Can you name some international careers, please?
September 11, 2014 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I am in the middle of deciding what I want to do with my life, and I need your help. It has to be something I can do in several countries or remotely (free-lance is only possible if I can still get a visa.)

My (Japanese) boyfriend will be in Geneva for the next two years at least, studying international law. He wants to stay there after he graduates, provided he can find a job, or move somewhere else, maybe London, maybe the US. He speaks Japanese (duh), English and can read French. His German is... limited.

I am a German woman who speaks German and English (duh) and Japanese. I have a high TOEFL score (level C2) and the highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I am currently in Paris studying French where I hope to reach at least level B2. I have a bachelor's degree in Japanese Studies and English Philology, but never finished my master's in Applied Linguistics. (Maybe I will do that at a later point, once I am sure it is what I want, maybe I will do a different master's.) I have experience in teaching and working with children, and also in translating and a bit of interpreting. I am not licensed for any of those and would like to avoid, if at all possible, long and costly certification programmes, i.e. more than a two-year master's programme.

My boyfriend and I are planning to move in together in Geneva next year, eventually get married etc. etc. He will probably move around the world a bit, and while I would prefer to stay in Europe because my family lives here, I think that I would like to try living in different countries as well.

The problem is: what kind of career allows me to do that? I absolutely do not just want to be a trailing spouse who is completely reliant on him. (I also don't think his income for the first years would sustain me.) I want to do my own thing and I feel like that is an important thing for me to do to keep myself and our relationship happy. (And, you know, being a feminist in 2014.)

As I am a bit undecided what I want to do anyway, I thought maybe I can just limit my choices by choosing the career that is most easily doable in different countries.
So far, I have on my mind (including potential problems):

- language teacher: I loved that when I did, but not many people want to study German anymore and companies seem hesitant to hire non-natives for other languages
(- lecturer at universities: I do not want to get a PhD, so I'm assuming this won't be an option for a long-term career?)
- teacher for special needs children: I worked with a special needs child before and found it extremely rewarding, but it must be super exhausting if you do it for decades
- translator: depends on the company who hires me, I guess - would I get a visa as a free-lancer? I have a friend who does it without a degree in translating.
- interpreter: Do they need German-Japanese interpreters in, say, the US?? Degree seems really difficult to get.
- work for Japanese company or Western company dealing with Japan: how easy is it to switch jobs when I need to move?
- embassies???

I am willing to consider other options that are along the lines of what I can do. What I can't do is anything with numbers.

So, please pick apart the above options, give me insight (or maybe a reality check) and let me know what seems workable! Thanks in advance!
posted by LoonyLovegood to Work & Money (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Given your interest in education and language, maybe an education non-profit would be interesting? You gain a lot of skills in a non profit, which can be transferable to other fields.

You might also want to look at international schools: lots of different opportunities. There are lots of international schools in Germany, if you are looking for people to talk to about options.

Find people (via LinkedIn, through facebook friends, at conferences, or through other connections) who work in any of these careers fields and talk to them: they will be able to give you a much more comprehensive view.
posted by troytroy at 6:17 AM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: So, given you're German and know Japanese, I'd first suggest to look at Nintendo. Another thought would be hospitality - hotels or airlines. You could also look into the marketing or corporate communications departments of large multinationals. This would be especially helpful if you study not only the languages but also the customs and business practices of the various countries. Finally, many large companies have a global mobility department/team that facilitates transfers of employees between locations; they hire relocation consultants, expat liaisons, and similar positions (some study of basic HR practices in the most likely countries of residency would be helpful).

If you want to go a less corporate route, you could do something related to translation for legal purposes (documents or legal proceedings) or something related to immigrants' services.

Embassies may be an idea, but it depends on whether you can get the requisite security clearance (not always the easiest to do if you have a non-citizen spouse).
posted by melissasaurus at 6:21 AM on September 11, 2014

You might also want to look at international schools: lots of different opportunities. There are lots of international schools in Germany, if you are looking for people to talk to about options.

Seconding international schools. A friend was able to get a job in Southeast Asia as a teacher, despite having vanishingly little teaching experience/
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on September 11, 2014

Response by poster: I actually taught Japanese at an international school in Berlin for a semester, and German at the Japanese International school. From that I saw there, as a temp, it's hard to gain full-time employment, and very competitive. Would a one-year master's in Applied Linguistics or something similar be enough?
I will definitely look into it more, because teaching and languages are my first and foremost passion. Thanks!

I totally looked into Nintendo (gamer girl here) and also have a friend who worked for Square Enix. Apparently, working remotely is hard and Nintendo's German office is in the middle of nowhere.
I wouldn't mind corporate work, I guess (never done it before), and I think I would be great at working with people. I took classes in business Japanese and polite language and have been told I am better at it than some Japanese people my age.

How would I go about searching for HR jobs? I'm sorry to threadsit and ask noob questions, but I have never really job-hunted before.

I would love to hear from someone who works for an embassy. I had an interview with the Japanese embassy once for the JET programme and would have been hired, I guess, if they had had any openings that year. (They advertise before they know if the job opens up.)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 6:29 AM on September 11, 2014

Nintendo's German office is in the middle of nowhere.

FYI - they just announced they're closing the Gro├čostheim office and relocating the European headquarters to the Frankfurt office (still not the most exciting city ever to live in, but tolerable).
posted by melissasaurus at 6:35 AM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: You have a lot of experience living in various countries and speaking a few languages. You have studied abroad (although if I remember right that had its ups and downs for you). How about working in some capacity to enable students to do cultural exchange? That might entail working at a university in their international mobility office, advising the German students on studying in Japan, or it might be working for a German national or European office that administers mobility programs. Sometimes there is a position at the embassy to administer national scholarships and fellowships for students to study or do research abroad. I'm thinking the DAAD here, or the UAS7. Or you might like to work with a younger population--high school or gap year exchanges.

You will eventually need to get a masters in a related field if you want to move up, but that could be linguistics, political science, history, cultural studies, etc.
posted by Liesl at 6:37 AM on September 11, 2014

Response by poster: melissasaurus, thanks!

Liesl: I had a really bad experience at a DAAD interview once, but got a scholarship for my first time in Japan (which I completed, at a pretty good university too, though it was only their language programme.) I hope they didn't keep my file... But yes, that's a great idea!

Sorry to threadsit again, but I probably should have said more about my experiences so far.

I have spent a total of three semesters in Tokyo, two for a completed Japanese course within my bachelor's degree and one last year which ended badly (see my posting history...) I will also spent a whole school year near Paris as an au-pair. And while I'm obviously not a native speaker of English, I have family in the US that I could play up a little, I guess.

The Japanese school in Berlin and my professor from Japan would also give me stellar references if I asked them.

And I just remembered, I don't know if this helps, but I might be going to Tokyo again to help interpret at the Judo World Cup next year - my older brother is a trainer. Maybe I can do some networking there.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 6:44 AM on September 11, 2014

If you're interested in freelance translation work, have a look at the ProZ forum. It might give you an idea of how much demand there is for your language pairs (English, Japanese and possibly French into German) where you're thinking of living. And you can probably find out from there whether you would need any kind of certification or accreditation for it.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:55 AM on September 11, 2014

University, higher education study abroad or international student offices? You may or may not get to travel, but you'd certainly work with lots of different people.

I'd also look into high school or work exchange programs similar to CIEE, etc.
posted by zizzle at 7:17 AM on September 11, 2014

Response by poster: Just to clarify (sorry to update again! >.<): I'm not looking for a position that lets me travel a lot, I'm looking for a career that makes it easy to work almost anywhere, either by changing companies/schools or by being able to work remotely/by myself. (Although I think I'd prefer to work with people to working from home alone.)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:42 AM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: You could get a job with the UN or NATO. Your language skills give you a leg up on that. Does Germany have an equivalent to the CIA? Another thought would be NGOs that have a presence in many countries, like Red Cross/Crescent.

Working as a teacher with special needs kids...that's going to require more schooling and in the US it's a really broken and horrible system.

You can freelance and do private translation work. They requires no visa or permissions. You're a virtual worker on the Internet. Here's a blog blurb about how one guy stumbled into it.

My suggestion is that you become proficient in a piece of software. Mine is But yours could be SAP (obviously) or Oracle or whatever seems to make sense. So if you can be a Sys Admin or an Analyst, you're golden. You can work ANYWHERE. Having other languages makes you even more hirable.

Seriously, look into it. Your path doesn't have to be mainly through your language knowledge, but having them on top of other, valuable skills makes you desirable to employers.

I got a new job last month, my phone rings daily with people wanting to know if I'm still looking.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:01 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Gah, sorry to threadsit AGAIN, but what I meant with VISA is that usually, unless I stay in the EU, I have to give a reason why I want a visa, and I believe that some countries like the US make that quite difficult if you don't have a company sponsoring you?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:20 PM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: Do a search for 'skilled occupations short list' for the countries of interest and see which occupations come up most often (knowing that these lists are somewhat moving targets). In recent years, engineering and CS occupations have topped these lists; health care jobs are usually on there too (nursing, most often; allied health, sometimes), as well as teaching jobs (but check which teachables / grades are needed - STEM subjects, most likely). Not having looked much into it, of those, I'm thinking teaching might make the most sense. Meeting licensing requirements for different countries would be an issue for a lot of those, but some countries might have transfer / recognition agreements depending on where you train, it's a possibility.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:48 PM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: Find multinational companies that have offices or big customers in Germany, Japan, UK/US, etc., and offer them your services as an editor, translator, personal assistant, dogsbody. Just being a gofer for a big shot can earn you a bit of money if you work hard and know how to get things done. For something interesting, maybe the movie business. Look for a spot in some production company.

And don't mind if your jobs take you two to two different countries. Some of the best relationships are concentrated on weekends when you can fly to him or he can fly to you.
posted by pracowity at 1:12 PM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: Amazon, Google, and Apple would be natural employers for you. They have offices everywhere, offer a lot of geographic flexibility, and hire more than programmers.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:49 PM on September 11, 2014

Best answer: I met someone once who wrote scripts for TV soap operas. She wasn't the only writer working on that soap opera - she was sent a story outline for each episode that she was meant to be writing, and she had to write the actual script to make those events happen. She could (and did!) do this from all over the world, except for the occasional trip back to the UK to make sure all her pop-culture references were up to date.
posted by ontheradio at 6:41 AM on October 8, 2014

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