Travels through Asia

Miu's Coffee House, Hanoi, Old Quarter
Miu’s Coffee House. Hanoi, Vietnam

At the start of 2017 I said that I wanted to travel to Asia and Asia-Pacific that year. From May I got to work in reporting and public information for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (or, more simply, OCHA) in South Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh).

At the beginning of December and following these busy assignments I decided to make my way around India, Australia and Thailand for the first time visiting Kolkata, Sydney and Bangkok. Three weeks later I was back in London spending a lovely Christmas break with my 84-year-old Mum, my brother and his family.

Sydney breakfast
Sydney breakfast
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No prizes for guessing where this is
Bangkok night market 1
Bangkok night market
Bangkok boat
Bangkok

Then I hit the road again in the first week of 2018, taking in Phu Quoc, Ho Chi Min and Hanoi in Vietnam; Colombo and Galle in Sri Lanka; and Bali, Indonesia where I am now. It’s actually cheaper to be here than expensive London, whilst waiting for my next assignment, plus I get to miss all that city’s tiresome cold winter.

Acoustics bar, Hanoi, Old Quarter
Getting ready to perform at The Acoustics Bar. Hanoi, Vietnam

I like the song that blasts out from the Vietjet flight on landing in Vietnam (the link below will take you to the YouTube video).

 

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Fishermen. Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle, Sri Lanka snake
Rather him than me. Galle, Sri Lanka

 

A funeral procession in Zadar, Indonesia
A funeral procession in Sanur, Indonesia

 

 

Breakfast in Kuta - tender buttermilk chicken, spinach and poached egg
Breakfast in Kuta, Indonesia – tender buttermilk chicken, spinach and poached egg

 

Work and Live Abroad – last word

A side note

You are going to have to exercise much courage and determination to jump over the appalling discrimination (especially sexism) and downright abuse that goes on in some companies and organisations, both at home and abroad.

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Don’t let that stop you.

Ultimately, if harassment and bullying are endemic within an organisation or even industry, and there is just too much resistance to changing things (from both men and women), ask yourself whether it’s worth spending a professional lifetime banging your head against an intractable iron wall. You may decide that on principle it is, and fine, walls can come tumbling down eventually.

But okay too if you decide to move on to better things, for your own professional and personal well-being and integrity. As I previously said, there are always other options.

Additional resources for working abroad

Books

How to Travel Full-Time – Colin Wright

Rough Guides First Time Around the World

The Globetrotters Guide – Amanda Statham

GenXPat, The Young Professional’s Guide to Making a Successful Life Abroad –  Margaret Malewski

Preparing for Your Move Abroad – Rona Hart

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job, Kill it in Your Career, Rock Social Media – Aliza Licht

Make It Happen: How to get Ahead and be Happy at Work – Dena Michelli

The $100 Start Up – Chris Guillebeau

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

 

Blogs and websites

Fast Company’s Digital Nomad’s Guide to Working from Anywhere

Travelling the World Solo – travellingtheworldsolo.com

Nomad List – nomadlist.com

Travel Noire – travelnoire.com

How to Become a Digital Nomad – webworktravel.com

Start With Your Why – Simon Sinek’s TED talk on getting to the heart of your motivation(s)

 

Work and Live Abroad – part 2

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Finding those pesky international jobs

Here are some ideas.

General international jobs

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s job board includes a nicely designed layout, good keyword search tool and a wide variety of advertised jobs. Also being able to message directly through InMail makes the process a bit more personable. I’ve sometimes found that jobs can be out of date, and be aware of the scams, but useful on the whole.

Escape the City

Sends out a mailing list of both paid and volunteer roles. I’ve had an interview through this and seen some interesting roles, so worth a shot.

Jobbatical

These companies and organisations will usually sort out your visa and flights once they’ve offered you a contract.

Remoteok.ie and Problogger

For those of you who are looking for jobs they can do remotely, although they seem to be targeted at US professionals. Still worth a look.

Fiverr

Fiverr has great blog community resources and engagement, and I find this a user-friendly remote work portal, especially for creatives.

Workaway

Pay a (tiny) annual fee and find free lodging – even sometimes a room of your own – anywhere in the world in exchange for your skills.

A word on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

Be careful with this one. I’ve attended a course at a fairly reputable TEFL school in London and even there, students were caught out in at least one scam job advert. Schools ask for passport details in their adverts – a standard practice in the industry and, in my opinion, a bad one. It’s a way for schools to test early on the validity of the jobseeker. But how many passports have been scammed this way?

In addition, any requests for PayPal payments from recruiters are a huge red flag.  So, take the course and apply for TEFL jobs, but do your own very careful due diligence, as one should with any international job.

International development jobs

UN Volunteers (UNV)

There are two options: online volunteers who find remote work to which they can lend their time and skills not only to UN agencies, but to a wide range of local and community NGOs and charities.

Then there are the field UN Volunteers: after registering your profile you may be approached by the UNV office in Bonn for relevant field assignments to serve with a UN office (following a written test or/and interview). Two years worth of work experience are required for the field volunteers, who are not paid a salary, but rather a decent enough living expense. Note that you can’t do any other paid work alongside the volunteer role, including freelancing.

Both online and field UNV opportunities are valuable volunteering experiences in themselves, and worth considering to determine whether a UN career is really what you want. Also, guard against turning into a serial UN volunteer, unless that’s what you want.

Internships

Along with volunteering, this is a valid foot in the door option for the United Nations or any organisation/company. If you can find a reasonably paid internship even better. But I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing these stints for much longer than a year at the start of your career – three months if it is unpaid. For a start, you are trying to build your cash reserves to travel, as well as your professional experience. And these kinds of work can turn into a kind of exploitation. So, enjoy these experiences for a while, and know when to move on.

The following joblists are useful resources:

Reliefweb

Charityjobs              –             UK-based jobs but also has some international

UNJobs                      –             lists UN and other international organisations

Eurobrussels           –             mainly for Brussels based or EU oriented jobs

Gorkana                    –             for PR and journalism jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work and Live Abroad – part 1

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People have sometimes asked me for pointers about finding an international job and creating a global lifestyle. So, I thought I’d draw some up here. I’ll be drawing on much of my own globetrotting experiences as well as forwarding advice I’ve been given. Most of this is related to the field of international development, but not exclusively.

You may be making a career change after years, or even decades, of working more traditional office-based careers. More likely you’re a graduate, or fresh out of school, at the very beginning of your professional journey.

There are potential freelancers and location independent professionals who will carry out their assignments, or even their own businesses remotely, and will be savvy in making digital tools work for themselves and their clients.

But there are also would-be internationally and independent-minded professionals who will serve out temporary or long term staff contracts for global companies and organisations outside their home countries. You just want some preliminary guidance as to where to find those jobs.

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Decisions, decisions

So you’ve made the exciting decision to spend the next few months, or even some years, working and circumventing the globe. But that, of course, is just the start. It’s important to nail down what it is you want to do and, preferably, where. I say preferably because unless you have a powerful desire to go to a particularly continent or country – at least at first – it may be a good idea to keep your options open.

What I’m saying is that if working abroad (rather than simply travelling) is your priority, you may have to go where the work is in the initial stages, to gain experience and contacts.

Determining from the earliest why you want to travel abroad will point towards the most suitable strategies and tactics.

So, for example, perhaps like me you have an altruistic personality but you are also globally minded. Working with international organisations, NGOs and charities seem the most obvious choice. But there are others. You may want to lend your business, tech and/or creative skills to a social enterprise or interesting start-up that’s doing great international community work.  There are opportunities to do this and make a decent living.

Working in the field of international development or charities when you have a strong interest in communities and social affairs are not the only options, and may not even be the best for you.

But perhaps you are absolutely and resolutely determined to work only for the United Nations, another specific international organisation. In which case I would say go for it, but be careful to know when things aren’t panning out, and when you need to change course. You don’t want to spend years chasing a failing dream that saps away your time and energy. There are always other options.

The first thing is to decide why you want to go and what you want to do, and where. And how much money you are going to need, as well as educating yourself about administrative matters, such as visas and medical insurance.

Start from where you are

Don’t wait until you’ve found the right job abroad, or saved up enough money to go. Once you pretty much know what sort of work you want to do, you can start to acquire and/or consolidate the right skills and experience in your home country.

After my master’s degree in Journalism Studies, I landed a job with the BBC. But it wasn’t in journalism. It was with the commercial rights division. But that was okay, actually, because it gave me some insight into the legal and business side of programme-making and I enjoyed working there. At the same time, I continued to brush up on my French language skills.

Following this, I spent a couple of years doing temporary administrative jobs in London, my home city. A bit of a far cry from my journalism studies but this brief stint did a number of things: I got contracts working for a wide range of organisations and companies that included the BBC, FT and Alcatel. This meant that I could quickly get some sort of knowledge of how they worked and where I might want to concentrate my own longer term career sights. And I was earning money. It also helped me to become more IT-savvy.

This all fed into my first professional global adventure: working in Brussels. A friend noticed my strong interest in current affairs and suggested I consider taking a look at EU affairs.

I’m not really the sort of person who can just get up and go. I have to make a plan, even of sorts. For me, this involved taking a trip to Brussels, signing up with some temporary agencies, coming back, then returning to Brussels for four interviews in one day. I got one of the jobs: assisting three lawyers who were all working on world trade issues at the law firm Lovells. Months later I had landed another there: as a freelance junior journalist and editor at an EU news agency. A year later, I made the switch from journalism to communications, working with a Brussels-based professional association.

My point is, the experience and skills you are building and consolidating now in your home city aren’t a waste of time. They’re preparing you for your globetrotting adventure.

More work hubs in London – part three

 

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Start Up Croydon

 

Last week I visited three locations, two in the suburbs just outside the City/Central London. The first was another happy stumble-upon – actually, I usually glance aside at it while jogging past. Start Up Croydon is a co-working and business centre near Wandle Park and next to the tram station.

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Aesthetically it’s airy, pleasantly modern and a good working space for the freelancer/business owner. It offers services a freelancer would expect such as broadband, meeting rooms and kitchen facilities. It also hosts business seminars and breakfast mornings. The hub compares favourably with others I’ve seen, and I hope it does well, as it’s a welcome service to the area. Start Up Croydon opens right through to Saturday.

Start Up Croydon is in the Weatherill House Business Centre, New South Quarter, 23 Whitestone Way, Croydon CR0 4WF

For more information visit their website here

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I’ve written about the British Library in previous posts, but down the road is the lesser known St Pancras library, for those looking for a place to work around Kings Cross. Near the Google building in St Pancras Square, its colourful seats and wide tables make it a good spot, and there’s also a café on the ground floor. For a break and change of scene, or after work relaxation, there are bars and restaurants to hand, including Notes which serves craft coffees and beers.

 

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Interchange Triangle in Camden

 

Finally – there are the Interchange Atrium and Interchange Triangle co-working spaces in Camden Town, part of the Nomad workspace group. Please don’t be deceived by the photos: Interchange Atrium is a lot bigger than you think and, in my opinion, more impressive, while you can work with a view over London at Interchange Triangle, its sister building down the road. This is an en-pointe work hub in the middle of seriously cool, bustling trendy modern markets (the Atrium is in the Stable Yard market, the Triangle in Camden Lock market).

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Step outside and lunch is immediately served: wafts of garlic and seasonal mixed cinnamon spices in wine; brightly coloured curries and tacos swirled about in huge woks and cauldrons; crafted jewellery and clothes – these are just some of the scents and sights, made complete by the waterway running through Camden Lock. And that’s not to mention the myriad of eateries and things to do in Camden Town itself.

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camden-lock

Check out these and other work spaces offered through Nomad here

Communication professionals in London

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I went to two events this week that were worth the time. The first, on Weds 30th November, was for independent consultants and hosted in Bermondsey by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

Two speakers brought different perspectives on the evening’s theme ‘The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes.’ Author Michael Townsend Williams urged us to pay more attention to our breathing especially in the midst of trying daily work situations. He should know something about stress having worked in advertising at Saatchi’s.

The second speaker, Ruth Butah, emphasised the importance of attitude, focus and determination to reach goals, and shared from her own life about juggling children and home with work duties.

It was good meeting some of the other PRCA members. Savvy and highly experienced communication professionals, it reminded me just how important it is to somehow keep embedded within these peer and mentoring relationships, both for learning and for encouragement. A couple of conversations have already clarified some career-related decisions. Thanks, Hasnath, for arranging this evening at such a great venue (Lexis PR, 75 Bermondsey Street, London).

Click here for more info about PRCA

Business Lives: Marko Mišulić

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© Rentlio

From time to time I’ll be running interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs and up-and-coming business leaders from around the world. Marko Mišulić (pictured) is the founder of Rentlio, an online property management platform aimed at rental owners. He lives and works in Zadar, Croatia.

Please introduce yourself and your business

I am the founder and CEO of Rentlio. I am 30 years old and I was born and raised in Zadar. I studied at the faculty of economics and business in Zagreb. I got my first job in the finance industry whilst being in the second year of faculty.

Rentlio was founded in 2014 in Zadar after I worked almost eight years in asset management industry, where I was a head of a team responsible for development of complex portfolio optimization models.

In April 2014 I quit my job as I didn’t enjoy it any more. I completely focused on Rentlio and prepared the stage for global exposure after successful launch of the product on the Croatian market in March 2015. Rentlio is a software service product that automates vacation rental management. Our typical users are small hotels, self-serviced apartments, hostels and other similar properties.

Explain the concept of Rentlio

I like to call Rentlio the ‘autopilot for vacation rentals’. Rentlio is property management and central reservation system that helps you manage bookings you receive over online channels you advertise your rental on.

When you receive a booking from, for example, Booking.com it automatically shows up in Rentlio and adjusts the availability on Expedia, AirBnB and other connected online travel agencies.

Besides that, Rentlio is a guest relationship management tool that helps you remember details about your guests so you can make their stay more personal in your property while giving you opportunity to boost your direct sales. Many vacation rental owners still rely on pen & paper management of their properties so we can call Rentlio a pen & paper killer as well. By automating all the boring and administrative things you need to do while managing your vacation rental we save a lot of time for our users.

What are the opportunities and challenges of starting a business in Zadar?

Well, I would say the challenges of starting business in Zadar are the same as the challenges of starting business in any other place in Croatia. I would even say that starting a business is not such a painful process, compared to the bureaucracy and administration you will face after you start to operate. You need to think about too many papers and rules which takes away precious focus and energy in running your business.

I see many opportunities in Zadar primarily connected with its unbelievable location. In less than two and a half hours you are in Zagreb, whilst in less than an hour and a half hour you are in Split. It is October, the sun is shining above 20 Celsius, and I am working while sitting on a terrace overlooking the sea. For me, this is most inspiring workspace you can imagine.

Being small and big enough both at the same time, I think Zadar can be attractive for many independent professionals and companies, especially in the IT industry. So, further development of IT companies is a main challenge. More companies working on advanced technologies for clients all over the world will be the reason to stay and move to Zadar.

In your opinion how can government contribute to the success of small business in Croatia?

Government should contribute to the success of small business in Croatia by making administration smaller and much more effective, by lowering the tax burden that is among the highest in Europe, and by giving you the opportunity to stay focused on your business not on the paperwork.

What would be your advice to young entrepreneurs in general and especially in Croatia?

I am sure this is something said a trillion times, but saying it again can’t hurt: enjoy what you are doing but love the problem, not the solution. For Croatian young entrepreneurs additional advice would be: don’t let overall negativism bother your vision. Don’t be afraid.

Good advice. And your thoughts about the COIN co-working space?

COIN co-working space is an example of good practice in Zadar. By giving young entrepreneurs a place to gather, network and help each other, COIN is promoting an entrepreneurial mindset while connecting local people with people from all around the world.

For more information about Rentlio please visit:

https://rentl.io/en