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How working abroad gave me professional direction back home

Posted by Jake Rowlands on 12th July 2019

From the West Midlands to the Mid-West

Today’s graduate recruitment market is stuck in a vicious circle. Graduates are struggling to wade through generic company messaging to find their way to the right job, while businesses are wasting millions chasing high numbers of graduates who leave within the first year”. – Chief science and analytics officer at CEB, Eugene Burke

Today, there is a great deal of pressure on graduates due to fierce competition with more students attending university and achieving similar qualifications. So how do we stand out?

We’ve been told all throughout our studies that holes in our CV will dampen our chances, and this was an issue for me just over a year ago. I found myself rushing into a job immediately after graduation that matched my degree, but with limited experience and no training structure. I wasn’t happy – both with my work and my own journey. I needed something different and that’s when I started looking overseas.

Why overseas? I wanted a completely fresh start in a new environment, and I wanted to do it in a way that would be unique to me. Fast forward a few months and several interviews later, I was presented with an opportunity in Chicago as a PR intern at 3Points Communications – an agency specialising in the fintech sector. For me, this was a different industry to both my degree and experience in marketing. I had also previously worked in-house, which provided the opportunity for me to utilise those former skills while learning even more. After all, as a fresh graduate, do we really have an accurate idea of what we are good at professionally?

Once I arrived, I found myself in awe of the scale of the city and sheer amount going on, a very different setting for a born and bred Black Country boy. I was in a new country with a new career prospect which I had taken on by myself, so it was up to me to make sure I capitalised. For the first time in months there was genuine excitement and anticipation about going to work and my new colleagues quickly made me feel settled and allowed me to dive in straight away.

Each day offered new experiences, not only professionally as I was introduced to PR, but experiencing new work cultures and ethics – taking learnings that could be applied back to myself and teams upon returning to the UK. I was also able to work in a new sector that my traditional job search would not have provided. These new skills combined with the experience of working and living in a new environment provided me with something the vast majority of other graduates didn’t have – a unique story.

Of course, it wasn’t all work and no play. My colleagues and fellow interns both showed me the ropes while I was in Chicago, and I was able to enjoy a wide host of activities from ice hockey, Chicago’s famous deep dish to stunning views from the Hancock Tower.

Of course, there are many ways to sample new industries and reignite passions that don’t require moving to the other side of the Atlantic. But if I had any advice to provide to other young professionals, it would be to ensure you are not be defined by your degree and keep your options open. Like me, you might just find a new role you love.

Jake Rowlands