Making it in the Big Apple
Rajesh Vora (Politics, 2009)
Where: New York, USA
After exploring roles in business development and account management, Rajesh is Director of Sales at SiteCompli, a New York-based technology company.
Why did you choose to move to New York?
“I’d visited the US a lot when I was younger as my brother studied in Pennsylvania and eventually settled there. From those visits, I always knew I’d love it here. I decided on New York because it’s the epicentre – there’s a unique energy here and I love the whole 24/7 element. They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere and I saw that as a challenge.”
Was it easy to find your feet in a new country?
“I have a big grin on my face as I say this – it’s been all over the place frankly. I gave up all the security I had in the UK and I’ve never felt like I’m on firm footing. That’s kind of the point though. I’ve changed careers since moving out here, been fired, quit jobs, moved five different times and started two businesses.”
I haven't found my feet and hope never to – it's just a constant learning process and you enjoy the ride.
What’s your best tip for developing your career abroad?
“Network. I’m a big fan of the old school methods – send emails to people, having researched them and their companies. Go to every ‘Meetup’ event that’s relevant to your preferred industry. Hit the pavement – just drop in on companies, what’s the downside? Talk to everyone and let them know you are looking – you’ll find job offers in the weirdest places.”
What are the challenges you’ve faced?
“Things are fast paced here and very competitive, so staying relevant in your position is a real concern. In sales especially, you’re only as good as your last quarter and that keeps the pressure on. It’s very different to the UK, where I feel there is more job security and probably less impetus to overperform every moment. That was an early wake up call.”
What do you enjoy most about living in New York?
“This is home now. When I think back to my days in the UK, it kind of feels like a vacation I took…weird, I know, but true.
You’re always a novelty here. Being from the UK gives you an instant air of the exotic and you can easily strike up a conversation with anyone. Americans are far more open to chatting to strangers anyway, and New York is a hub for ‘meeting new people’, it’s such a transient, buzzing city. You meet tons of people and they all have amazing stories from all over the world. It really does feel like we’re all gathered here on this island for some larger purpose – everyone has such a great energy and zest for enjoying what New York has to offer.”
The Nottingham connection
James Capel (Psychology, 2014)
Dominic Williams (Management, 2015)
Lucy Hardy (Psychology, 2016)
Where: Auckland, New Zealand
Since: James – 2015; Dom and Lucy – 2016
James, Dominic and Lucy are part of a group of young Nottingham graduates working for SmartLeader apps, a technology start-up launched by the Institute of Strategic Leadership in New Zealand.
How did your international adventure begin?
James: “I came to New Zealand at the end of my backpacking trip through Asia and Australia. I wanted to get some work in New Zealand so I had some experience on my CV when I returned home to the UK. I managed to get a six-week internship at the Institute for Strategic Leadership (ISL) and nearly two years later I still haven’t left! I was the second intern the ISL had employed from Nottingham. When SmartLeader apps was launched as a stand-alone company, the directors had been impressed by the quality of Nottingham graduates and wanted to hire more.”
Dominic: “The opportunity to move to New Zealand was very unexpected for me. I found out about the job in Auckland through a friend at the company. I had always enjoyed travelling and when I was offered the job, I leapt at the chance to move abroad for the year.”
Lucy: “I was unsure about what I wanted to do after University. I was really keen to hit two birds with one stone and get some work experience while travelling a new country at the same time. I found out about the job at the ISL from the University’s psychology Facebook page as they were looking to recruit a psychology graduate. When I’d been looking into working abroad, New Zealand hadn’t crossed my mind but it seemed like a great opportunity – and I really love it here!”
Did you find it easy to adjust to living in a new country?
James: “I found it fairly easy. I’d come to New Zealand after spending time travelling so I was used to being away from home. New Zealand has a very similar culture to the UK, so finding my feet wasn’t hard. Auckland is a very international and multi-cultural city with lots of expats – it feels like a home away from home now!”
Dominic: “I had a friend in Auckland, who helped to show me the ropes over the first few weeks. New Zealanders are very welcoming people. I moved into a flat with five Kiwis – living with locals has hugely added to my experience.”
Lucy: “The first month was pretty challenging for me. It was a shock going from University, where you’re surrounded by so many friends, to a new environment where you have to start all over with no obvious networks. It was also my first ‘proper’ job, which was always going to be a learning curve. But it got a lot easier very quickly, and now I’m settled here, I’ve never looked back.”
What advice would you give for others looking to work abroad?
James: “I found my job through a recruitment agency – Internships NZ. There are plenty of agencies looking to hire from the UK for Australia and New Zealand – as far as I’m concerned, they do a fantastic job. Developing your career over here is all about hard work. Immigration is a hot topic, so you have to make sure you’re adding real value to your organisation and prove why you’re worth your pay packet over a New Zealander.”
Have you faced any difficulties?
Lucy: “I spent a year studying abroad at University, and I expected the experience to be similar, but in reality it’s been completely different. Moving to a new country for work has been challenging, and has required me to step out of my comfort zone more than I expected. But I’ve learnt so much about myself through this experience.”
Dominic: “The biggest challenge is being so far from home and missing important events. It takes some time to get used to, but with technology such as Skype and Facebook, it’s easier to stay in touch with everyone at home.”
What do you love most about living in New Zealand?
James: “It’s a complete change from the pace of life in London. I’ve enjoyed gaining a different perspective on business, politics and culture. London can get clogged with bureaucracy and red tape, but Kiwis tend to have a very relaxed and informal manner when it comes to business, which is refreshing.”
Lucy: “I love the way of life here! The ‘outdoorsy’ culture and nature in New Zealand is awesome and the work culture is relaxed too. I’ve spent my weekends travelling around the country and have gained so much invaluable experience from work.”
Dominic: “I’ve been lucky enough to travel the length of the country and have been involved in some fantastic projects at the company. I’ve learnt to just go for it. People tend to shy away from opportunities like this – jump at the chance, you won’t regret it!”
Following your heart
Luke Vaillancourt (Sociology and Social Policy, 2012)
Where: New York, USA
One half of the vlogging couple behind V-Squared, Luke moved overseas to live the life of his dreams.
Was it easy to make the decision to move abroad?
“I’d always known that I wanted to live abroad, even for a short period. It so happens that my husband is a native New Yorker, and so after two years of us living in the UK, it felt like the right time for us to move to the other side of the pond.
But the process of establishing a new life abroad definitely wasn’t easy! It’s easy to take your independence for granted until it’s taken away from you. I had to wait months before I could receive my social security card (think national insurance number), which is a requirement for pretty much everything else, such as a bank account or driver’s license. I felt very dependent on my husband for everything, which made me feel very homesick. But once I got settled, everything was smooth sailing.”
What was your experience of securing a job in New York?
“We made our YouTube career our full-time jobs once we moved here, but I really missed the work environment and took a communications role at a non-profit.
“When finding a job in a city like New York, you’re one among hundreds of candidates. Applications come in thick and fast – you can’t just submit one and expect to be given a fair chance of being noticed. You need to utilise every network you can to find a connection. Call companies up, let them know you’ve applied, and make sure you stand out!”
Don't be afraid to overstate
your accomplishments –
there's no room for British reserve here!
What’s the best part of living abroad?
“I’ve noticed that Americans are a lot less likely to draw a strict line between their personal and work lives. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I’d hear about people’s families or interests after just meeting them. In the UK, people maintain a professional front that has to be slowly broken down. Somehow, people just seem more relaxed about their work lives here.
But I really miss parts of British culture, like going to the local pub with friends. It’s not something you can easily explain to Americans! And drinking tea. There’s nothing more comforting than hearing the phrase ‘I’ll put the kettle on’.”
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learnt?
“I once read a quote that said you will only discover who you truly are once you are taken out of your familiar surroundings. It’s definitely true! I’ve learnt a lot about who I am and what I want from life by living somewhere new. It’s exciting, overwhelming and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
“I think I’ve definitely succumbed to the ‘American Dream’ attitude. You are your best champion, and it’s up to you to make people realise that you’re valuable. Life isn’t going to wait around for you to make the right decision – as my friends from Brooklyn would say, ‘Go big or go home’.”