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Any advice for my son?
Old 08-16-2013, 06:01 PM   #1
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Any advice for my son?

Hi All

Since many of you are engineers and many of you have traveled oversees for your jobs, I was hoping that some of you could give me/us some insight. My son is 24 and a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate. He accepted an engineering position with a company in the automobile industry a couple of months ago. This week he was approached by his boss and was told that he is being considered for an opportunity to go to Japan for 13 months. During that time he will be expected to learn the Japanese language and also receive intense training with the way certain functions are performed for his company in Japan. After the 13 months are over, and assuming he successfully completes the 13-month training, he would then be placed in a new position back here in the states where he would be expected to travel rather frequently to the various plants/offices world-wide that are owned by this company to provide training to various personnel.

We all recognize what a wonderful opportunity this would be for him, but he has some concerns. He still young (24) and is worried about the culture shock, missing his friends, missing family, etc. He's also not thrilled with the idea of more schooling since he just graduated this past May . I mentioned to him that a number of you are engineers and have done a lot of oversees travels for your jobs and you all seem to think it was a great opportunity. He suggested I start a thread and request some input from those of you who have done this - both the positive and the negative. Any things in particular he should consider? Any questions he should be asking? What was the best part of it and what was the worst? Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:18 PM   #2
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Overseas postings are a fantastic way to get ahead in your career. I worked in Japan twice for my company. The first was when I was 23 years old. I had planned to stay for a couple of years then come back home...but I kept getting promoted just as I was getting itchy for something else. I ended up staying 8 years, and finally got a transfer to the US. I was here for 6 years, and because I knew the language and had expertise needed at the time, they asked me to to go back. Three years later, I ended up being the regional head for Asia, and we ended up staying 14 years.

While he is there, he will make new friends, gain new experiences. If his current friends are no longer his friends after 13 months, then they weren't really friends to begin with. I really hope he takes this opportunity.

R

PS: just FYI, you can get a pretty basic command of Japanese in a year, but if they expect him to be fluent when he comes home, well, let's just say that's a pretty high bar. I am fluent, but with nearly 24 years in the country, I should be.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:28 PM   #3
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learn Japanese in 13 months? Good luck with that. Otherwise seems like a great opportunity. I traveled abroad on business for a number of years and really enjoyed it. As I got older I didn't enjoy it so much!
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:09 PM   #4
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I think to learn to speak Japanese isn't that difficult. Japanese is actually one of the easier language. They don't have all those crazy rules. It is the writing and reading. In 13 months he might not become fluent in speaking the language, but he should have a good grasp and be well on the road to eventual fluency.

24, go for it.
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:59 PM   #5
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It's a great opportunity for your son. And much easier to do at this point in his life as he does not have a wife and kids to worry about.

Also, it's much easier to do at this point in his career. I've heard of some automotive mega-corp mid-career folks going on overseas assignments for a year or two and sort of being 'forgotten about' when it came time for them to return. They'd come back home on schedule but there really wasn't a job slot for them to fit into. That could be a point for your son to discuss with his boss beforehand.

Depending on the company, it could also result in your son being able to save quite a bit of money, as the company typically pays for a good chunk of the overseas housing cost (up to 100%), usually one or two trips home per year, as well as other costs associated with the overseas assignment including paying to get their income taxes prepared. Some companies also bank a portion of the paycheck for the overseas folks (as so many expenses are being paid by the company).

With Skype, Facebook, cheap long distance calls, etc....it's far easier to stay in touch with folks stateside these days.

(I heard of an entrepreneur here doing a lot of business with a guy in India..so he sent a local cell phone to the guy in India and now they talk all the time at local U.S. cell phone rates. Might be something for your son to investigate.)

If nothing else, it will look good on his resume.

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Old 08-16-2013, 08:19 PM   #6
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Omni's point in the second paragraph is important. This happened to my nephew. He was well on his way up in a transportation company and they wanted him to spend a couple years in Germany. He was married, he loved the work and the adventure. When the two year tour was over, he returned to the home base in the states. There were a lot of new people that had arrived and he felt like he didn't have a home. He started putting feelers out on the internet and another transportation manufacturer grabbed him. This was over the course of a couple years. Now he is happy things worked out the way they did, they have a family and are enjoying life.

One never knows what is around the corner so those bases omni is talking about have to be covered.

I never had the opportunity to be assigned overseas and don't know how I would have handled it. I transferred around the country to different plants and that isn't easy either so I imagine overseas would be quite difficult.

Best wishes to him and hopes he makes the right decision.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:38 PM   #7
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Thanks to everyone who has offered a comment thus far. I have given my son a link to this thread so he can follow along with all the thoughts. It had never crossed my mind that there wouldn't be a spot for him to return to, but the boss already said he would come back to a different position within the corporation, so hopefully that is the way it would work out.
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:46 PM   #8
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Go, just go. He will broaden his experience, broaden his knowledge, further his career, and it will change how he sees the world and how he sees his country.

He is an adult...what is the issue?

Go and enjoy it, jump in feet first. The world is too small a place to remain at home when you have an opportunity like this.
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:11 AM   #9
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My last position, before ER in 2010, was Regional Director for Asia Pacific, for a company manufacturing scientific research instrumentation. I traveled about 15 weeks a year, covering most of the countries in the region.

It is true that travel will broaden one's mind and provide much experience not otherwise available with a conventional, non traveling job.

As I grew older, the travel became harder and more stressful. It was a relief when I finally ER'd, knowing that this activity was finally behind me and that all future travel would be voluntary and self imposed.
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Old 08-17-2013, 06:05 AM   #10
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My advice is the advice the I give myself. "If you are not living on the edge, then you are taking up too much room."

My misfortune was not to gather this gem into my psyche until my early thirties.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:31 AM   #11
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I spent my career as an automotive engineer and have some insight into the culture. The opportunities given your son indicate that he is well thought of in the company (at least by some key people) and is potentially on a fast track. At this point, he needs to decide if he wants to embrace it and take all the good and bad that comes with that opportunity.

As others have said, he is an adult now
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:17 AM   #12
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Go, just go. He will broaden his experience, broaden his knowledge, further his career, and it will change how he sees the world and how he sees his country.

He is an adult...what is the issue?

Go and enjoy it, jump in feet first. The world is too small a place to remain at home when you have an opportunity like this.
+1,000

I would have responded, "Where to I sign?" on the spot!
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:29 AM   #13
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Do it, my cousin earned his CPA, learned Mandarin now lives in Singapore and is making great money, his children are getting a great education in and out of school. I had a chance to go to Hong Kong at 18 and didn't do it, at 48 I still regret it. Jump in with both feet and kick some butt! Very passionate about not wasting opportunities. Can't turn back the clock.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:17 AM   #14
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Go for it. This is a great opportunity at such a young age. This will certainly enhance his career prospects within the company and lead to other opportunities. Japan is a terrific place to explore and learn. The internet should provide plenty of opportunity to learn of others the same age who want to meet up to socialize and to network.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:28 AM   #15
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What I don't understand is this. Your son is an adult, 24 years old, and as my dear old mother used to say...has all of his own teeth. He is far from being a baby. Surely he can make his own decision. He needs to decide now if he wants to further advance his education, experience, and promotion prospects. It is a very straightforward decision.

This is not just about a job in another country. The employer is looking at this new hire and trying to determine if this is someone who is willing to grow, to learn, and to advance his career in the company. It is not just about a job in Japan,,,it is much more than that. Your son's employer will gain a great deal of insight into his character and career chances in the company by this response. It is the first test after the job offer is accepted.

Go, there is NO downside and the upside is huge.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:29 AM   #16
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The opportunities given your son indicate that he is well thought of in the company (at least by some key people) and is potentially on a fast track. At this point, he needs to decide if he wants to embrace it and take all the good and bad that comes with that opportunity.

As others have said, he is an adult now
+1

This used to be a big part of US corporate culture, and it good they are still doing it. "We'll train you and send you to where the action is" are magic words and he's not likely to hear them again if he declines.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:37 AM   #17
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Not to pile on, but encourage him. What a wonderful opportunity. While at Megacorp our group had the first Ex-pats, all of them benefitted greatly. In terms of salary, life experiences and future opportunities.

The ones that took on Asia assignments did the best of all. One gal FIREDed at 42, she was the Managing Director for Megacorp for all of Asia, she's lives in Bali now.

MRG
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:57 PM   #18
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I am not an engineer, but I just have to chime in that I am very surprised at all the positive responses.

At that age I would have said my family, friends and hobbies are much more important than a job. But then I married out of college, back then we had very in demand skills, and we always had two good incomes so I never felt the need for more money or promotions. I always wanted more free time with as much pay for as little responsibility and work as possible, not to have a life centered around a megacorp job, and eventually I became self employed so I could be more of a master of my own fate.

So I guess my 2 cents would be your son should think first about his long term goals in life and what is important to him. If he likes to travel for work and wants to climb the corporate ladder then, as others have said, this is probably a great opportunity. Maybe I am in the minority but those have always been pretty much the opposite of my goals in life.
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:03 PM   #19
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He should go imo.
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:17 PM   #20
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Again, I thank everyone for their comments. While I agree he is not a baby and is now an adult, this is his first, real big-boy job (he has interned while in college, worked at a pizza place in high school). I understand his fears. This is a whole new world for him, and personally I hope he embraces this opportunity with open arms and an open mind. I have no doubt this will have a tremendous impact on his career not only with this company, but with future employers as well. However, I understand why this is a difficult decision for him to make (and only he must make this, not I or his father). I feel that the comments from others who have been in similar circumstances will be helpful to him, so again, I am grateful for your responses. I will support him in whatever decision he comes to (but I think he's leaning towards going). It's an exciting time for him.
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