This week we have a guest post, courtesy of Amy Knapp at InsideTrak. Here she tells her story about finding a job in your profession in your new country.
When people talk of “The land of opportunity”, they’re usually referring to a country in which they’ve travelled, immigrated or done business. People rarely refer to their own country in this way – and there’s a reason for that.
You arrive in a new country blissfully unaware of the usual limitations of your profession. You don’t know the history so you don’t have the intimidation factor. And when you don’t have the intimidation factor, it becomes easy to apply for that top position at that top company, to ring the most influential person in the industry and ask her for some career advice, to switch professions on a dime and act like you’ve been doing it all your life.
It takes guts to relocate to a new country. The major bonus though, is that you leave a lot of your fears behind and leave yourself free to take chances you wouldn’t normally take in your own country. There’s no one around to judge you if you fail, no one around to say, “No kidding! You’re applying for a job there? My cousin’s been trying to get a job there for years!”
I arrived in Australia with an impressive resume that unfortunately had zero correlation with what I actually wanted to do, which was write. In Canada I’d managed a small business, been director of an NGO, and even put in three years at law school. When an opportunity came up to do some writing part-time, I jumped on it. I wrote an outrageous letter, laid the whole situation on the table and voila! I became a writer.
Some key things worked in my favour. Being a foreigner, I had some skills none of the other applicants had: I spoke French, had worked in three different countries and had a certain liveliness that must have been contagious.
Equally important were the things I didn’t know about the job, namely that there were over a hundred other applicants, most of whom had PR backgrounds and at least two internships under their belt. That should’ve been obvious. In Canada, I’d have known that I wasn’t qualified and probably not bothered at all. But since I was away from home and living life large in a foreign country, I took a shot.
The real reason they gave me the job was because they liked my letter. My employer at the time was an open-minded guy looking for a great writer. Turned out that none of the other stuff really mattered as much as I’d have thought it did (if I’d thought it through – which I didn’t).
That first writing job spiralled into another job, which spiralled into another and another and eventually became a cosy career as a freelance writer. Back in Canada, I demanded the same fees I did in Australia, even though Canadian salaries are significantly lower and technically I should have corrected for that. But you know what? Nobody complained. Not one single person.
The moral of the story is that it can in fact be an advantage not to understand the culture of your profession in a foreign country. It helps you escape your fears. It motivates you to take chances. There’s no fear of judgement or rejection. You don’t know these people. Why not take a shot?
Amy Knapp is a freelance blogger for InsideTrak, where you can find free job postings from Australian employers.