Career and Family Considerations for International Assignment

Career and Family Considerations

It’s a pretty typical scenario. You are in the throes of a thriving career, when all of a sudden, your spouse or partner is offered an international assignment. You know that it’s a great opportunity for his or her career, and your friends and family reinforce this by saying that it’s a chance of a lifetime, and one that you just can’t afford to pass up.

While all of this might be true, the idea of leaving everything behind, even temporarily, can be a scary one, underscored by your personal feelings of anguish about your own career.

At the same time, if you have children, you have to think about how the move will impact them as well. So, rather than approaching this opportunity from a mere career perspective, you have to examine how it will impact your entire family. There is obviously much to consider for you to be able to make the best decision for your family.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those considerations.


Career Considerations

First of all, it’s okay to ask, “What about me and my career?” Dual-career families are extremely common today, and one career isn’t necessarily more important than the other. However, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Talent Management and the Dual-Career Couple,” dual-career couples are often faced with having to decide which career will lead and which one will follow.

If you and your spouse or partner determine that yours is the one that will follow, it’s important that you are prepared for the potential impact the international assignment could have on your career.

So, you have to ask yourself some critical questions, such as, will I be able to continue working while on assignment, or will I have to put my career on hold?  And, if I do have to put it on hold, will it be waiting for me when I return?  What challenges could I face as a result of interrupting my career?

Ultimately, you have to be confident in your decision, and know the challenges and implications before you go. That will make it that much easier for you to resume your career when you return.

And the good news is, you can still network and stay up-to-date with your profession or industry while you’re away. This is important, because staying professionally connected can go a long way in easing your repatriation and re-entry back into the workforce upon your return. Not only that, but your international experience can give you a unique, professional advantage.

It is a distinguishing factor that you should leverage and emphasize on your resumé.



Educational Considerations

The number one consideration when moving to a foreign country with children typically revolves around their education.  As such, you will want to find out what educational options are available while on assignment.

The last thing you want to do is to disrupt your children’s school curriculum without knowing how they will best reintegrate into the school system upon your return. You want to ensure that they will not fall behind.

Sometimes it is best to engage the services of an educational consultant who can advise you and answer the many questions you might have.


Making It Work

For an assignment to be successful, it’s important that you have a buy-in from the whole family.  Yes, there will be disruptions and different ways of doing things, but remember, you will be doing it all together. And, at times, it will be stressful. But, there are ways to proactively combat some of that stress. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Research before you go. This will help to manage expectations, and give you and your family specific things to look forward to in the new location. Be sure to include your children in the research.  This helps them to feel a part of the process before you even move.
  • Keep it fun. Look for family activities and sites to visit shortly after your arrival. Encourage your children to take photos and keep travel journals about their experience. Remind them that they are having an adventure.
  • Stay in touch. Technology makes it possible to stay in touch with family and friends no matter where in the world your travels might take you. Take advantage of that, and encourage your children to do the same. It can make a big difference.


We Are Listening

International assignments are a complex undertaking, and require the careful planning of all parties involved.  At VERSA, we have the experience and know-how to provide the best solutions to our corporate clients and their employees based on their unique needs.  How do we do this?  By truly listening to what they have to say.

To learn more, please contact us anytime!


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