How to get your first job abroad

How to get your first job abroad?

The idea of working abroad is very attractive to a lot of people. However, getting your first job outside of your home country can be a bit overwhelming. You start to wonder how attractive your CV is to foreign companies. More than anything, you keep asking yourself this one question: how am I ever going to find a position in another country?

To get some on-the-ground information, we’ve interviewed Anu Apurvaa Sindol — Business Analyst at The Volta Movement and ESCP alumna — about her experience getting her first job outside of her home country.

Originally from India, Anu moved to Paris to study a Master in Management (MiM) at ESCP. She then went to ESCP’s Berlin campus and, for her last year of studies, she chose to take a dual degree at ESCP’s partner the University of South Carolina. 

Less than a month after graduating, she landed her first position, as a business analyst in a startup in Texas.

Success factors to getting your first position internationally

Set the scene to create international opportunities

More than anything, what helped Anu to get her first job overseas was her ability to leverage her personal network.

While she was studying in Paris, she connected with Ardavan Beigui, an ESCP alumnus who ended up becoming her mentor. Founder of start-up Tinyclues located in New York and Paris, Ardavan was well-connected to the American startup ecosystem. When Anu went abroad for her dual degree, he connected her with many startup founders in the United States. While it didn’t lead her to find her first job abroad, it was a great way to extend her professional network.

On top of that, Anu reached out to the school’s career services. They put her in contact with a startup in Texas, founded by an USC alumnus. This fast-tracked Anu’s job application process and she landed a position in the company straight after graduating.

Getting real-life experience

Before searching for your first job abroad, you will need some sort of professional experience. While this is true for most postions, it’s even more important when looking outside of your home country.

Anu always made the most of her school’s projects. As part of one of the Masters in International Business courses at USC, she got assigned a 3-month consulting mission at the Seabin Project. Her work had real-world impact and that’s something that she could talk about during her interviews.

University projects are just one way of getting real-life experience. You can apply for an internship, volunteer at your favourite organisation, or even launch an entrepreneurial project. All of these will put you in a better position to land your first job abroad.

Being patient and resilient

If you have some real-life experience and a network of people that you can reach out to, it’s a matter of time before you sign your first work contract. However, this period can feel like an eternity.

Some companies have very long application processes. Just keep in mind that most companies have three or more rounds of in-depth interviews before they take their final decision. In addition, getting your work visa could actually take longer than the application process itself. Stay patient and, sooner or later, you will get land your first job.

Getting ready early is the best way to get a job abroad

While Anu was fortunate enough to get her first job straight out of Business School, she admits that she faced a lot of challenges:

  • Finding the right contacts. When Anu applied to new positions, she didn’t always know who to reach out to. Fortunately, by contacting startups she was often able to talk directly to the founders.
  • Getting a work visa. Getting a visa abroad can sometimes be more complicated than the job application itself. In the US, for instance, if a company wants to offer a work contract to a non-resident, they will need to sponsor the H1B visa of the candidate. Since few companies are willing to do that, Anu completed an Optional Practical Training and received a 3-year employment authorisation.
  • The effect of the pandemic. The current COVID-19 crisis is bringing a lot of uncertainty to the employment market. Many companies are deciding to pause their recruitment process until things get back to normal. On top of that, the borders are still closed in several countries. The good news is that, if you’re highly motivated, you will always find a way to create your own opportunities independently from the external situation.

Getting a job abroad is possible without having any prior experience or qualifications. However, getting the right education and professional experience will definitely improve your chances of getting your dream position.

Anu believes that her choice of business school has greatly impacted the start of her career. The MiM gave her a strong academic foundation and experience working in a multicultural setting. She got some professional experience early on thanks to the projects in the MIB, and eventually, she was employed by an alumnus of USC. “None of that would have been possible if I didn’t join ESCP and its partner institution USC,” said Anu.

No matter what, if you stay humble and patient, and apply to positions that you are genuinely interested in, you will surely find a job in another country.

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