Meet Caroline Duke. Caroline is your typical American – smart and polite with excellent grammar, hygiene and corporate social responsibility. Caroline, who like all fellow Americans loves America, still craved a new challenge and earlier this year decided to take a one-year visa to live and work in Australia. Caroline joined Edelman last month to become the ninth non-Australian in Edelman’s Sydney offices, where she brings her unique American perspective and strong government experience to our growing Australian practice.
It makes perfect sense. Of the 195 countries in the world, only a handful use English as the primary language and of those only a few offer opportunities to practice at a global public relations agency. Australia is the warmest of those few. And of all the thousands of professions, public relations is perfect to practice abroad. It’s a budding industry where international and local demand is growing just as quickly as the supply, and it’s a profession that is similar enough across cultures to allow for success, but different enough to provide a challenge. It is one of the few professions where getting a job abroad can benefit the foreign individual personally and professionally, and where hiring a foreign professional can benefit the company or agency reciprocally.
Here are ten reasons why you should consider practicing public relations in Australia:
There is an Australian PR skills shortage. There is a major skills shortage in Australia and we need qualified people such as you. You’re a winner! I mean look around you. One out of five people at your PR firm is reading the Huffington Post or even worse, FoxNews.com. He or she just doesn’t get it. Now look at the internship applications on your desk. Where are we recruiting some of these people, at a Ke$ha concert? Every consultancy needs a skilled practitioner, a solid writer and a strategic thinker. Every Australian firm is hiring if it’s an outstanding candidate, so go and sell your skills.
Working abroad will enhance your resume, allowing you to work with thought leaders from a range of nationalities and backgrounds, and helping you make global contacts and relationships that will open countless doors in the future. Broaden your skills as you work with new clients, new publics, new media and new challenges.
Australians love you!* You’re funny, witty and have what many Australians consider the third- or fourth-best English-speaking accent in the entire world. Not only do you know how to dance to hip hop music, but you can also successfully pull off a backwards baseball cap with a popped collar. You’re an above-average swimmer and flexible enough to drink any kind of alcoholic drink at any given moment, making you fantastic for Australian networking events, client parties or PR box socials. Wow them with your boyishly handsome good looks or Mischa Barton charm!
*does not apply to everyone
There is no better time than now. You’re young, you’re new to the profession or you want to do this now before you settle down. It’s much easier to make this move when you’re in a mid-tier position, and much harder when you’re too experienced and have children running around, dragging you down financially and emotionally. You’re young and you’re growth-hungry. Donald Trump or Sarah Palin could be our next president. There is no better time to flee than now.
Learn a new public. Talking to Americans is easy when you’re American. You know how and where to reach them and you know what messages are likely to resonate with them. Talking to Australians is hard and listening to them is bloody harder. You won’t understand 35% of what they’re saying and you’ll end up spending half your day googling “zed”, “drop bear” and “ranga”. You’ll learn to rely less on your instincts and more on your studies, your new colleagues and your own inquisitive knowledge.
Meet new people. Embrace new cultures and make new friends. You’re in public relations so you’re obviously popular and extremely well-liked. It won’t be difficult to meet the locals and learn about their traditions, their beliefs, their interests and their obsessions. Every person has an interesting story to tell, and every story will help give you a bit more perspective.
Learn about yourself. Perspective can only be obtained when you have different situations to compare them with. I thought Americans treated their politicians harshly until I saw Q&A. I thought Glee was terrible until I saw Packed to the Rafters, and I thought San Francisco was pretty gay until I moved to Sydney. Perspective is great so keep an open mind and learn more about what you love and hate about America by living and practicing abroad.
Teach others. You have more to offer than just your skills and rugged American good looks. Just as you can learn about another culture and another way of practising PR, you can also teach others. During your interview, illustrate your experience in the U.S. and the different kinds of companies and campaigns you worked on, and demonstrate your eagerness to learn other strategies. The world can learn a lot from people like you, so don’t feel shy to teach!
Australians hate Justin Bieber. You’re safe here.
Edelman is hiring. Well what do you know, Edelman just happens to be recruiting highly-skilled Americans like you to join us in Sydney. We’re a growing firm and we have great clients and great fun. Living abroad is an adventure unlike any other, and practicing overseas is a challenge that even Canadians have taken on in the past. If this is a challenge for you, give us a shout!
Donald Takaya is an American who moved to Australia three years ago when he decided he was bored with San Francisco and its overpriced housing. You can follow him at @LifeInAustralia.