Moving and Working Overseas

Having worked overseas, I get a lot of questions from students about how they can work abroad, too. I published pretty much all I know in this free ebook. But my experience is hardly comprehensive.

I recently traded emails with Tripp Jakovich, a creative working in Shanghai. I asked Tripp to share his advice on moving and working overseas. Here's what he had to say:

Back in October I decided to take my chances abroad in hopes of starting a career amongst the heavy hitters of the advertising world. So I set my sights on Shanghai, China. It wasn’t a completely random decision. Having used to live in Beijing and a working knowledge of the Mandarin language, it seemed like a reasonable venture.

Within two weeks, not only did I meet a multitude of inspiring individuals, but I also landed a job as a copywriter at an international agency.

The ad industry flourishes in cities like Shanghai. With more brands establishing themselves in the Chinese market, it only makes sense that agencies are following suit and setting up shop. After months of learning about the opportunities to be had, I compiled a few reasons why and how one might start a career overseas (in advertising or otherwise).

1. The Whys

-       Go out, see the world and challenge yourself. Find out what you are really capable of. If you can make it on your own in a foreign country, you can likely be successful anywhere.
-       Creative curriculum is prominent in Western education. In my experience, it seems artistic minds are in short supply in developing countries. Their more basic needs drive educative focuses, so creative education isn’t really necessary. For cities with growing ad scenes, there is a huge demand for people who have learned to control and communicate the creative process.
-       You will get chances to prove yourself no matter how experienced you are. I have been given responsibilities and opportunities that I never would have had in the US because of my limited amount of time in the advertising field.  

2. The Hows

-       As always, do your research. I used both WeChat as well as LinkedIn to search for people who were working at companies in which I was interested. By merely reaching out to them, I was able to get a number of different interviews. Don’t be afraid to ask.
-       Get lost and connect. Go explore the city and meet people along the way. Get lost and find your way back home by asking directions. Stop at a bar, buy someone a drink and pick his or her brain. If that person has any jobs leads or connections, your desire to learn will leave a good impression.
-       Take the plunge. Just go for it, no extensive plan needed. Don’t have a job lined up just yet? Hire a headhunter a few months before you leave.  Set up some interviews for when you arrive. Meet people and find work through new contacts.

-       Have faith that it will work out. It always does in the end, doesn’t it? You will find a way and when you do, your fight to success will make you mentally stronger and more confident in your abilities.