Working internationally is often a mystery for architects, yet you can take quick actions to make the transition a little easier. As an architect, you are tasked with taking on challenges that are usually tied to the community and progress. Keep these simple tips in mind when preparing to practice internationally.
Make sure your profile shows up for the correct decision maker
If you are interested in finding a job abroad, make sure you are presenting yourself in the areas where you want to live. This means that you should try to target the decision makers in these regions you want to target. Most firms can’t afford to sponsor visas and move people across the world. Large offices might be able to do this, but not the smaller firms that make up the majority of the architecture profession. Networking is also the single best way to get hired; you need some sort of personal connection, and being based locally is the best way to integrate yourself into the design community, but if you can virtually arrive first then you have an advantage once arriving in person.
Look into your professional network, and what it can bring
The world is smaller than you think, and there is a good chance you can develop leads in almost any city in the world through your professional network. While getting hired locally tends to be easier, it does have its own challenges. The main barrier to making such a move is that it requires you to front the cost of travel and finding a place to live in the city you would like to move to. Ideally, you can get hired at a foreign firm, and many times they are willing to facilitate the financial costs of moving. You should consider all of these different options when trying to make the move.
Always join a firm with skills to help them grow too
Many international firms tend to hire foreign staff to lead the design efforts while relying on local architects to address the codes, regulations, drafting, and rendering tasks. Yet at times, it can be difficult to communicate design ideas across multiple languages, and there are also cultural expectations in regards to design that do not always align. Makes sure that you are promoting yourself and your skill set that can blend in with the other architects and designers they have at the firm already.
Turn challenges into opportunities
Living and working abroad often comes with language and cultural barriers that can make aspects of life difficult, both within an office and outside a firm. It isn’t always easy to make close friends, especially with locals. There are aspects of different cultures that you are not used to and it could create tension within a small team of designers. Language barriers extended to the legal aspects of moving, living, and working abroad. Navigating the visa requirements, government forms, health care, taxes, banking, and seemingly simple things like setting up phones in foreign countries isn’t easy.
When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-US, and improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.