Re: Finding foreign jobs

Subject: Re: Finding foreign jobs
From: "E. Forrest Christian" <eforest -at- MICRO-NET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 15:37:14 CST

Like Matt, I, too, spent the last year in Belgium, but I worked for a small tech writing company in Brussels. I knew several other Americans who were working for a variety of firms doing tech writing.

Matt is partly right: having the skills is most important. Whether everyone likes it or not, the US dominance (along with India and the UK) has led to English being the language of common communication in our industry. It won't last, but that's the way it is. I was writing for a Belgian multinational, that has a big subsidiary in the US. I worked in Belgium, writing in US English and was then translated into Dutch and French (and Japanese, Spanish, Italian and German).

The technical skills are important, but understand that about 60% of all US expats can't hack it. We are just too used to having everything our way. A European firm will definitely want to keep you there, whether you are enjoying it or not. Don't downplay the problems of culture shock in working abroad. You will also need to be fluent in the mother tongue. I wasn't, with clients in Antwerpen and only speaking French and English. Very irritating and rude to them.

That said, there is a major company in Antwerpen that is expanding and trying desperately to hire real technical writers (English language). They can't find them and were willing to go through the paperwork to get the permits and visas. With my clients, this was a common situation. I even was an EU proposal writer.

A friend sent C.V.s to everyone listed in the STC book and then went over and started calling on them. He got a job within a week. Lucky, I suppose, but both he and his wife are still tech writers in Europe.

E. Forrest Christian (773) 363.95.15
Freelance Technical Writer eforest -at- micro-net -dot- com

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