Work and Live Abroad – part 2

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Finding those pesky international jobs

Here are some ideas.

General international jobs


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 I’ve sometimes found that jobs can be out of date, and be aware of the scams, but useful on the whole.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.


These companies and organisations will usually sort out your visa and flights once they’ve offered you a contract. 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 has great blog community resources and engagement, and I find this a user-friendly remote work portal, especially for creatives.


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.


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:


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.

Ciao 2016


I spent a pleasant Boxing Day at one of my favourite walking spots in London: Wimbledon Common which is like a little forest haven hidden away in the corner of South London. Weather was on the mild side, made even more agreeable by the sun peeking out on numerous occasions.

No, that’s not a squire on his country estate. It’s Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon Village is ‘quaint’: not only does it boast the Common, but there are boutique shops including Comptoir des Cotonniers, Cath Kidston, Jigsaw and Hobbs; restaurants and cafes; and smart pubs. I wasn’t alone in heading for this green space as there were quite a few families enjoying the Monday-that-felt-like-a-Sunday Boxing Day walkabout. But I didn’t mind. Here I could still disappear in private solitude and reflect on wherever my thoughts flew, including plans for the coming year. To quote William Wordsworth:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills…

Travel highlights of 2016 were Beirut, Lebanon; Amman, Jordan; and Zadar, Croatia. On my wish list for 2017 are Asia and Asia Pacific.

Delicious sea bass fish and chips @ the Radisson Blu, Beirut

Music I’ve enjoyed this year (not necessarily produced in 2016):

Love+War (album) by Kwabs – I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but who cares?

Making Time and Mirrorwriting (albums) by Jamie Woon.

The Best of Earl Klugh – laid back lounge jazz and I love it.

Feel So Close (single) by Calvin Harris

Breaking the Rules (single) by Jack Savoretti – appeals to my adventurous side.

Rodrigo: Concerto de Aranjuez by Xuefei Yang

In Christ Alone (album) by Keith and Kristyn Getty

2016 Anthem – Fighter by Christina Aguilera

I’ve been reading a few books on writing this year and these included On Writing Well by William Zinsser; and Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clarke.

Christmas, full swing, London

Christmas is getting well underway here in London.


A cosy hideaway up on the garden Christmas roof of John Lewis store in Oxford Street. Complete with warm layers of clothing and a glass of flavoursome, spicy mulled wine. Winter in London? What winter?


These guys look as though they’re enjoying themselves in Oxford Street