I recently came across a lecture by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and author of The Startup of You, that I think applies to young professionals who are interested in working internationally. In this lecture (available here) Reid explains that the traditional career model of climbing the career ladder no longer works for young professionals. Technology, competition, and the recent financial crisis have all changed the way business is done, and has also changed how we must look at our careers. While being the entrepreneur of our own lives doesn’t necessarily mean starting a business (although it can), it means that we must apply entrepreneurial principles to the way we think about and manage our careers.
So what are these entrepreneurial principles and how do they apply to working internationally?
1. Be Contrarian, and Be Right
It’s okay to be contrarian when thinking about your career. In fact, these days it is probably necessary. Technology moves faster, and business cycles are shorter than ever before. The traditional career path that our parents followed no longer exists for us. Too many candidates are applying for too few jobs. You need to stand out and be remarkable. Just as entrepreneurs differentiate their products, you need to differentiate your career. Working internationally is a great way to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competition. So go ahead and be contrarian when thinking about working abroad, you will probably be right.
2. Take Intelligent Risks
Sure, it’s risky to take a job overseas, to live in an unfamiliar city and a new culture. But is it really that risky? Compare the growth of the Brazilian economy and the strength of its job market to the anemic economic growth and high unemployment rate for young professionals in the U.S. Where is the opportunity for professional development greater? It is risky to learn a new language, but the payoff after a few months of work is a lifetime of fluency in Portuguese. Being the entrepreneur of your own life means measuring, mitigating, and taking risks throughout your career. Remember, sometimes the biggest risk of all is not taking one.
3. Look for Breakout Opportunities
Brazil is suffering from a severe shortage of qualified labor. This provides amazing opportunities for those people who are willing to look at working in Brazil. Think about the trajectory of your career. Are you doing meaningful work? How much responsibility do you have? What opportunities does your current job provide you to “breakout” and find significant success? In addition to incredible cross-cultural experiences, American professionals that choose to work in Brazil are having meaningful work experiences, with significantly more responsibility than they had in their jobs in the U.S. If you know where you want to go, Brazil can get you there faster.
For more information on how to be the entrepreneur of your own life, read Hoffman’s book, The Startup of You. As you begin to think of your career in an entrepreneurial way, stay connected with Hemishare to find the unique, meaningful job opportunities that will take your career where you want it to go.