Re: first job/international opportunities?

Subject: Re: first job/international opportunities?
From: Richard Guziewicz <rkg -at- WORLDNET -dot- FR>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 16:57:48 +0200

My experience is primarily in Germany and France, and I would like to
comment further on George Mena's post:
> -----Message d'origine-----
> De: George Mena [SMTP:George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM]
> Date: vendredi 25 septembre 1998 06:45
> Objet: Re: first job/international opportunities?
> 1) Your Mastery of the Country's Language: Your second-language
> skills
> need to be outstanding.

This is not ALWAYS the case, as there are many large international
firms in Europe where one of the standard working languages is English.
Job ads appearing in this very list sometimes state that no knowledge
of the local language is necessary. Nevertheless, your "quality of
life" both within and outside the workplace will most likely diminish
if you do not have reasonable fluency in at least one of your host
country's native languages.

For example, I just completed an on-line documentation project during
which I worked with a team of three tech writers, all from different
countries. One of the three, whose native language was German, only
spoke English moderately well, and had just a minimum commmand of
French. While all of us could converse with him casually in German,
this wasn't sufficient as our working language was French and our
drafting language was English: only some of our source material was
written in German. Although we managed to work well at the outset, when
things got tight (deadlines, last-minute design changes, production
problems, and so on), this person found himself "on the sidelines",
because, to put it bruntly, talking to him took too much time. He was
uncomfortable, we were uncomfortable, and he became an "invisible man"
to management. He eventually opted out of the project.

> Not only do you need to know enough of the
> local language just to satisfy citizenship requirements and make your
> way peacefully in-country (ANY country), but you also need to know
> the
> local language equivalent of technical terms you know in your own
> language.

This is generally true, but can also be acquired on the spot,
sometimes, if you are quick learner. It really depends on the nature of
the work.

> Further, if you're being hired on by an outfit that knows
> you've never been deeply immersed in their technology before (but
> they're taking a chance on you anyway), your learning curve is going
> to
> be extremely steep, as in a 90? vertical climb.

This is true. Add culture shock to that. See also below.
> 2) The Wait: Applying for work overseas means months of waiting.
> Between the international red tape and the background check into your
> personal life, the normal selection process and the overseas
> telephone
> interviewing process, you're looking at a minimum of eight months;
> longer if the country you're interested in has some severe
> immigration
> policies in place.

This is a major hassle in many countries. The paperwork takes time, and
can cost your employer more money than you are worth, in the form of
special taxation, immigration fees, and so forth.

Listmember Peter Niebergall of Germany is
> currently
> waiting for his H1-B visa from the USA so that he can come over here.
> Regrettably, I deleted his excellent post from my mailbox, or you'd
> be
> reading his words now instead of mine.

Sideline: I just heard on the news that the U.S. was going to make
150,000 visas available to computer and IS technicians from other
countries. According to the report, manufacturers estimate that they
need to hire about 300,000 people from overseas because they can't find
qualified candidates within the U.S. Perhaps this is good news for
Peter Niebergall! I can see a lot of young French graduates packing
their suitcases already.

> 3) The Culture Shock: Sooner or later, you'll have to deal with
> this
> on top of your relocation process and the strains of getting up to
> speed
> on your responsibilities and duties of your new job. Meeting your
> deadlines are going to be the least of your problems. If you haven't
> traveled to other countries yet as a tourist, I recommend you do some
> traveling first before you decide that working overseas is actually
> something you want to do.

Excellent suggestion.

SNIP (lots of good suggestions)

Also, keep in mind that relocating BACK to the U.S. may be a bit of a
problem, especially if you stay any length of time overseas. Not every
potential employer in the U.S. will be willing to pay for your
relocation costs, especially if you come back with spouse and family!

> 5) A Final Point To Remember: When a citizen of one country travels
> to
> another, he is an ambassador of his country whether he realizes it or
> not. America has a lot of friends in the 160+ nations of the world.
> It
> also has a lot of enemies, many of its own making through inept


Of course, this depends on the host country. But even in our relatively
sedate Europe, an international furor over some incident can spark a
bit of anti-Americanism (although currently, we Americans provoke more
humor than hatred at aperitif time).

> It's easy to be an Ugly American overseas. It's also disgraceful.
> Always represent your country well by your personal conduct and your
> kindness, no matter what country you come from. It's easier to make
> enemies than it is to keep friends. We have more than enough racist
> xenophobes in the world as it is, and we can all live better without
> them.

Very well said. I would recommend not trying TOO hard to be kind and
friendly. Also, you may find opportunities for work overseas by joining
a multinational firm in the U.S., making it clear to them that you
would like an overseas post, should one become available.

Good luck.

Richard Guziewicz
Corporate Communications Consultant
Quality Consulting & Technical Writing
Member of ITG Consulting, Paris

Villa Cabaneres - Montplaisir
F-82370 Corbarieu, France
Tel. & Fax/modem: +33 (05) 63 67 82 40
Email: rgconsul -at- worldnet -dot- fr
ICQ# 13102060

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