A job in computers that lets me travel a lot?
April 12, 2008 4:32 AM   Subscribe

I want a job in computers that involves a lot of travel.

I study computer engineering now (in Germany). I want to see the world and make a career out of it. I'm preparing for my career and I'm trying to figure out how I might go about getting a job where I get to travel a lot. I especially want to travel to East Asia.

What I'm doing right now is learning Chinese, in the hopes that that will make me more attractive to employers who send their workers around the world. I'm also signing up as a "guide" to the exchange students who come to my university so that I can expand my international network (plus, I enjoy it!). I don't have money to go on an exchange program myself, unfortunately.

So, this question is sort of a two-parter. 1) What kind of jobs are out there for people with my qualifications that let you travel a lot? 2) How can I make myself the best qualified for traveling jobs?

Thank you!
posted by giggleknickers to Work & Money (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: IT Consultant.

You'll have to be careful about which company you choose. The "big" consulting companies Accenture / IBM GS etc might not be the best bet, as they try and keep you close to home most of the time (internationally speaking). I would think about firms that have products or services that specialize in a particular industry or service line. You don't want to be in R&D, you want to be the on-site guy who does all the client facing work.

Then, consider this: A friend of mine works in the Energy Industry, his background is Chemical Engineering. He works on his companies equipment which runs at refineries all over the world, right out of college. He's been all over the place, and has spent time in Korea, Russia, China, Singapore, Saudi Arabia.. and probably a dozen others. They even let his wife travel with him and pay for all expenses.

So think about these things:

(1) Jobs where you need to be at the client site
(2) Those client sites are located all over the world
(3) Length of engagements. Sometimes you may be in one place for 2 weeks, other times a year. Depends on the industry/firm

Good luck.
posted by WetherMan at 5:43 AM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, the more languages you speak the more likely you'll have a job where you travel.

As for IT jobs where you travel a lot, it's a guess but I'd say if you specialise in teleconferencing installation and support you'll need to travel heaps.
posted by krisjohn at 5:45 AM on April 12, 2008

My brother in law has worked abroad for General Motors doing IT for decades. Most of that time he's lived outside the US, in South America and Europe, and has had plenty of opportunity to travel the globe for work & pleasure.
posted by pammo at 5:48 AM on April 12, 2008

Does your country's diplomatic corp have openings for IT workers? I know that the U.S. hires Foreign Service Specialists--doctors, accountants, HR people, IT people, office managers--who make a career out of working in embassies abroad. Amazing benefits, generally amazing people, + a diplomatic passport.
posted by whitewall at 5:58 AM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you work for an enterprise software company, try Pre-sales or Deployment.

Pre-sales people work with software sales to analyze client needs and come up with workable system proposals. A pre-sales person needs to understand how to analyze system domains, business workflows, understand requirements, and communicate solutions (both to the client and the deployment team).

Once the software contract is finalized, the deployment specialists are the ones who do the actual implementation. They must understand the enterprise software, how to implement it, and how to fit the system into the enterprise environment. The actual deployments may take several months or longer, depending on the software and the enterprise complexities.
posted by brandnew at 5:59 AM on April 12, 2008

Ditto software deployment. If you go to work for a consulting company that implements Oracle/PeopleSoft/SAP/whatever, you'll be sent wherever they've sold a deal, for months at a time or longer. HOWEVER- hours tend to be very long, you don't (usually) get to choose where or when you go.
posted by mkultra at 7:29 AM on April 12, 2008

FWIW, the guy I know who works as a Project Manager for IBM's Global Business Services is never, ever home. I don't want to out him personally but if you want to drop me a MeMail, I'd be happy to give you details and put you in touch if you want to toss some questions his way.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:40 AM on April 12, 2008

Maybe something like an Applications Engineer for a global company that does in-house development being distributed to its other offices and/or sold to clients. It would typically involve some testing and getting familiar with the software, traveling to shows or with sales guys to demo it to customers, and installation and training. I think sales guys and VP's travel the most, but in a lot of cases you'd get to tag along to properly show what the product can do and better answer the technical questions.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:08 AM on April 12, 2008

Best answer: Oh, and once you have marketable skills, consider freelancing where it doesn't matter where in the world you are. If it's a contract to write a piece of code, what does it matter if your in Germany, Thailand, or lying on a beach. Keep costs low, and as long as you have the ability to maintain connection, and don't have to physically be sitting in a gray cube, travel as much as you like.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2008

The thing is, giggleknickers, the money from any average IT job in Germany will carry you very far in East Asia. If you work for a few months and put some money aside, you could easily pay for a year-long romp in East Asia.
posted by limon at 9:22 AM on April 12, 2008

Software Deployment and Support for casino providers. IGT, Bally's, Aristocrat, etc. Our Casino Services people travel a lot - some like it, some don't. The work isn't overly technical, but a very technical person can be very valuable (and rewarded).

If you want East Asian, try to find openings for a position in Macau.
posted by krisak at 9:56 AM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, limon, but I don't want a year-long romp. I want to spend my career traveling.
posted by giggleknickers at 11:34 AM on April 12, 2008

Giggleknickers, I am concerned about this statement:

Thanks, limon, but I don't want a year-long romp. I want to spend my career traveling.

First of all, I said this at 22, too, and at 36 you literally cannot pay me enough money to commute to an office building - I simply will not do it. If you want my services, I work from home, and that's it. I would never have predicted that 15 years ago, but the one thing you can you rely on in life is change. Things change. Your priorities change. Your circumstances, often outside your control, change.

Second of all, assuming you're in your early 20s, your "career" is likely to last 40+ years. Can you seriously tell me what you want to be doing when you're 40, 50 or 60? I certainly can't tell you what I want to be doing at 60, except still reading.

Second of all, the idea of a career is also undergoing tremendous change. Not only are people changing jobs far more often than they used to, they are changing careers. If you walk into an IT consulting job tomorrow and follow that path through three more positions in the next 10 years, it's still not likely to be what you're doing in 15 years. You're more likely to have made a lateral move into something neither one of us can predict.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:34 PM on April 12, 2008

Response by poster: Why are you assuming I'm in my early 20's? I'm nearly 35. Of course I want to do this when I'm 40, 50, 60. The only thing that's kept me going my whole life is the hope that I can finally land myself a situation that lets me keep moving. You know how wonderful it is when you move somewhere new? And how awful it gets when you've been there a few years and it's still the same? That horribleness is not going to get any less horrible in the second half of my life.
posted by giggleknickers at 1:14 PM on April 12, 2008

I travel a lot for work. But most of the travel is a week here, a week there. If you're looking for that kind of travel, you might consider teleconferencing as mentioned above. I work with Adobe Connect, and those engagements typically take about two or three days. However, those sorts of gigs tend to take you to places that people generally don't want to go (which I suppose explains the interest in teleconferencing.)

IT training is another good way to get short-term travel. I do a LOT of that, and I get to go all over the place. Again, these tend to be no longer than a week, although they can run up to a month. If you're interested in that, you should pursue CTT certification among other things.

Finally, general consulting can be a good way to travel, although you won't necessarily go anywhere very interesting, and you might not get to see much of where you go. There are plenty of companies looking for liaisons for offshore outsourcing support, so learning Chinese or Hindi can't hurt for that. Those engagements tend to last a lot longer, a year or more. They usually go (in my experience) to people from those areas who are naturalized US citizens, though.

If you have questions about the first two, feel free to contact me through MeMail.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:18 PM on April 12, 2008

It would help if this was better defined. Does "travel a lot" mean traveling every week to multiple locations and cities? Or does "travel a lot" mean longer term international assignments?

You may want to look at outsourcing firms, you can travel quite bit to locations where the staff is located. Also, many multinational firms have opportunities to take an international rotations.

Oh, and don't be so dismissive DarlingBri. Speaking as someone who currently holds both AA Executive Platinum and United 1K, business travel can be a grind even when you are going to great cities. Most business travelers don't have that luxury. Right now I travel between 4 cities that I genuinely love. There have been times when I loved traveling for months and others when I begged to get off the road. If you're 35, then you probably have another 3 decades of work. Assuming that you'll always want an international assignment is overly optimistic.

My own experience in both consulting and international assignments indicates that everyone thinks they'll love the travel. About two thirds get ground out of it within 2-4 years.
posted by 26.2 at 5:41 PM on April 12, 2008

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