Not long ago, I was stressing over final exams as I finished the last quarter of my PR degree at Otterbein College in Ohio.
It felt like a tough time to be a recent graduate. Instead of feeling optimistic about a world of opportunities, graduation was something to delay or fear.
I had also given myself another challenge. Not only did I want to graduate and land a killer job with an awesome company, but also I wanted to do this on the other side of the world—in Sydney, Australia.
I reached this goal and now work in digital marketing in Sydney.
Here are a few lessons I learned in my job search abroad.
Start making connections early
I started my job search abroad more than a year before I ever got the offer and moved. It was casual in the beginning, but it was still networking. I used my free time to follow Aussies on Twitter, identify the local influencers, and start reading up Australian blogs.
I also made more personal connections with some Sydney-siders. My friend Roger (now working at Ogilvy Social in Sydney) was one of the first people to help steer me in the right direction. He co-organizes a meet-up called PRINKS for those in PR, digital, social media, etc. I wrote a guest post for the PRINKS blog and followed the hashtag before I moved to Sydney and attended my first PRINKS meet-up in person.
Use relevant networks such as Help A PR Professional Out (HAPPO) to find professionals in your field. We have so many opportunities to connect in this digital job search age.
Do your homework
I often get emails from students asking how they can live and work abroad. I love sharing my experience and some advice, but it quickly becomes apparent who has does their homework and who hasn’t.
If you can’t name at least one company you’re interested in working for, or know what type of visa you might need to consider, then you’re probably not that serious about making that move abroad.
People will help you along the way, but don’t expect everything to be handed to you. Also, consider the fact that your experience in landing a job abroad might be a different path than others. You need to be prepared. My expatriate friends who work in digital and PR have taken all sorts of journeys to end up in Sydney. Our stories are certainly not the same.
Maintain a positive mindset
In 2006, only about 20 percent of Americans owned a passport. This has now shifted to closer to 37 percent since the changes made for travel between Canada and Mexico. Even then, it’s still quite low. I never realized how little Americans travel overseas, until I left and began to see my country from an outsider’s perspective.
The first challenge most soon-to-be-grads face when looking to move abroad for work is that they aren’t taught to consider it as a real possibility. When I was a senior, few people were encouraging me to leave the country. It was difficult to find mentors who had made a similar move. It took me awhile to change my own mindset and come to believe in myself and believe that I could reach my goal.
To make it there, you’ll need to believe that it’s possible.
Hannah DeMilta is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but now lives in Sydney Australia. She works in digital marketing, specializing in blogger and influencer outreach. She is curator of The Fetch Sydney, a guide to what’s happening across business, digital, and creative locally. Follow her blog at hannahdemilta.com or say “hello” on Twitter @HannahDeMilta. A version of this story appeared on the blog Communications Conversations.