After college, Sarah started looking for jobs in upstate New York, but had to keep her mind open because of the recession. She ended up getting a job in Chicago that sent her to Europe, and then she joined ING, where her reach is global. Some obvious challenges in working abroad are language, money, and cultural norms. Other unforeseen challenges can be different ways of getting work done, different feedback processes, and different ways of relating to people. Also, when moving to another region or country, there are two types of adjustments people need to make: personal and professional. At first, everything is new, exciting, scary, but then you go through a personal transition where you get to know yourself and learn how you can deal with the new environment. In addition, you need to rebuild professional connections and support networks, and perhaps learn new technical skills. Sarah says that the experience stretches you incredibly and pushes you to grow. Some things to be aware of when working abroad are (1) if you are interested in an international career, let people know you are open to it, (2) even if you are monolingual, don’t limit yourself to English speaking countries, (3) recognize that it is a two-way investment – the move needs to benefit yourself and the company, (4) get to know the company and the culture before you go, (5) don’t sweat the small stuff – the move won’t go completely smoothly, (6) appreciate the experience and get to know the area and the language, (7) build networks in local and home countries and, (8) be open and prepared for anything and look to build yourself personally.
Prior to joining ING, Sarah worked in both Organization Development and Executive & Expatriate Compensation at Coca-Cola Enterprises in Europe. Sarah started her expatriate career with Hewitt Associates working both in their Global and European headquarters.
Before venturing overseas, Sarah earned a degree in Psychology from Cornell University, in Ithaca NY. She now resides happily with her multi-cultural family in The Hague, The Netherlands.
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