Getting Ahead by Going Abroad

by Dual Income No Kids on October 2, 2007 · 0 comments

As our regular readers know, from time to time we get books to review from Harper Collins Publishers. We do so with full freedom to critique as we like. Thus far that has often meant that we’ve ripped them apart and begun thinking of publishing ourselves since the competition appears to be limited.

One of the most recent books we’ve received was Get Ahead by Going Abroad: A Woman’s Guide to Fast-Track Career Success, by C. Perry Yeatman and Stacie Nevadomski Berdan. Here’s a full summary from the publishers.

While this subject might not be for all of our readers, I do think that they did an excellent job of pointing out the advantages of working abroad and some pointers on how to get there. In my field working abroad is essential to any real career development, thus my currently being in Afghanistan. Yeatman and Berdan come from a more corporate perspective, but I find this to be a valuable asset to their book.

The arguments for working abroad in any field you can manage makes sense though. While there are certainly a great number of perks in working abroad, the benefits of real life experience are undeniable as well.

Even starting at the bottom of the totem pole, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I do believe that a lot of credit is given to those individuals who can go abroad and hack it at any level. Initially going through the PCV recruitment process I remember thinking that ones ability to “hack it” would be high on the list of determining whether someone got in. I still find this to be a valuable lesson in hiring and promoting people. Essentially you want to know that you can depend on this individual to do what it takes to get the job done.

Demonstrating flexibility and critical thinking skills are also the icing on the cake. While many overseas posting can be a posh set up, it still takes a great deal to navigate unfamiliar territory. Getting to those posh jobs also builds a great deal of credit along the way.

Yeatman and Berdan lists five common traits that are built by living abroad:

  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Ability to listen and communicate well
  • Skill at building teams and relationships
  • Patience and persistence (a complementary twosome)
  • Curiosity and open-mindedness

Obviously these are all skills that are value anywhere in the world, a truly transportable set of skills.

They also pointed out a couple of biggies that have come up on James and my lists in our decision to have me take this job in Afghanistan. There are some very practical financial reasons that a woman interested in having a family would want to take an overseas posting.

  • Leaving work or scaling back later in your career is much easier if you’ve already achieved a higher paying salary
  • International credentials will make you more desirable to work part time as a professional
  • If you continue to work overseas once you have children, child care costs will be much cheaper and often much higher quality than you could find stateside

Going abroad might not be for everyone, but those who do take the opportunity will be aptly rewarded.

Reading this book on my flights to Afghanistan definitely made me consider the I could be one of the anecdotes in their book. For me, as I take that as a compliment in choosing to take the fast track.

If we have any readers out there you have given it a go abroad we would love to hear from you.



P.S. Their bios also make sure that the book is based on reality:

By age 33, C. Perry Yeatman had worked in Singapore, Moscow, and London. Today she is a senior vice-president and one of the top 50 executives at Kraft Foods, the world’s second-largest food and beverage company.

Stacie Nevadomski Berdan became a vice-president at Burson-Marsteller, the world’s leading PR firm, at age 27. She later jumped from vice-president to global managing director after a three-year stint in Asia. She is now a successful author, speaker and consultant.

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