Okay, so I teased at a life update a few weeks ago and then life got crazy. Now here we are, much later than I promised, but here it is: I'm sticking around in Prague for the long-term. I can't tell you how much relief I feel in finally being able to say that definitively. I have a signed contract with a study abroad company and an appointment with the embassy to get an employment visa later this month. I've traded in my sneakers for oxfords and changed my professional title from "intern" to "program manager." Thrilled doesn't even begin to cover it.
So now I have moved from the dorm into a flat in a new neighborhood, steps from both the river and Vyšehrad, my favorite place on this planet (flat tour is coming soon, so get ready!) and am a full-fledged, gainfully employed, bill-paying grown up. I start a job a week from tomorrow with a company that changes the lives of college students. And you know what, it's been worth every. single. rejection. I applied for so many jobs that I thought were it and every "no" led me to the place I have landed and I couldn't be more grateful for each step of this crazy journey to the big j-o-b. If you're looking at starting an international job search, read these tips before you go nuts on LinkedIn. I will never claim to be an expert, but here's what I learned from trial and error and advice from countless friends and colleagues so you don't have to.
Do your research
I've had to change the way I think about job hunting. When you expand your search to include foreign countries, layers are added that domestic job seekers simply don't have to think about. What kind of visa do I need to work there? Does the company provide papers and visa assistance? Will I be taxed both here and in America? Are they even a real company (you'd be shocked at how many times this was an issue)? Because you're in a foreign place and your visa will likely be tied to your employment, it's crucial to get it right the first go-round and finding out you're stuck at a scam conference company for the next year would definitely be a bummer. Put in the work on the front end so you don't regret your choices later.
Find your "why"
I'd been looking for jobs since October and didn't officially accept a position until mid-March. While five months doesn't sound like a long time, when you're in the middle of it and the visa-expiration clock is ticking, it can feel like forever. Getting interview after interview and rejection after painful rejection made me question why I wanted to be here in the first place. What if I wasn't cut out for life in Prague? Then I realized my why as I was being guided toward the job I accepted. I had tried to pigeonhole myself into a marketing role when in reality my true passion here has become working with college students and helping them to find joy in this beautiful city as much as I have. Don't get me wrong,
marketing and communication can still be a part of my new role and I'll love it, but in Prague, my heart is with these brave students who choose to leave home and experience a new world. They drive my "why."
Use your network
I ended up finding this job through a dear friend. She had interviewed with them when she first moved to Prague and had nothing but wonderful things to say about the organization, director and their reputation. If it hadn't been for Jenny, I wouldn't have found the job that I do. It's okay to let people know you're looking-- and to remind them every once in a while. I went as far as to leave a copy of my resume with a few people, just in case they knew of someone who was looking to hire. I had a friend in HR help me fine-tune my resume and cover letter. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, as potential employers will perceive you as confident, polished and assertive.
Be prepared to walk away
There is no perfect job, but there are situations you should 150% walk away from with total confidence. I found that there were several companies who were trying to egregiously lowball me on salary, had ethically sketchy histories or weren't actually real companies. I realized that I wanted a fulfilling career and a stable lifestyle more than I wanted to stay in Prague. As much as saying no to some of these offers was terrifying (what if a better offer didn't come and I had to move home?), I knew in my gut that these jobs wouldn't set me up for a happy life here. Once you understand your why, don't settle for a job that won't get you there, however hard that might be. Remember: it only takes one yes and it will be worth all the times you chose to say no.
Believe in yourself
You've done your research. You've found your "why." You are putting yourself out there. Now is the time that you really need to have confidence. If you don't believe in your qualifications, education, or adaptability, who will? Do things during your job search that make you feel confident, whether that's going for frequent runs, doing practice interviews, hanging out with friends who build you up, or just putting on your favorite shade of lipstick. Just make sure you're investing time and energy into being the best possible version of yourself. Know that you're capable, qualified and tenacious and the right job will come your way.
What are your job search tips? How did you find your why? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!