Finding a Job Abroad After College

I love telling the story of how I ended up in Australia. I have to love telling it, because I get asked all the time. When people hear my accent they want to know why I’m in Sydney and how it came to be. However, the people I’ve most enjoyed sharing my story with over the last couple years are students from back home in the US.

I wrote a guest post recent for Arik Hanson’s blog, Communications Conversations giving advice about finding a job abroad after college. It also got picked up by PR Daily. I was amazed by the response. Several students and recent grads tweeted me saying they shared this dream of moving abroad and working overseas.  I had wrote that one of the biggest challenges of finding a job abroad is believing that it’s possible. I think it’s especially tough for students from the US, who don’t grow up in a culture of travel and exploring the world.

The Australians are wonderful at this. So many of my Aussie friends have travelled internationally with their families from a young age.  Some chose to take gap years, go backpacking, and see the world before starting university or a full time job. Others waited until later, and then left their jobs to go travel. While it’s certainly not something everyone here has to do, it’s also not strange to hear about. For a young professional working in the States, it would probably never happen. If you got up and left, your job would not be waiting for you 10 months later upon your return. Without getting into the current economic differences, between Australia and the US, I do believe there are cultural elements at play.

To clarify, I’m not a world traveller. In fact, I’m not an expert on how to move abroad or job searching. I just love sharing my story. I hope that every soon-to-be-grad who has a vision of living and working overseas has someone who validates that dream for them.  Sometimes we need someone to give us an extra pat on the back and tell us we can reach our goals. That extra push is what helped me to achieve when I was already capable of achieving.

Good luck class of 2012. If you’re headed to Sydney, please let me know and I’ll shout you a coffee when you arrive.

Moving Day

All packed and ready to go!

I’m moving to a new place today. I’m bummed to leave Surry Hills, but I won’t be far away. My new spot is just on the other side of Oxford Street, in the lovely suburb of Darlinghurst.

Packing up my things reminded me of my promise for this new year to consumes less. It’s shocking how much I’ve seem to have collected over the last year and a half while living in Sydney. When I moved here I brought four large suitcases (shoes and clothing mostly). I definitely couldn’t fit my belongings now into those same four suitcases. What’s even worse is that I have stuff back in Ohio still. Stuff I haven’t used in 2+ years, collecting dust.

I do think that it’s a physiological challenge to battle “owning” things. I’m not a crazy hoarder or obsessive compulsive shopper by any means, but I don’t think I have the mindset (right now) to own less. I don’t understand what it means to be a minimalist. It’s something I have to work on changing and it’s not as simple as “just getting rid of stuff.”

Do you feel like owning too much “stuff” weighs you down? Any advice you can share? 

Customer Service and the Tipping Culture

cc license, Christopher Walker

When I moved to Australia it was weird not to leave tips in restaurants. I was still used to the 15-20% standard at home. On a related note, I also found the service at many establishments awful. It was frustrating, and then I found myself getting more frustrated for allowing such a silly thing to bother me.

A year and a half later, I’m mostly over it. Instead of being fed up with bad service, I appreciate really awesome service when I experience it. It’s something to celebrate rather than just have to expect in a tipping culture. Good service is genuine here. When someone is friendly and goes out of their way it makes me smile. I love that feeling.

I’m also happy not to tip. Stuff here is expensive enough already. I don’t need to add a 20% on top of that. As a general rule, I do still leave a small tip at nice restaurants for exceptional service. I’m really curious on what percentage of Australians tip at restaurants, and how much.

What is your experience with tipping and customer service in Australia?  

Some Thoughts on Getting Paid

cc license, timsnell I see a lot of blog posts about why you shouldn’t work for free, but I think that society undervalues the volunteer at times. This post isn’t meant to dismiss situations where you should be charging for your time, but rather speak up for the role of the volunteer.

My mum taught me the importance of giving back from an early age. I always joke that my first volunteer experiences were hardly “voluntary” because she was the one signing me up. Now I’m grateful. It used to disappoint her when someone signed up to volunteer and then wouldn’t show up because they felt their commitment wasn’t as binding due to the fact they were an unpaid volunteer. It’s the wrong mindset.

Sometimes getting paid to do something is not possible or not likely. This shouldn’t hold you back. If money isn’t your reason for doing something, it won’t hold you back from helping an important cause, mission or not-for-profit. We should value these chances to help.

Not getting paid extends to more than just charitable work in my mind. Some things we do in life won’t always be about making money. Sometimes, it’s about doing something you love, something you enjoy. The cliché saying we all know is, “there is more to life than money.” Yes, everyone needs to make a living but not everything we do has a dollar amount attached to it.

I’ve also found that getting paid to do something potentially changes expectations both for yourself and the person paying you. When you’re getting paid it can ruin the “fun” element. The person paying you might expect more than when you were a volunteer. Now that you’re suddenly getting paid you could also get fired.

When you’re not following your passion, helping someone who needs you, or feel that you’re being taken advantage of for some reason– then revaluate your situation and ask again if you should still be working for free.

What are your thoughts on getting paid? 

Eating my way through Sydney

Game of Thrones @ GastroPark

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thank goodness summer is almost over. It’s been raining non-stop and I’ve been eating so much delicious food that I need a big winter sweater to bundle up in ASAP. I’m not sure what it is about this time of year but I’ve been lining up a few little foodie adventures I wanted to share with you. Perhaps it will inspire you to discover something tasty in Sydney.

I finally tried Longrain in Surry Hills. This has been a restaurant on my list since moving to Sydney. It had been recommended by a friend who used to live here. I think I probably built it up too much in my mind. We had a really nice dinner here, but it didn’t “wow” me like I wanted it too. That being said, I do want to go back with a big group and try more dishes. I think it’s a place that you need to try several of the dinners. For dessert I had yummiest black sticky rice with coconut cream and mango. Next new Surry Hills spot to check out will be Watts on Crown. My brunch partner in crime Trish spotted it.

Later this month we are going to an event at El Loco called “Vinos y Tacos” – it’s part of March into Merivale. This is a month-long series that Merivale (they have 12 restaurants and 25+ bars) put on each year. They have classes and dinner specials listed on their website.

I also somehow got talked into going to a crazy Game of Thrones feast at GastroPark. It’s a medieval dinner to celebrate the DVD release of this HBO series. I’ve never seen it, but apparently it’s pretty entertaining. I was just sold on the idea of going to an awesome medieval feast. I’ll have to watch a few of the shows before I go.

I’ve been geeking out a lot about the food trucks coming to Sydney. Major squeeee! This map with the truck locations on Google Maps was being shared on Twitter over the weekend. Here is some information on the 10 Trucks and a video from the City of Sydney with some more information. It all seems really thought out and structured so I hope they do well.  I am definitely organising a “food truck crawl” later this year.

To top it all off, this month is also “Parched March” where Sydney-siders are encouraged to drink at 30 new bars. Yes, this is a real thing, and yes, it also has a charity component so you can’t hate on it. There are participating bars offering drinks specials and the website has plenty of information about the event and the cause. While I won’t formally be participating in the campaign – I like to think that I’m an unofficial Parched March (and year-long) participant and supporter of Sydney small bars.

What other foodie adventures can we go on? 

My Neglected Google Reader

The way I consume blogs has changed. I used to follow specific blogs and people. I enjoyed this. You appreciate blogs that you follow over a period of time — you learn things about that blogger that help to fill in the gaps when reading. It gives new posts context. I’ve also found that following a blog over time is like watching a comedy series on TV. The humor grows on you at times. I think reading the same blog long term can make you appreciate that blogger’s wit and writing style.

Over the last couple years I find myself still reading a lot of blog posts, but few blogs. I read articles shared on Twitter and Facebook, while my Google Reader is rarely checked.  I feel that that still enjoy and connect with the content, but often know nothing of the author.

I’m not entirely sure why this happened. Part of it might have been the explosion of blogs out there. It seems like everyone and their dog has a blog now. I don’t mind this, but it’s tough to comb through all the information. I also can’t keep up with such a long list of blogs. I feel as though I need a curated cut of the best posts. By only reading posts recommended and shared on Twitter I hope that this is what I’m getting. However, I still miss following blogs. How do I find a balance in this without spending an insane number of hours reading blogs?

Do you follow specific bloggers on a day to day basis?

Can’t shut me up: A year for public speaking

Speaking @ The Blogger Relations Forum 2011

I like to think I put a lot of time into learning and trying new things. I’m a curious person and I try to challenge myself professionally. One skill I’ve always been a bit jealous of is excellent public speaking.

I went to my first HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership) conference as an ambassador my sophomore year of high school. They brought in amazing motivational speakers (awesome guys like Leon Quan) that not had the room laughing and then minutes later we would all have tears running down our faces.  I loved the way they told stories, and drew you in to build that trust in such a short amount of time. I also loved the core messages they shared at conference like HOBY. They had substance and meaning. These speakers made you feel like you could conquer the world. You took their message and somehow could apply it to your own life.

I’ve had opportunities to present and speak publicly off and on since that HOBY weekend. However, it wasn’t until last year that I decided I wanted to work on it more formally. I set some goals for myself in terms of setting up opportunities to speak publicly. I spoke at an event I organised in front of about 80 people and last month spoke at fastBREAK in front of 50+ smart people in one room (see the video from that talk). It was a step outside my comfort zone. I felt the fear and did it anyway. That can be really rewarding. It felt like a move in the right direction, but now I’m hungry for more.

I want this year to be a year that I focus on my public speaking skills. I’m going to look for more opportunities to speak. Honestly, I just need to practice more. I am also going to research joining a local Toastmasters chapter.  My last boss, and mentor Lewis always spoke very highly of Toastmasters and said it really made an impact on his public speaking skills. If you have any experiences with joining a chapter in Sydney, I’d really like to hear from you.

If you have any upcoming events that you need a speaker for, please let me know. I’m happy to come along and practice. I promise I’m not that awful, and you can help me get even better friends.

Have you taken steps have you taken to improve your own public speaking? Any advice to offer? 

Food that I miss in Australia

Dinner at Melt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland

When it comes to food, there isn’t as much I miss from home these days. I’ve grown to really love the food in Australia, and Sydney in-particular has to offer. I’ve found new brands that are similar to what I was familiar with back home or I’m happy to just swap what the states had to offer with the best of what this city has. However, there are still a few items that make my list of “missed foods” while abroad.

Mexican Food – Sydney has a great variety of food but they do fall short in this particular category. At home we go for Mexican at least once a week. It’s a cheap and good option. I think the part I dislike the most is how expensive it can be here, and no free chips and salsa – such a bummer. I miss those giant cheap margaritas that come in every flavour too.

Flautas from Luchitas

Chicken Wings – A huge bucket of chicken wings from Quaker Steak & Lube sounds awesome right now. You can go to chicken shops here and get whole, half or quarter chickens severed with salads or chips, but it’s not quite the same as hot wings.

Pumpkin sweets – I have found that pumpkin is typically a savoury food item in Australia. Pumpkin salads and sides are popular. I eat a lot of pizza with pumpkin topping. However the pumpkin I miss is sweet. I love pumpkin cookies, pie, ice cream and pumpkin roll. Drool.

homemade pumpkin roll

Pulled pork sandwiches, sloppy joes and other BBQ treats – Aussie BBQ are all about the sausage sizzlers but I miss foods from picnics at home. I love BBQ chicken on the grill during the summertime. Sloppy joes on burger buns were always a staple in our mealtimes at home as well.

Bagels and flavoured cream cheeses – I couldn’t even tell you where to get a good bagel in this city. There was a chain called “Bagel House” that did some different varieties and sandwiches but last I heard they went out of business. The grocery store sometimes carries plain and blueberry, but not guaranteed. I don’t think you can buy flavoured cream cheeses such as strawberry and honey. They have original and chives I think.

blueberry with strawberry cream cheese

Chocolate and peanut butter – How is chocolate and peanut butter not a worldwide sensation? I love it. You can buy overpriced Reese’s peanut butter cups here, but in general peanut butter with chocolate is uncommon. I hear that Zumbo has a chocolate peanut butter & jelly macaroon, maybe I should try that.

What foods do you miss from home when you’re away? 

The 30 Day Blogging Challenge

My Blogging Plans

After much slacking, I have a new 30 Day Challenge to motivate me this month.

I’m going to be blogging every day in March. A previous challenge of mine was “writing every day for 30 days.” While this was a rewarding challenge, I found that I didn’t record or measure it properly. I blogged, wrote in my journal mostly and also wrote some posts for friend’s blogs. This time around I’ll only be blogging. I have created a content calendar for the next 30 days with designated topics. While some of the posts will still appear on blogs other than mine, this time I’ll be pre-planning which posts and where they will be shared.

Steve Hopkins, who blogs at The Squiggly Line, helped inspire this particular 30 Day Challenge. He is also blogging for 30 days and asked others to do the same. Follow the chatter on Twitter #b03 and remember, it’s not too late to join. If you are planning on blogging this month, leave me a comment or tweet me so I can follow your blog posts too.

Will you be joining the 30 day blogging challenge?

Never Eat Alone: 4 Networking Tips

cc license, marcia.furman

I’m always telling people about how Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi is my favourite business book. It made me cry (not sure if that’s a normal reaction). It was a gift from my best friend senior year of college. Ferrazzi put into words exactly what I had on my mind, but didn’t know how to say at the time. He validated the way I feel about networking and relationships.

Here are a few beautiful lessons I’ve learned from that book, and just from living. I hope they’re insightful or relatable for you.

Give to others without expecting something in return. Give your time and talent. Help connect people, teach someone, give someone a recommendation or advice. Don’t ask, “What will this action deliver me in return?” as a condition of choosing to help someone. Give selflessly, and your life will be richer. I swear by this tip.

Never attend a “networking” event. Every event is a networking event. In fact, life is one big networking event. I love Ferrazzi’s approach to networking as a lifestyle and I’ve tried to adopt this same attitude.

Understand and ‘see’ relationships. I refer to this as my “online stalking tip.” The internet has A LOT of information (if you haven’t figured that out by now) so use it to your advantage. Understand how people are connected. Research what they do, learn their story and see who their friends are. Be driven by relationships before and after meeting new people.

Be genuine and interested. Gosh this one is important. If you are hitting on tips 1-3 and mucking up this one you could get in trouble. I would give you the advice of ‘fake it till you make it,’ but I’m not sure if that applies here. Please be genuine in all that you do. It will help your relationships thrive.

Have you read Never Eat Alone? What advice would you add to this list?