We previously spoke about why mechanical design engineers should seriously consider adding international experience in their resume. But how can this be achieved? It is certainly easier said than done, but we do have some ideas to get you started.
Start as early as possible through internships
While you are studying, either after a semester or during the summer, try to get an internship abroad. Don’t focus on the prestige of the company or the stipend, try to broaden your horizons and your experience. It may turn out to be an investment, it may pay for itself, but you will have secured your first international experience. It may not be too demanding technically but challenging yourself in a foreign land while developing your skills/discipline is priceless.
Go for internationally aware companies
Working for local companies can be as good or as bad as any other job. It will depend on the package on offer and the work you actually deliver. However, there is something to be said for internationally driven businesses, helping you develop on the job. It makes sense to look up big companies and business clusters and also check out businesses operated by expatriates from your country. Their strategic plans will be in the public domain together with an overview of their employee’s international mobility. Professional websites such as LinkedIn are a perfect place to start – giving you a great insight into your prospects.
Mix will and action
During the interview, make sure to point out you are internationally mobile and would love the experience. Highlight your skills of adaptation, flexibility and openness with examples. It helps greatly if you have learnt an additional language or demonstrate a willingness to do so.
Learn to learn and be good at it
There are many myths that go through engineering departments. When it comes to going abroad, the classic one is that only the lazy, turbulent and the boss’s favourite get to add to their air miles. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant for your situation. The best asset you can radiate in your early days is your ability to learn. Learning how to learn is crucial and unfortunately not emphasized enough. It is only through learning in your current office that you can be trusted and assigned to international projects. Make the most of this early stage of your career!
A broad range of skills
Finally, this is the one that doesn’t hurt but takes time and patience to develop. Never stop learning and you will go far, stop and your career will stall. Many people decide they are done learning once they settle in a job. Granted, school didn’t leave lovely memories of classrooms, assignments and whatnot, but you are developing now, your are growing. Going back to school for an additional language, to learn about new software, to code or create macros, makes a radical difference between qualified candidates. Make yourself stand out from the crowd. Give potential employers something different to think about.