Portland in 2014, I have worked abroad. Currently, I live and work in Da Nang, Vietnam as the Head of Global Training at an international technology company. Through my blog, I share my experiences of working abroad to give others a glimpse into international life and help them decide if working internationally is right for them.