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Relocating for a job in tech? It doesn’t have to be as terrifying as it sounds

Stylish traveller with wheelie luggage heads for a flight - relocating for work.

ARTICLE SUMMARY

With it being one of the most common fields for expats to work in around the world, along with education and finance, many women in tech may be considering relocating for work or may have even relocated already.

We hear from Katya Kim, Leadership Development Consultant and the Founder of WhizzMind, who gives her advice on relocating for a job and why it doesn’t have to be scary.

Katya Kim, Leadership Development Consultant and the Founder of WhizzMind

Having spent 14 years in HR and Talent, Kim gained her experience with multinational pharmaceutical companies, as well as within the retail, tech and fashion industries. She is a proud immigrant, passionate about DEI and supporting young people in their career development.  

RELOCATING FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CAREER CAN BE INCREDIBLY DAUNTING.

I speak from personal experience. But I promise that it doesn’t have to be as terrifying as it sounds.  

With IT being one of the most common fields for expats to work in around the world, many women in tech may be considering relocating for work or may even have relocated already. If you’re one of those women then firstly, congratulations and go you! It’s a big decision to make and you should be proud of taking that huge step to further your career. Secondly, I hope that today I can help with some of the challenges you may be facing. I’ve been there and I know it can be tricky navigating the change, but I also know that you can do it. You can thrive in your new place of work.  

 ENSURE YOU KNOW ALL YOUR VISA CONDITIONS 

To work in the UK, everyone needs the right to work. Employers take it very seriously, as there are penalties for hiring people without the right to work. With a student visa, people need to check how many hours they can work and for how long and inform their new employer. Another type of visa widely used is a ‘Skilled Worker’ visa, which allows people to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. Not every company can provide visa sponsorship, but there are some. Especially with IT and tech jobs it’s worth exploring. There is a list of eligible jobs on the Home Office website and the minimum salary. 

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE NEW CULTURE (BOTH ORGANISATIONALLY AND GEOGRAPHICALLY) AND LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN  

I was panicking when I just started to work in the UK. I was thinking about my accent and worried about forgetting words while I was presenting something to a wider group of people. But thanks to kind colleagues, I could overcome my barrier by simply admitting that I will always have this accent and English will always be my second language. So, instead of trying to make it perfect, I started to collect interesting idioms and it turned out really well. I couldn’t speak at the same speed as my colleagues, but I enjoyed listening to them and asking questions. I would try not to worry too much about things like this and work to embrace who you are. Your place of work should have an inclusive environment, and of course, the manager should offer you support. 

In larger organisations there are often a number of networking groups, clubs and meetings. Try it all! Make connections where you can and bring your experience to the table. If your organisation is smaller you can talk to your colleagues, ask them about their career journey, traditions they love the most or the most interesting tourist attractions they would recommend.  

OBSERVE FIRST AND THEN DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP 

Observation helps us to understand ways of working. Being upfront and asking questions about the culture and traditions of this organisation will make things easier. As people we’re interested in each other stories. It’s your organisations job to create a nurturing environment, connect people and make sure that everyone feels safe and heard. 

When you see what this organisation’s culture is about make sure you start to step up and bring your ideas. Speak up during the meetings and share your thoughts. For some people it will take just one day to adapt, but for some, it may be longer. And that’s all right! We are all different.

Only you can know when the right moment will come. 

If you meet a great colleague who is very open to share their experience, ask them to be your buddy or even a mentor. In the worst case, you will get ‘no’ as the answer, but it will open a new development opportunity for them too. 

Let your HR or well-being team know when you feel ready to become a buddy yourself. You can then support newcomers from other countries and pass on your knowledge. This can be incredibly rewarding.  

FIND YOUR TRIBE – MEET OTHER EXPATS (AND NOT JUST IN YOUR OFFICE) 

Outside of work try to find local groups or meet-ups. There are some apps and websites where you can find these based on your interests. If you are a parent, you could try a parent group for example. If you are passionate about helping others, then you could join volunteering organisations. In my case, when I struggled to find local groups of interest I just created my own events and invited people via social media.  

I also started to follow ‘connectors’ – people with a large network. STEM group really helped me to feel more confident, and another female-led volunteering community connected me with my mentee, who actually mentored me far more than I did her. 

While adjusting to new ways of working, a new culture and a new environment won’t be instantaneous, you’d be surprised of your own capabilities when faced with new challenges. Moving to a new country and a new place of work can sometimes feel lonely, which is exactly why I encourage you to reach out to others in your position. I promise you’re not alone.  

Your relocation is likely opening lots of new doors for you in the world of technology.

Try as many of them as you can and embrace this wonderful opportunity. The global technology industry needs more women making bold decisions and pushing boundaries. That can be you.  

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