How to find your professional identity abroad

HOW TO FIND YOUR PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY ABROAD​

When I was a fresh Expat Partner, I was absorbing all the many new things around me, the different culture and all those new facets of our way of life. Everything was changing and no day was like the day before. However, I lacked some guidance on how to continue with my career abroad. Many contacts and plans did not work out as planned and I was longing for some advice or guidance. When my original intention of continuing my old career path did not work out, I needed to think differently. 

1.5 YEARS LATER, A ROLLERCOASTER FULL OF LEARNINGS, EPIPHANIES, AND TRANSFORMATION IS BEHIND ME, AND I DEVELOPED A TOOLKIT TO GET TO THIS POINT WHICH I WANT TO SHARE WITH OTHER EXPAT PARTNERS. ​

We as Expat Partners face not only the challenge to deal with cultural differences and a new daily life, but we also have to ask ourselves:

  • Am I allowed to work abroad?
  • Can I take my career with me?
  • How can I maintain my professional network back home?
  • How to make the most out of my time abroad?
  • How do I sell myself abroad?
  • How can I enter the foreign job market?
  • What will I do?

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With the goal to give some guidance that I myself missed the most when starting this adventure, I decided to write about it and dig deeper into the topic on how to find your professional identity abroad as the Expat Partner. 

I read into academic studies on expatriation to get an understanding of how this topic developed over time and where the whole industry of working abroad is heading to. I talked to so many inspirational Expat Partners worldwide and asked them about their story, learnings and guidance and top tips for finding meaningful work abroad. I also questioned what it takes to apply overseas, what mindset, what qualifications and what attitude. We need to sell ourselves differently. Still too often we find the terms “trailing spouse” or “independent partner”. Some employers might think we have chosen family over career and are not really job focused. However, the opposite is the case. We have put ourselves outside our comfort zone and have been ready to give everything up to learn something new. As the Expat Partner we need to get better in our storytelling and to accomplish that it is my belief that we have to address some very fundamental questions first: 

  • What is important to me?
  • How did my former job/career reflect that?
  • What do I value in life?
  • What is missing? It what direction do I want to explore more?
  • How do I define a successful expatriation to me?
  • How can I build on my career and not only take on a job?
  • Do my old life goals still match?

Because of this transformational part of moving abroad, I find it essential to not only put all the information together in one book but to also add valuable exercises to it that make us think and provoke some fundamental questions. I, therefore, designed it as a workbook which you can either print out to put pen to paper or work on it digitally as all fields are interactive and can be filled out. 

When we start to realize that this is our time for reflection and change instead of caution and de-prioritization we can begin to act and take our faith in our own hands. Put your explorer hat on and start prioritizing yourself!

Thanks for sharing the love and stopping by

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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