Succeed as an Expat

How to Succeed as an Expat: Real Advice from Expat Professionals

Kick start your new career and succeed as an expat professional with these practical tips from international managers who have been in your shoes.

To succeed as an expat professional is no easy feat. Once you’ve found your perfect career the hard work begins. So how do you kick start your life to succeed as an expat professional? We have tips and recommendations from real managers who have been in your shoes and can help along the way.

Learn about local business and culture.

Studying these in advance will give you leverage before starting your new career.

  • Read and research. There’s nothing like a trip to the library- or to your computer- to find books and articles on foreign business culture. Always be aware of current events by subscribing to local news sources and using Google Alerts.
  • Take a language class. Even if your job is conducted in your native language, learning the local language will help you better understand the culture and communicate with native peers and clients.

KT Flood is an expat from the U.S., living in Germany. She is a compensation consultant at Amazon.


KT Flood has the right combination figured out, “I enrolled in language courses prior to leaving the U.S., and continued lessons upon arrival. To learn the business culture and etiquette, I read a lot of expat blogs, attended professional events and I eventually hired a career coach for specific questions and interview coaching tailored for Germany.” Flood also chose to study abroad in France, to see what her professional field was like in a foreign country.


  • Build a supportive professional and social network:
    Networking is critical to your success.
  • Attend work events. While some people believe that work and home life should stay separate, that is not always the case as an expat. You may find your coworkers are some of the most relatable people in your new life.
  • Build a healthy friend group. Attend meetups and events for your personal and professional interests. These can easily be found online and there is something for everyone.
  • Find a buddy before you move. If you start looking for contacts ahead of time, you may find support right off the bat. A great place to start looking is Linkedin or your Alma Mater affiliate networks and see if you can find anyone willing to give you pointers.
  • Pay Attention to your Health. Being an expat in a high performing career can be draining.
  • Find reliable, active people- who care about you. Build meaningful, deep relationships. It is imperative to have people willing to help during the hard times and keep you motivated.

Ganesh Shankar is a product manager at Google Munich. He is an expat from Australia.


Ganesh Shankar advises, “Expect things to be fairly stressful for the first six months while you adjust. So, don’t be shy asking for help from your colleagues. I asked for help reading my German mail and with insurance applications. This goes both ways, as an expat manager you should look out for the mental health of those who’ve recently transferred.”

  • Prioritize meaningful connections. Building new friendships is often exhausting, mentally. Meetups are great for socializing, but not everyone is right for you. Focus on lasting relationship and know when to walk away.
  • Utilize the resources at work. What does your company offer? Free help in applying for your blue card? Online community forums for advice from your peers? Free gym membership? Use these to effectively reduce your stress.
  • Set Yourself up for Success: The first impressions you make are critical on the path to an executive position.
  • Be strategic at work. As you work on a path toward success ensure you’re building the right relationships. There may come a time when you need people to vouch for you in promotion. If you’ve alienated yourself this will be much more difficult to achieve.
  • Fight for what you want. You don’t always need to be a people pleaser as the new guy, ensure you’re setting your career goals and taking the necessary steps to achieve them.

You’re now ready to take on the world and succeed at your new, exciting life as an expat professional.

About the author

Susanna Kelly. Susanna is an avid traveler, aspiring novelist and self-proclaimed geek. She was born in Alaska, but is loving life in Munich. Find out more about Susanna’s latest adventures:


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