Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

A Professional Visit To Vietnam

Q&A with Behrang: Worked in Vietnam
Share this
Print this
Behrang
Worked in Vietnam
University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
His thoughts on Boosting Your Career
Talking with other foreigners gave me insider advice on how foreign job searches are conducted.
His thoughts on The Right Attitude
Have confidence! There really is no reason to be shy with superiors or strangers.
His thoughts on Cultural Differences
In most cities in Asia, you're constantly surrounded by people, severely limiting your "me time".
His thoughts on Boosting Your Career
Network as much as you can so that when you do look for a serious job, the transition is more seamless and you know where the opportunities are.

When and where did you work abroad?

For the academic year of 2011 to 2012, I went to a university town near Hanoi, Vietnam. I was placed at the University of Technology because of my engineering background.

What made you want to work abroad?

By the time I stepped into Vietnam I was already a seasoned traveler. It was meant to be a continuation of the previous times I'd lived abroad, as well as a step towards my goal of living in the Pacific. MyWorldAbroad had taught me that international employers are more interested in whether you can function in an office abroad than they are in your GPA or technical qualifications.

How long did it take you to find a job and what job-search strategies did you use? Did you work in your field of interest?

I went through a program called The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE), which is an organization that sends engineering students abroad for paid, short-term work. Initially, about three months after my initial submission, they nominated me for a position in Poland. But because the position in Vietnam would allow for a longer term, I managed to convince them to switch me – at the risk of the position not matching my field of interest so well. (In the end, it did match quite well!)

Describe the interview and selection process.

There was no interview involved - we just had to write résumés, CVs, cover letters, and supply documentation such as proof of enrollment, a visa bio page, proof of English ability, etc. The employer (in this case, the university) puts its trust in IAESTE to choose the best candidates rather than conducting interviews. One twist is that members who "raise jobs" on their campus get higher priority than standard members. Since I convinced the dean of my Civil Engineering department to hire a mechanical engineering student from Germany, I had a big advantage!

What was the biggest surprise about your work experience abroad?

That the locals are so eager to please visiting foreigners. No matter what I requested, an official would try to help me out and supply me with the connections I required; and I had so much power over what type of work I wanted to do.

Did you participate in extra-curricular or social activities through your work abroad? If so, how did they differ from social activities in your home culture?

Yes! In this less-developed region, the clubs and activities aren't as "official" (i.e. they don’t use email notifications, meetings are held at random times, and they often meet outside due to lack of space reservation). Everything is more spontaneous.

What made your work experience abroad a success?

Understanding all the possibilities related to finding work abroad! For example, now I know I can re-teach the engineering principles I learned at the University of Illinois at plenty of colleges throughout South-East Asia with just a master's degree. Talking with other foreigners also gave me insider advice on how foreign job searches are conducted. (For example, in Switzerland they still mail paper résumés to employers. And Australia is famous for a year-long work-holiday program that hundreds of thousands of international nomads take advantage of.)

What international career skills did you develop?

Confidence! Being more willing to reach out and network, which helped out a lot, even in the US. It gives you a fresh perspective, that there really is no reason to be shy with superiors or strangers. As students we all think something "bad" is going to happen if we leave a bad impression. Working in Vietnam taught me that connections are actually quite disposable.

What was the biggest challenge in adapting to your international work environment?

In less-developed countries, by far the most difficult challenge was comfort. By comfort, I mean a sensible, clean, dedicated office space or private library room where you can devote 100% of your energy into intellectual work. Distractions like poor weather conditions or unreliable Internet access really hindered my progress, and it took a while to get over the fact that I just wouldn't be at my best.

How did you deal with the cultural divide in the workplace?

For me it was quite entertaining; I was given more flexibility than most other workers and was often invited out for VIP events. However, I didn’t like when my co-workers were messing around, gossiping loudly, or watching YouTube videos during office hours. In my frustration, I often left and worked in the library or café instead.

What was the most important thing you learned about cross-cultural communication while you were working abroad?

They’re often too shy to criticize you, or they’ll tell you they’re eager to work with you on something when they really aren't. The locals keep a friendly image, whether or not it gets in the way of getting work done! So at some point, an acquaintance might have to tell you in secret what your co-worker or boss really meant by something he said.

What did you miss most about home?

Again – having that comfortable, private space to get focused and get things done. In most cities in Asia, you are constantly surrounded by people, severely limiting your "me time" (although overall I still prefer this way of living).

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps by working abroad?

Go to cities that serve as hubs for international jobs. Don't look for opportunities in traditional, landlocked towns. Cities that have a high diversity index (70 or above) are your best bets to find connections, as well as universities that accept many international students. Dubai, Hong Kong, and Brussels are prime examples of international cities where you can learn a lot from other cultures. When you DO first go abroad through a program that you find on a bulletin board, university posting, or online, network as much as you can so that when you do look for a serious job, the transition is more seamless and you know where the opportunities are.

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

My future plan is to teach engineering at a university level in the region I am most familiar with (Southeast Asia). Of course, this is after I've racked up enough funds at a real job to go. So it will take about four or five years for this to happen.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Behrang’s Q&A shows a strong international perspective and an understanding of what it takes to survive and thrive in a challenging international workplace. He clearly understands the value and personal rewards of building international experience and has worked on outlining a future plan of action that allows him to capitalize on his skills while earning money and soaking up culture in the host country of his choice. Behrang is already able to describe the pros and cons of the international workplace well, and can compare and contrast the professional culture of his home country and his host country proficiently. He might consider doing a work or internship term outside South Asia, in a region he is less familiar with, simply to challenge himself and build even stronger adaptation skills. Practical skills in engineering are much sought-after in developing nations and he could likely land a position with an NGO in a developing nation, or a teaching position at a school in South America without much trouble.

  • Should Behrang decide to pursue engineering abroad full-time, Engineering: Sectors and Positions Abroad gives an excellent, broad introduction to some of the most popular international engineering job options.
  • The Teaching Abroad As A Licensed Teacher section is mostly geared towards teaching in an international school, but there is a lot of carry over information for applying to teach at a university abroad.
Behrang's Application Documents
See how He got started.
Behrang's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $25 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
9763
- # of # Filtered -
  • 82
82
14088
An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
1
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
2
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
3
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
4
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
5
10851
Tips From Tasmania
6
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
7
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
8
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
9
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
10
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
11
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
12
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
13
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
14
9762
American Freshman In London
15
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
16
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
17
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
18
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
19
9773
Independent In India
20
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
21
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
22
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
23
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
24
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
25
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
26
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
27
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
28
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
29
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
30
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
31
9771
Learning To Love London
32
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
33
9737
Passionate About Panama
34
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
35
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
36
9787
A Spring Semester In London
37
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
38
10192
Out And About In Paris
39
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
40
10157
Changing Course In China
41
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
42
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
43
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
44
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
45
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
46
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
47
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
48
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
49
9753
A Season In Sweden
50
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
51
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
52
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
53
9752
Giving In Guatemala
54
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
55
9748
Adventure In The Alps
56
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
57
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
58
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
59
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
60
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
61
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
62
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
63
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
64
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
65
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
66
9765
Simpatico In Florence
67
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
68
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
69
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
70
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
71
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
72
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
73
9817
A Bulgarian In England
74
9754
Building Memories In India
75
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
76
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
77
9756
Springtime In Spain
78
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
79
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
80
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
81
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
82
9763
All Job Boards
429
All NGOs
1566
Au Pair Resources
35
Awards and Grants Resources
30
Business and Finance Job Boards
67
Business Directories
21
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
64
Canadian Government Resources
26
Children and Families Abroad
21
Country Guides
57
Cross-cultural Skills
101
Engineering Job Boards
58
Engineering Resources
61
Expatriate Networking Sites
31
Foreign Students Working in the US
10
Freelancing Abroad
21
General Job Search
23
Global Education and Social Action
29
Health and Medicine Job Boards
52
Health Career Resources
40
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
32
International Development Career Resources
46
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
51
International Internship Organizations
311
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
35
International Internships With the US Government
40
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
96
International Law Job Boards
24
International Studies in the US and Canada
12
International Trade Resources
28
International Volunteer Organizations
494
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
150
Language Careers
31
Learn a Language
103
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
27
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
13
Loans for Studying Abroad
13
Low-cost Travel
29
NGO Directories
32
NGO Job Boards
41
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
132
Relocating Abroad
24
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
49
Stories From Abroad
82
Study Abroad Resources
188
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
108
Teach English Abroad Resources
61
Tools for Travelers
41
Top International Blogs
51
Travel Health and Safety
38
UN and Other IGOs
234
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
18
UN and Other IGOs Resources
17
US Government Profiles
79
US Government Resources
34
Visas and Passports
17
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
53
Women Living and Working Overseas
17
Working Vacation Resources
58