Making dreams come true

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It’s official: we’re moving to Paris in January!

I can’t believe it’s finally happening. Living abroad has always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. Many of my Tahitian relatives studied or worked in France, so I grew up listening to them speak in French about their amazing lives abroad.

Over the past few weeks, people have commented on how “lucky” I am and asked for the secret formula to landing a job abroad. Their faces usually fall when I say it took me 2 years of actively searching. We are always eager to share successes, but don’t often discuss the hard work it took to get us there. Here are a few things I learned (that probably apply to any job search):

  1. Tell your story
    What’s your “why”? Make people feel what you feel.
  2. Be persistent
    I was told “no” many times over the past 2 years. I wasn’t senior enough; there wasn’t enough budget; the company wasn’t the right fit; it goes on. At times I felt completely defeated and questioned whether this goal would ever be achievable. My friend Mouni then told me that rejection doesn’t mean it’s the end, it just means you haven’t found the right fit yet.
  3. Network
    If possible, it’s usually easier to transfer within your current company. Within Microsoft, I found out who the engineering team was in Paris and used all our internal sites to research their product roadmap and team members. Anytime a Paris person was here in Seattle, I’d go meet him/her for coffee to learn more about the team and get recommendations of other people I should meet.
    Outside of Microsoft, my current network and LinkedIn proved to be extremely helpful. All the interviews I’ve ever gotten were through former colleagues, recruiters, or mentors. If you think about how many online applications a large tech company gets per day, it just doesn’t make sense to waste time applying that way. For each position I was interested in, I looked up employees who were recruiters or alum of my previous companies/schools. I sent them a message introducing myself and asked for a 30-minute call. Et voila, interviews! (Seriously, it’s that easy if you’re fit for the job- just put yourself out there and be nice.)
  4. Demonstrate interest
    Last year, I made a point to stop by our Paris office during vacation to introduce myself to the team in person and see the office. People were extremely impressed that I went the extra mile and were convinced I was serious about moving.
    Back in Seattle, I also led a hackathon project related to their product, which showed I could contribute and build interesting ideas in the space.
  5. Share your goals
    We often hesitate to share our long-term plans out of fear that we won’t reach those goals and publicly fail. However, if people don’t know where you want to go, they can’t help you get there. Throughout this process, my friends and mentors have been extremely helpful in giving advice or connecting me to others who had already accomplished the same thing.

Above all else, be a rockstar at whatever you’re doing in the meantime. Even though I always had my eye on Paris, I still loved my job at the time. It took me a while to get here, but when I finally received that HR call with the offer, it felt so incredibly rewarding knowing all my persistence paid off.

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