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


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 –

Nomad List –

Travel Noire –

How to Become a Digital Nomad –

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 I’ve sometimes found that jobs can be out of date, and be aware of the scams, but useful on the whole.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

Turning right on human rights – the new world order? Philip Alston at the LSE


The second event I mentioned in my previous post was at the London School of Economics (LSE) on the 1st December, and nods to International Human Rights Day on December 10th.

Fresh from a flight, Professor Philip Alston delivered his lecture on populism to a packed theatre of listeners.

Right-wing populism was the focus, not only in a Trump-led United States, but also in Turkey, Russia, France, the United Kingdom (in relation to the rise of Farage and UKIP) and other countries. Whilst not quite a doomsday scenario, he said he believes we are certainly at a watershed point in history. At this time of ‘new word disorder’ it’s time to rethink our assumptions and re-evaluate our strategies about human rights, he said. In his view the key issues are:

  1. The threat to democracy – with many of us convinced that the need for security trade-offs legitimises (for example) extreme states of emergencies, such as the present one in France. Also, there is the constant erosion of civil liberties in some countries.
  2. Inequality and exclusion – we need a renewed focus on social rights, as well as the political
  3. International rule of law and international humanitarian law are dangerously undermined and threatened – including by the US and the UK
  4. The fragility of international institutions

Yes, he did offer some pointers towards potential solutions, including his urgent appeal for a social rights agenda that would address everyone and not only the most marginalised.

(My take on that last point is that he may or not be right. But I think one should have something concrete in place before viciously tearing up the rug from under peoples’ feet).

But his (almost) final pertinent point was the need for every individual to think about what their own personal human rights role or contribution might be, however seemingly small.

Professor Alston has worked broadly for the United Nations over many years but hasn’t been afraid to criticise it either, most recently in its treatment of Haitians over the cholera outbreak – read UN Chief apologises for Haiti cholera, six years later.

Grab a coffee and listen to the full lecture here.

Find and read The Economist’s review of the report The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics by John Judis (‘They want their countries back’ page 71 Dec 3rd -9th 2016)


Niger, Communications and UNICEF

Zinder: blanket feeding
Zinder: blanket feeding for children under two in selected districts


Back in 2010 when I was working there as a communications specialist for UNICEF, Niger was facing a humanitarian crisis – a severe food crisis bordering on famine. Drought and high food prices had hugely distressed Nigeriens, especially outside the capital, Niamey: villagers such as the pastoralist pictured below (name withheld) and the two Tuareg men were seeing their livestock dying off because of the lack of food. ‘This year there was so little rain during the growing season that not only did the fields of millet not bloom, but the secondary greens used for animal fodder also failed.’*

By 10 October 2010, 263,273 children had been treated for severe acute malnutrition at nutrition rehabilitation centres. **

The World Food Programme told the BBC that 17 per cent of children (one in five) were acutely malnourished. This was well above WFP’s normal 15 per cent threshold for declaring an emergency.

Droughts followed by heavy rains that lead to floods in the Sahel region are, in fact, cyclical problems. Today, environmental challenges are exacerbated by population displacements caused by neighbouring conflicts in Mali, Nigeria and Libya.

And yet, life has to go on for the average Nigerien, even in the midst of a crisis. This includes being gainfully employed and supporting the country economically and socially, while solid sustainable solutions are sought for its current problems and longer term growth.

That search continues.

* BBC News 2010 report

** UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children 2011