How to Get Connected When You Move to a New City as an Expat

Int Women Career Event Panelists

When excitement of the international move quickly wears off you and start experiencing the expat blues, follow this advice from other expat women who have been there.

By Rin Gomura-Elkan (Marketing Manager, Social Code)

Have you moved to the U.S. for your significant other? Your new life abroad could be a chance to reach new heights in your career.

We all know the tech industry is attracting amazing talent from all over the world to Silicon Valley. Many of these workers make the move with their partners, often women who left behind a budding career in their home country to support their spouse.

I’m one of these women. The excitement of the international move quickly wears off, and many of us start experiencing the expat blues. I found support and new friendships through the Meetup group, San Francisco Young International Women. After being a part of the group for 18 months, I was asked by the group’s founder and my good friend, Elina, to moderate a panel discussion about career transition for international women.

SF Int Women Collage 12.24.12 pm

The panelists were five successful expat women, including a Harvard alumnus originally from Finland, an international journalist juggling motherhood and an Oxford graduate who now runs a yoga business.

The sold-out event was full of insights I wish I’d known as a new Bay Area transplant, so I’d like to share some great advice from our amazing panel with you.

1. Volunteer in Your Field

It’s important to seek volunteer work related to your profession and industry. This gives you U.S. experience and new contacts in your field of work. Not-for-profits rely on volunteers who also have paid day jobs, so they will really appreciate your help.

If you don’t have authorization to work in the U.S., volunteering is a great way to stay relevant in your industry.

2. Learn New Skills

Perhaps you want to study business level English, or enter the tech industry by learning to code. This forced career break is the perfect opportunity to take a course and upskill.

3. Find a Mentor

An experienced mentor helps you make good career decisions ensuring you’re on the right track to achieve your career goals. Try getting back in contact with your favorite manager from back home or a university professor or tutor you admired.

4. Get Comfortable with Networking

Career networking can be intimidating, especially to those of us who come from a very different culture. Just remember, most people genuinely want to help you. So get some business cards made and tell everyone what type of opportunities you’re looking for. You just never know who is connected to who.

5. Find Your True Passion

Two of our panelists discovered their true passion was helping others live healthy and happy lives, and now run successful businesses doing just that. Take advantage of this time to try new things, and find something you really love doing.

Hearing the panelists share their experiences was invaluable in my own journey as an international woman in San Francisco. It was also comforting to be in a room full of women going through similar ups and downs as an expat wife.

The same question came up many times; that is, will there be more events? The answer is yes, so please join the San Francisco Young International Women group to stay in the loop.

What were the best resources you found when you moved to a new city or county?

Rin Gomura-Elkan

About the guest blogger: Rin Gomura-Elkan is an Aussie living in San Francisco. She writes about her passion for all things handmade on her blog, Sew in Love, and is the author of “How to Sew Japanese Sewing Patterns.” Rin pursues her other passion, health, as the Marketing Manager for the health tech start-up, Social Code.