Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Working Internationally

One of the most exciting things which has happened to us as a business this past year is that we have the good fortune to be working with a very exciting new international secondary school (Hsinchu International School) located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. This has been a very rewarding experience which has resulted in the decision that one member of our team (Rick Pierce) will be spending the current semester (Feb – June, 2008) full-time in Hsinchu.

Working/consulting internationally has taught us a great deal about ourselves, our business, but most of all about the numerous challenges which must be faced when working overseas. The items listed below represent a few of the most significant issues which we have face and which most companies/individuals working overseas will face at one time or another:

Culture – Perhaps the most challenging issues which need to be faced are those involving cultural differences which exist in the country you find yourself working in.

Language - Among the most obvious challenges are those related to language. While it may not be necessary to become fluent in the native language, it is a definite advance, and a sign of true respect to at least become familiar with the basic greetings.

Customs – Of equal importance to building positive relationship with your overseas clients/customers is learning common social gestures and basic expectations. This can become extremely important when it comes time to negotiate and agree upon a working contract. (There is nothing worse than insulting someone by starting business to soon or ignoring local customs and expectations.)

Food – It is always helpful to familiarize yourself with the local foods of the country you will be visiting/living in. If you are not careful, you can either find yourself eating something which violates your own personal or religious customs, or you can find yourself insulting your host/hostess by your reaction to the food being served. In addition, if you are not careful about what you eat or drink, you can very quickly find yourself not feeling well, or in some cases violently ill.

Travel – Another critical area to consider is travel time and conditions. If is important that you schedule your travel so as to leave yourself enough time to recover from the “jet lag” before having to function at a high level of proficiency. Naturally, this will differ from person to person, but at a minimum you want to insure yourself a good nights sleep if at all possible.

Health – A third critical area of concern is health care.

Insurance - It is always a good idea to check with your insurance company to make sure you are covered in case of accident and/or illness while traveling.

Medications – It is also important to make sure you have an adequate supply of both prescription and over the counter medications to see you through your entire trip.

Records – As is true whenever you travel, it is important that you keep any important information regarding allergies or other medical conditions easily accessible with your other important documents.

From our experience, working internationally can be an extremely exciting and rewarding experience. Like all good things, however, your experience will be enhanced if you slow down, learn about the culture you will working in, make sure you have all your documents in order, plan ahead, and do everything you can to find some time to enjoy the uniqueness of the any country you have the opportunity to visit.

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