I was coaching one of my Asian clients today, one of the hundreds that I have seen through their early career years, and was struck by just how hard he had been working to fit into the new (for him) culture of the UK. Allen told me that when he had first arrived from China, he had felt cold, and not understood the labels on food in the shops. He had singularly failed to understand the accent where he was studying (Liverpool! I comforted him that I found it pretty difficult to manage that one too!), not grasped for ages that the approach to education, study and self-development are completely at odds with those in his country. In all aspects, he had struggled terribly. He felt lonely in his sterile campus room, and found solace in ordering noodles from the local Chinese take-away, where at least he could find friendly flavours and accents!
Does this feel familiar to any of you? Baked beans anyone? Nice cuppa tea? Don’t mind if I do! How are you doing at expanding your horizons and finding a job that suits you, now you are in a new country?
The way Allen solved his problem was to get out and about, to meet people, to join in activities, to risk making a fool of himself. He did make a terrible idiot of himself, many, many, many times, but he never gave up! He joined a choir, he went to a local church, he played football, and he strummed a guitar, but always on the search for interaction. And he got what he wanted! He asked endless questions, no doubt annoying to some, but he got his answers and built his new life. And now, he is preparing for a final interview for a job as an auditor at KPMG in Manchester.
Are you willing to make that kind of effort to get to the place you want to be? Many of you are far away from home, labouring, just like Allen, with a language that you may not quite master, but all of you have the opportunity of striving just a little more. Or even a lot more! Little by little, ask yourself how you might improve, not just your language skills, but also your sense of belonging, if you joined the local choir. You might even find a connection there with someone who could introduce you to your future employer!
Grit is described as “courage and resolve; strength of character”. Have you got grit? Are you applying it to solving your career questions? Your fitting in to your local community? If you are, then, bravo! I am pretty sure you will find your right path soon. If you are not, then I wish you a little bit of courage in taking the first step.
Either way, there is always more we can do to improve our lot. Always one more article to read and learn from, one more kindness to carry out for a neighbour, and one more connection to strike up with a stranger. It is not easy, but then, nobody ever promised you life would be easy, did they?
Transitions are hard! You might enjoy reading this article which examines the lives of several professionals who started their career far from home. Their stories prove it is hard, but rewarding. If you need some help with figuring out how to do it, then please get in touch!
To read this article in its original publication, you can go here