Five tips for moving overseas for work
With almost 20% of our Alumni base living and working overseas we ask them for their top tips for making the move...
1. Test it out, and don't be afraid to fail
“Australia is the greatest safety net a young, educated person can have these days. Go abroad for a few months, test it out. If all else fails, you can be sure that Australia will take you back with open arms,” Jason Lu says. “Whenever I’m hesitant about making a decision to go abroad, I look at my father who came to this country 30 or so years ago with no internet, no Google, no nothing; not knowing where he would stay, if he could find work and what the people were like: If he could do it, then I sure as hell can.”
The greatest barrier to moving overseas for many people is the fear of failure, or feeling like the move is a life sentence. There is nothing wrong with moving overseas for three, six, or 12 months and then returning home, and it’s completely normal to feel anxious or nervous about making such a big decision.
2. Do your research
“When travelling for leisure, it’s great fun just showing up with no idea where to go, finding a random hostel and winging it. When you’re moving somewhere to live and be a professional, you want to be comfortable so do some research on how, where, who, and so on,” physiotherapy graduate Luke Wilson says.
Researching various neighbourhoods, public transportation, climate and how to navigate essential services such as healthcare, bank accounts, phone services and where to get basic household items once you’re there will make life much easier once you’re on the ground and having to deal with lots of things at once. “Use social media,” Luke adds. “There is so much information available; find it, try it on yourself, and evaluate it”.
3. Sort out visas and money
“Visas are definitely a big deterrent for employers but there’s a bunch of advice out there on how to overcome this, and a lot of Aussies who are willing to help you out because they have been in the same boat. Australians are very fortunate as visas require minimal application costs or effort for the employer unlike a lot of other countries,” fashion graduate Kate Tolo says.
Facebook Design Director Robyn Morris agrees, and highlights the value a degree can have when applying for a professional visa. “You don’t need a qualification to do my job, but it certainly helps for visa purposes.” Kate adds: “Money can also be a major obstacle when cost of living is high and income is low.” Having a financial safety net and looking for ways to supplement your income, such as freelance or casual work, is worth considering.
4. Build your networks, at home and overseas
“It’s hard to stay face-to-face with people from the other side of the planet, so teach your mother how to use Skype!” Scott Thomson says. “You will get homesick, you will get lonely, so you have to establish new social groups quickly. Use your network to find opportunities.” When relocating overseas, local contacts can give you invaluable advice and can quickly introduce you to many aspects of local life.
Also, expats already living abroad can empathise with your situation. Look to make new friends in social spaces where expats mingle such as bars, cafes and online forums. Having a strong network back home is equally important because you’ll need to rely on friends and family in Australia to reassure you and cheer for you when you inevitably hit an obstacle. “Always have a Plan B, don’t get stressed out when things go wrong,” Scott says.
5. Be greedy for experience
“I’m constantly looking for ways in which I can develop more experience (volunteer or paid) in the areas I want to work in, because I know that to whom much is given, much is required,” Suzie King says. “Experience is an opportunity to learn – to take risks, make mistakes, and find out what your superpowers are.
Plus, you’ll probably meet the person who has the keys to unlock the next stage of your career.” Milk your international experience for everything it’s worth to get the most out of your time abroad. You might not have another opportunity to work with certain people or on similar projects, so keep your eyes open to every potential piece of experience that comes your way.