Thursday, March 11, 2010

Working overseas: a passport to a better career (and life)

I'm still working on the resumes I've been sent after running a gauntlet of a day of meetings. What's caught my eye from these resumes as well as some of the emails I received recently is how many of you are considering or even angling for working abroad. Perhaps you attended school overseas as part of your college curriculum, or perhaps it's something you've always wanted to do. Regardless, it can provide you with a great life and career experience. Some principles of putting together a building and working in a firm are universal-- e.g., keep water and weather out of the building, make sure you use your time wisely your work--but there will be things you learn at a foreign firm that you won't get at a U.S. firm. Also, you might be able to use your experience as marketing when you work in the States again--imagine being able to get foreign work or teaming with an overseas firm because you have experience working in that country!

If you want to count the time you spend at a foreign firm towards your IDP, you'll need to work for an architect who is licensed to practice in the U.S. However, it's not the end of the world if you can't count the hours--the experience is still invaluable. According to a 2009 study by INSEAD and the Kellogg School of Management, people who have lived abroad tend to be more creative and better negotiators than those who have not. Having said that, I found a few websites that might help someone looking into working and living abroad. Culture Crossing provides information of various etiquette rules of other countries. If you want to figure out what it will cost to live in another country, check out Xpatulator.


  1. Lulu~
    It's R, from Australia checking back in. Still keeping up and enjoying the blogs!
    However, I just need to set the record straight about working abroad. NCARB, , does allow up to 1,880 hours abroad under an architect credentialed in their own country under what is called Work Setting C.
    As one abroad, it's been great to travel and work literally at the same time. Some site visits have been explorations in parts of Sydney that I would have never traveled to. The first time I crossed the Sydney Harbo(u)r Bridge was enroute to a jobsite observation.
    Another fun first for me is actually using the metric system! Oh, what a joy to be five years old again and have to relearn how to measure and size everything. 6'8 Door? Nope, 2400mm. If you're from the US, you owe yourself a mathmatical favor to leave for a 'fraction' of time.
    With an entire new library of acronyms to learn, and buiding codes to cypher through, you'd think the heartache of relearning the most entrenched knowlege would kill people. i.e. here the sun shines from the north.
    But alas, we are architects, we live for problem solving things just like these. When the design team gets together, we all speak the same intrinsic language of architecture, no matter how our verbal communication allows.

    So to those thinking about going over seas...Why haven't you already?

    American intern in Australia

  2. R--

    thanks for the clarification on the working overseas rule--I must have misread that part. And thanks for being an enthusiastic supporter of overseas travel. I think we're all better for it when we see something outside our own borders. Stay in touch, man!