|Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia|
Photo by Paul Bica
For many people, the main obstacle to getting a job abroad is not finding the right job, it's having the right job. I am going to repeat something I've repeated many times on this blog, but it's worth repeating (and not everyone reads every post): countries want immigrants who generate a net profit.
It should be self-evident, but countries really don't want to bring in people who don't add to the bottom line and so called "low value" immigrants are rejected and the immigrants in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) will be given priority. Or as I like to say, the holy trinity of expatriate jobs is medicine, engineering and IT (information technology). If you have skills in any of these areas you have a much better chance of getting a job abroad, but one of these skills is not like the others.
|Even Harar, Ethiopia will have programmers in it|
Photo by Ahron de Leeuw
So how do you get into IT? There are several routes, but I'll focus on computer programming as that's the area I know best (large scale database-driven back ends, if you're curious).
Probably the easiest route (outside of a degree) is to learn the basics of Web development along with programming. While the most popular programming languages today are probably C, C++ and Java, if you've never programmed before, you'll probably find Ruby, Python, PHP or Perl easier languages to get started with. Perhaps the easiest way to get started learning programming is to head over to Udacity and take their CS101 "Introduction to Computer Science" course. All Udacity classes are free of charge and by the time you finish that first course, you'll have a basic understanding of computer science and the Python programming language. More importantly, you'll probably have an idea of whether or not you have both the talent and the inclination to pursue a career as a programmer.
|The internet isn't just fun: it pays well|
Photo by keiyac
- Python — A great first programming language
- HTML — the language Web pages are written in
- SQL — a language used to help you store and retrieve data such as blog posts
- HTTP — how your browser talks to a Web server
- Scaling — How to let many users use your Web site without killing it
- Web security — Practical tips to avoid some of the more common Web security issues
Another route for getting answers is to ask a geek friend for help, but be warned: geeks can be very difficult at times. Many, for example, will sneer at you for learning Python (I specialize in Perl and I know some of my friends would sneer at Python), but ignore that. You have a goal and you don't want to get distracted. A better strategy would be finding a local Python User Group and signing up for their mailing list. They often meet once a month for social events or to give technical talks. Go to those events! It's a fantastic way to start networking and land that first programming job.
|Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
Photo by Digo_Souza
This doesn't get you a job overseas but it starts the process. Since you won't (presumably) have a degree in computer science, you'll need experience. Again, finding a local Python user group and meeting up with actual programmers can help. Most of my jobs have come via people telling me a job was available rather than me applying blindly for a position. Since you'll be trying to land your first job, that's probably a good strategy, but hitting web sites and applying for Python job ads can be a good strategy, too. Once you get that first job, you'll want to get a couple of years (five is a good minimum but not always necessary) of experience under your belt and then follow the steps outlined in my "How to get a work permit" series.
This course of action is hard, takes a long time, and isn't suitable for everyone. There are also plenty of details that I've omitted and this is not the only way to an IT career. Instead, I've chosen it because it's a strategy that many have followed and works. If you find that you love programming, this is only the starting point. For many readers, you have jobs as waiters, clerks, or other relatively low-paying positions and getting into IT can easily double or triple your salary. It's also a relatively recession-proof field and can open doors to foreign lands like few other jobs can do. Countries want IT skills. If you have them, you can make your dreams real.