It’s the millennial careerwoman’s dream: live and work abroad, see the world, make friends in far-flung places, leverage international experiences to get better pay and responsibility.
So when presented with the chance to make an international move a reality, or presented with the new reality of that international move, unfamiliarity with the local culture can make the simplest acts paralyzing. Gahh I’ll never be able to find a place/get Internet/make friends. I’m going to lay face first on my couch foreverrr.
Recently, a PR rep emailed me to ask if I would take a look at a book for career-minded women considering working abroad. Moving Without Shaking (Moving Without Shaking Ltd, June 30, 2014), by Yelena Parker, draws on Parker’s experience as a Ukrainian expat working in Silicon Valley, Geneva and London, and on the experiences of eight other women across 12 countries. In addition to being a technology executive, Parker now provides expat coaching and career consulting.
Moving Without Shaking is a quick read. The friendly, sisterly tone takes you through the 268 pages quite quickly. Reading that people who pursue a life abroad are people who have “A sense that where they grew up was too small” resonated with me, and perhaps resonates with you. This isn’t a knock on people who stay in their hometowns; it’s just a way to explain that for some people, their interests may not be satisfied by what their local environment offers them. And the Internet can only do some much.
Among the eight women profiled in the book, there is likely one profile that the reader will take an interest and relate to. For me, my favorite thread was one of a Colombian woman working abroad:
Diana has two brothers. In Colombian culture, she was a girl surrounded by confident macho men in the family. When she decided to attend a university in the UK, she told her siblings about the plan. They were concerned. They didn’t want to be unsupportive but they talked among themselves about how little Diana was not going to survive. Years later, after Diana earned her masters in business in the UK and had worked for over seven years at American companies with a global footprint, as an EMEA sales operations lead, the brothers now say she is their hero and, frankly, the man in the family. Note that she doesn’t perceive this as a derogatory term. Neither do I. It’s a nod to tradition that has been turned upside down by a modern generation of women.
–From Moving Without Shaking, by Yelena Parker
What a cool, empowering story. Having a variety of viewpoints helps the reader identify with someone like her (or him), which helps in recognizing that a big move has been done and can be done.
As for advice, Parker emphasizes adopting a transplant mindset when moving abroad, which is different than an expat mindset:
An expat goes into a move with expectations that this living arrangement is temporary, and therefore doesn’t really immerse herself into the new community.
A transplant goes into a move with expectations of setting up a life for the time being, and makes the investments into that life.
I see this book as something you gift to a high school grad, or a college grad, an ambitious woman who wants a worldly career. It wouldn’t hurt to maybe leave a copy on a parent’s coffee table as well.
Parker was gracious enough to answer some questions via email I had about the book. She shared her experiences about being an expat vs. being a transplant, ensuring her own personal safety abroad, and working with a Kiwi boss. That email interview will be in the next post.