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How to Land an International Assignment

May 27, 2009 @ 2:12 AM | Permalink

I get a lot of emails asking me the best way to find a job abroad. So I thought I'd discuss it here so anyone who is interested can benefit.

In my experience, the best way to get an international assignment—especially if you’re a recent college graduate—is to work for an international company in your home country first.

Working in your home country first is the simplest and most financially stable way to launch a career abroad because:

  1. You'll develop skills that will be valuable overseas (for example, in Switzerland, specific computer skills, scientific knowledge, and management experience is in demand because a tiny country of 7 million people can't cover every specific skill needed).
  2. You'll have a few years of experience, which will give you potential to earn a comfortable living abroad and be taken seriously.
  3. You may have the option of being transferred by your international company, which will most likely pay your moving expenses, give you a stipend for an apartment, and offer many other benefits.
  4. The company transferring you will deal with most of the legal paperwork and visa issues. (Sometimes they'll even pay for someone to do your taxes).
  5. When you arrive you'll have built-in support from the company's HR department.

Some international companies with offices in Switzerland:




Credit Suisse





Saatchi & Saatchi

Ernst & Young


There are many international companies. In most cases, all you need to do is check the company's website to see its locations. And don't forget that many companies are part of larger networks. For example, the advertising agency I worked for in the U.S. was part of a larger holding company that included many other agencies and I was able to find a job in Switzerland at one of the sister agencies.

Just remember, before you go looking for work abroad, look at home first. An international company at home will most likely help you work abroad in a few years when the right opportunity comes along. And then you can work abroad in style. Good luck.


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Love the image of a foreign guest running away from the party. Good stuff. Curiousity: Do the other folks in your building stick around, or is leaving during the noise ...

Saleem Reshamwala on Swiss Party Pooper 2009-02-16

That's a great question. I think the locals are more accepting of the craziness because these all-night parties are a part of their culture. For example, one night during a ...

Chantal Panozzo on Swiss Party Pooper 2009-02-17

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