This is indeed a profound question. One could rightly argue that simply traveling does not equate to “building a career.” There are certainly many interesting positions available locally. However, one could also argue that one or two trips abroad to “build a career” are worth it. The debate (about pollution and expatriate careers) resurfaces regularly, questioning the very concept of the value of work, the role of work in life and the image of the expatriate.
The image of the cool expatriate
Indeed, the expatriate is cool. We may not know the personality of every expat, but expats are thought to be cool. The idea continues to persist in the collective unconscious. Expats are cool because they come from somewhere else. Immigrants also come from elsewhere, but they lack the fortune of the expatriate. Expats are cool because they inevitably have exciting jobs. All jobs that offer substantial compensation are assumed to be fascinating. This is an intentional exaggeration to highlight the role of money in attracting expats. Still too often, they are imagined enjoying a three- or four-digit salary, occupying high positions, living between two airplanes and three hotel rooms. This outdated image of serial expats continues to shape a particular perception of expats.
A life story
The term “career” can represent two elements. First of all, there is the professional career, which accompanies us throughout life. This is the case of someone who, for example, has embraced a career as a chemist. They studied to be chemists and work in their favorite professional field. There is also the career in terms of professional experiences, which covers all the experiences listed on the resume. One may have navigated between various professional sectors, taken breaks, etc. So, should one move abroad to secure a successful career or hope to “build a career” before moving?
These questions rest on controversial assumptions. As mentioned above, the misconception of cool expats creates interference between imagination and reality. Many people move abroad to find a better life, regardless of their income. Furthermore, the definition of a career has evolved in recent decades. Nowadays, a career has many “definitions.” “Building a career” or having a “successful career” does not necessarily mean making a lot of money and holding a position of responsibility. Expats may feel like they have “built a career” when they accumulate several professional experiences. Others may feel more fulfilled by having flexible schedules to enjoy their life and family, go for walks, play sports, or explore their new country.
We are, therefore, far from the rigid definition of a career and immigration. One can applaud a career that another considers failed. One may emphasize the human aspect and all the connections made during the expatriation, while another will focus on the number of successful assignments.
The concept of a successful career and a fulfilling life
As mentioned, stereotypes persist. These stereotypes imply that a professional career would prosper more with one or more experiences abroad. This overlooks the tragic marginalization of expatriates returning home. Many companies are still struggling to deal with employees leaving, returning or going elsewhere. Although very rich, his career is not always recognized for its real value. They try to pigeonhole them into categories even though they don’t meet any criteria and don’t want to.
What if it were about balance?
Don’t overvalue an expat career, don’t belittle someone who doesn’t travel, but put each situation in its proper context. While expatriation can indeed boost a career (depending on what one considers a “career”), it is neither the condition nor the consequence of a successful career. If expatriation attracts you, it is not necessary to wait to climb a thousand steps before daring to travel. Instead, consider your language proficiency, the sectors that are hiring in the foreign country, the conditions for obtaining a visa, the need for additional training, etc.
The trauma of confinements forced us to reflect on true essences. What is success? What is life? What really matters? The younger generations no longer want to work to death like their elders. Your ultimate goal is no longer to occupy a position of responsibility. Although salary is still important, it is no longer the driving force for accepting impossible working conditions. Young people like to earn less money and have more time for others and themselves. For them, that is the true fulfillment of life. The career will be successful if the personal life is also successful.
Should you move abroad to build a career?
However, we must recognize some objective data. Some educated women, for example, claim to have had more opportunities by moving abroad. They have become executives, CEOs, started their own businesses, etc. Doors closed in their home country were open in another. They also talk about the greater freedom they have experienced in their host country.
Another objective data point is salaries. The same position will be compensated in different ways in different countries. The appreciation of the profession is also a factor. When the country does not adequately support a professional sector, sometimes the grass seems greener in a neighboring country.
Should we conclude that moving abroad is essential for a successful career?
Of courseno. It would be risky to genthe deepereralize based on isolated cases. Ultimately, these questions emphasize that nothing is mandatory. They also question the deeper meaning of expatriation. Why do people go to work abroad?
Should you move abroad to be happy?
You may have already heard this injunction: “You must travel. Those who do not travel are narrow-minded, passive and lack ambition. To travel is to live.” The defenders of these clichés are sure that traveling conditions and structures the human being. The formula could be transferred to work; It would be essential to see what is done elsewhere to do your job better.
However, the same travel enthusiasts forget to mention that they can spend more time taking selfies in front of all the tourist places in the world than taking an interest in the cultures of the countries they visit. The same phenomenon sometimes occurs with expatriation, especially in certain sectors such as technology. Traveling is considered essential to work better. Elements that go beyond their scope are projected in expatriation. Without questioning the overall benefits of travel, it is not guaranteed that travel will inevitably lead to an executive position. In fact, that may not be what you’re looking for.
You can also travel to the end of the street or through encounters with others. Hobbies, cooking, sports and cinema are all doors to other worlds where happiness can also be found. A happiness that comes even when everything would label our expatriation as “failed”, for exaproblems, callmple, if the work contract abroad failed, was interrupted or was not renewed. The stay abroad was a long series of more or less problematic adventures. Do these problems call into question the success of a career abroad? No. This distinction is so important for a comprehensive view of professional experience, whether abroad or not. It is up to each individual to evaluate the success of their career. Although it is certainly very important, the value of work must be returned to its proper place. Life encompasses work, not the other way around. In short, we do not live (only) to work; Work does not determine life.