Being a Young Professional Abroad

Being a young professional abroad

Being a newbie in the professional world is far from easy. Add another country and culture into the mix and it is even harder.

By Kirsty Smith

To move abroad as a young professional, you have to be determined to succeed, have a thick skin and be prepared to spend hours completing paperwork and queuing at offices. You’ll not only be asked to prove your academic and professional abilities, but also your knowledge of the language and culture so that your future employer can be sure that you will fit in.

Once you’ve got passed the first hurdles and sorted out the legalities, you can then begin to embrace and enjoy your new lifestyle. For me this means discovering new parts of the city, trying out the local cafés, bars and restaurants and just generally mapping out your new life. In no time, you’ll have figured out where you like, where you don’t like and where to go next. It can seem daunting at first but one day, someone will ask you for advice about moving abroad and you’ll realize: you made it.

I definitely wouldn’t call myself an expert in moving abroad at this stage but I do know a thing or two about starting a new chapter of your life abroad. As I mentioned above, determination is key. When you move to a new country, you are the outsider. Whether you like or agree with that statement or not, it’s true; you are not and never will be classed as a native because you are not. You need to prove to the authorities and even potential employers that you belong in this country and are willing to adapt to their way of living.

At this point, you should absolutely not take anything to heart. Everyone faces rejection on the job market at some point in his or her career, and at this early stage in yours, you need to develop a thick skin. Starting out on the career ladder is hard for everyone but when you are trying to convince an employer that your linguistic and cultural skills are so amazing that they should hire you over a native speaker, it can seem overwhelming and like you are fighting against a brick wall. But don’t give up; it’ll happen when the time is right.

The final thing that I would consider a challenge in establishing yourself abroad is the mountain of paperwork that you will undoubtedly face. I can’t speak for every country, but in Switzerland you should be prepared to hand over information about your background, your job (which you need to have in place in order to be granted a visa in the vast majority of cases), your accommodation and your current financial situation. It can feel like you’re under interrogation at times but all of this paperwork helps the country run like clockwork.

Staying with the Swiss theme, I would say that it is one of the best places to set up as a young professional. The Swiss are very supportive of the younger generations and encourage them to follow their dreams no matter how ridiculous or unachievable they may sound. As a result, Zürich and most other big cities are bursting with start-up businesses and career events. Coming from Britain where the attitude towards start-ups and freelancers tends not to be so positive – especially towards young entrepreneurs – I find the Swiss way very refreshing and encouraging.

So to any of you reading this who are thinking about moving or who are just about to make the move – my final piece of advice to you is this: take risks. Yes, it is important to be stable and having job/life security is a lovely feeling, but no one ever moved forward in life by standing still.

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