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Technology, International, French language, where does it all fit together?

I have only ever worked in the IT field since I was in High school. I am getting an international degree with a focus in MIS Global IT leadership and Management. I learned intermediate level French in France and Canada. I can finish my degree in December; or I can postpone it a semester and go back to France to learn more French. I am still feeling lost on where I can go from here. the world is in a chaotic state right now and I could just spend the next few years abroad doing my own thing; learning a new language. or I could take advantage and try to set myself up for the future. but I'm not sure where I want to work, or what specifically I want to do. I want to do something abroad; I love interacting with new people, new cultures, and learning new things. Are there any industries/countries that are starting to surface that you're seeing; that would be worth taking a look into?
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8 answers

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Matias’s Answer

Hi Blake, I'm Matias, I'm from Argentina and I lived in France for 4 years, I'm software engineer (now eng. manager). Said that... I moved to Paris in 2012 only knowing 2 words: "merci" and "baguette", and after 6 months traveling I got a job in Toulouse, in an American company (Intel). They promised the day to day basis was in english and during my first day I realized it wasn't true, so I said...challenge accepted! And I agreed with my boss to answer in english during my interventions and I promised I would make a tech presentation IN FRENCH after 3 months. Well, it was challenging, I started studying in an academy, spending my whole day hearing french and the support of my team helped A LOT. So, after 3 months I did it, I presented some changes in our build pipeline entirely in French, keeping the tech vocabulary in english (with French pronunciation, that was fun).

So, my advise is... go to France and learn French, it's a wonderful language, but the pronunciation can be tough and I consider that to speak correctly you need to live there at least 1 year. Most of the tech jobs are in english, so you can integrate easily.

Paris is one of the biggest startup ecosystems, and there are big companies too. I would recommend a smaller city (Paris is crowded and cloudy/rainy), I lived for 4 years in Toulouse, it's awesome! The studied french in , it helped me to create a community.

Merci beaucoup pour le réponse! J'ai étudié à Besancon! c'est dans la Franche-Comté. I am definitely leaning towards going back to Besancon and studying at the CLA for 5-6 more months and passing out my resume to tech companies. but there are very few in Besancon; so I will travel around the Franche-Comté to pass it out. I have a similar story about my first time going to France! I only knew "bonjour", and "merci". several hard weeks(I'm sure you can relate!) later I was able to get around significantly more comfortably. I would like to connect with you on linkedin. If you're still in France; maybe we can meet up for some café et une baguette? would love to hear more about your story. Blake M.
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Eric’s Answer

When I was in college I had a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what I should do with my life. I didn't know what I wanted to at all. It was especially hard as I got closer to graduation because everyone in my life would ask about my plan for the future. I had know idea. And what was worse, all the questions made me wonder if there was something wrong with me or if I had missed something important. I thought maybe everyone else knew what to do next and I was the only one who had no idea.

Many, many people don't know what they really want to do. That feeling was true for me for a long time. It turns out, most choices in life, you can change your mind if you don't like how it turns out. It can be really liberating to give yourself permission to try something, to learn from it and see how it goes instead of trying to plan for every turn in the road.

The other thing to share... I took two different breaks in my college education to travel abroad. It happens that I was able to work doing some graphics and animation before I graduated. That work and the intangible things I learned from life outside the US was incredibly enriching for my whole life since.

It sounds like you are a motivated learner. That instinct will serve you very well in a career in technology.

Eric recommends the following next steps:

Research opportunities in technology internships abroad.
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Frank’s Answer

Blake you're already in a great position by focusing on IT/MIS and your language studies and immersion already put you ahead of many IT job candidates. Great work! I followed a similar path by taking advantage of my US high school's study abroad program in Costa Rica, but it was my degree in computer science that opened doors for me to be able to work in Spain. After demonstrating that I was successful in my position as a project manager I was able to ask my company for a transfer. Having this done with a company greatly eased my visa process and without them this would have been incredibly difficult as I have observed in others who try to relocate on their own.

Try to find an international company with an office/technology presence in the country you're interested and see if they'd be open to you starting abroad, or relocating you have you demonstrate your value. This can be a win/win for you and the company as you get a chance to move to the location of your dreams while they can cross-pollinate their culture and your experience to a location that needs it. I stress going the company sponsored route because work visa requirements are real and can be daunting if you're not prepared. You can do some research on this by visiting each country's immigration website. Don't let this deter you though, it just takes time an perseverance :-)

Something else to consider is your desire to learn and experience new cultures. If you're truly passionate about this and don't mind doing work that's different from your university education you could participate in teaching english abroad programs that are especially prevalent in countries in Asia and southeast Asia. I have friends who graduated with engineering degrees that took time off to do this and felt it enhanced their lives and world outlook.

Regardless of what you choose, spending some time abroad and learning to "walk in someone else's shoes" will change your life for the better. After you graduate you always have the option to save up money and then use a tourist visa to travel abroad. This is easiest to do while you're young and have fewer financial and family responsibilities. Good luck!

Frank recommends the following next steps:

Visit the immigration website for the country you're interested in to better understand what requirements there are for you to relocate.
Find companies that you're interested in and search their job listings for positions that interest you in locations you want to move to.
Reach out to these companies with a resume and cover letter explaining what you want to do. A cover letter is essential and it will differentiate your application. You're also asking for something that's different than most job application requests so it helps to explain why this is important to you and also how it can help the company you apply to.
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Mikhail’s Answer

More and more companies are global with customers AND employees in offices throughout the world. Having a technical background while being comfortable communicating in other languages, as well as with people from different cultures, increases your value and opens up additional opportunities.

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Mitchell’s Answer

Blake, it's so exciting that you have the language skills to work in other countries. I honestly don't have any experience working abroad. But I can relate to the feeling of not being sure what you want to do. My advice is to invest in yourself and in building options for your career. If you keep building your skills, building your qualifications, and growing the circle of professionals you work with and come into contact with, opportunities that excite you will be much more likely to present themselves. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What are the options I have right now to improve my skills and grow my professional network?
  • Which option am I most excited about? And which would potentially open up the most interesting and strongest opportunities for me in the future?
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Adilson’s Answer

Hi Blake,

There are a lot of questions/topics we could discuss here, I will try to cover as many as I can. Before that, a little about me:

I was born and raised in Brazil, but spent the last 11 years in Montreal, QC. Before that, I also lived in Portugal and Australia for some time. I have been working in the IT industry for the past 19 years, in different roles and fields.

Let me start with the language component. Speaking multiple languages is an asset and has a lot of value, not only professionally but for your personal growth and it can open doors and possibilities for you. So if you want to spend time learning more languages, I would say it is a great idea.

I spent 1 year in Australia when I was out of college and it was an amazing experience and I am a big fan of living abroad... What I would suggest to you is to try to marry both things. You can try to find work abroad in the IT industry, living abroad and work in IT are obviously not self-exclusive :D

In fact, working abroad gives you a better understanding about the local culture and makes it easier to connect with locals. And I think I don't need to talk about the financials... If you have work in the foreign country, even if it is not a well-paid job, can help you pay for expenses and not go into debt.

About the career choice, it is a though one. There are a lot of different types of work you can do in IT and it is hard to figure out. The only advice/tip I can give you on this is the following: Whatever field you pick, you can always pivot in the future :D. I started as developer and about 8 years ago I pivoted to a Solution Architecture/Monitoring role and I love it. You are not expected to know a whole lot when you start, do your best picking a target and see how it goes. After some time, reassess and change field if you want.

Hope this helps.

All the best and good luck!

Adilson recommends the following next steps:

Try to find an IT job abroad in the country you're planning to spend time in
Research some IT fields (development, operation, database, network) to try to figure out what you'll try first
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John’s Answer

There are currently 29 countries that use French as the primary language. If you want to work internationally, or help emerging markets adopt technology, French fits nicely. There is also a nice startup culture in France, but it also is home to many major companies, as well. Additionally, learning a new language can only help in learning how to program. Right now, many companies are looking for talent that is located in the US due to our engineering workforce. If you want an international career, Technology is a good place to be. As someone who would not have been able to leave the country to work internationally 3 years ago, working as an Engineer has changed that outlook considerably.

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Ted’s Answer

My son attended a French immersion program from the time he was in pre-school through 8th grade and has been studying German as well for 6+ years. He is facing many of the same questions you have. Technology companies have long been global in nature but are increasingly so and understanding both the language and the culture are going to be a highly sought after set of skills. I would encourage you to spend additional time abroad and look at US companies that have a global presence and sample a number of companies if possible (maybe through internships) to find the area that your are passionate about since the technology field is so broad. Companies in all industries are moving to being truly digital (whether they are in financial services, retail, healthcare, etc.). Moving to the Cloud, AI, Security, DevOps are all very hot areas for SW.

Ted recommends the following next steps:

Identity Global companies with Internships