Our Columnist, Steffen Hadi, had the amazing opportunity to have worked in Singapore and Japan. He enjoyed the experience but eventually decided to return home to Indonesia. What would you choose if you have the opportunity to work abroad? In this article, he shares some tips and guiding questions for those in a similar crossroad.
In this opportunity, I would like to ask you a reflective question, namely, if you have the opportunity to work overseas, would you eventually return to Indonesia or stay there? I believe, almost all Indonesian people who are working overseas would face a cross road in their life, having to decide whether to stay or go back to Indonesia.
To help you in answering this question, let me give you some insight on what to consider, as I had faced this question twice in my life: the first time was when I worked in Singapore and the second time was in Japan. To give you a spoiler here, my respond for this question was always the same, going back to Indonesia. But worry not. Here, I will not lead you to come into the same conclusion as mine. The following queries are pretty much neutral.
Family here does not only include parents, but also your siblings, spouse (or future spouse), and even friends. Why friends? Well, for some people, friends are closer than siblings, so friends here (the real close ones) should be taken into consideration.
Many say, home is where the family is. This is true. Wherever your family is, that is home for you. Family is where you can share your innermost feelings, secrets and worries without hesitation. On that note, family is a strong reinforcement for your sanity and motivation, and in turn, could affect your performance at work.
It does not mean that if, for instance, your parents are in Indonesia, you would need to return to Indonesia eventually. Option like bringing your parents overseas could be the alternative, if you feel that the weight of family-like environment leans more toward overseas.
You need to think that between the two (or more) countries, where you could be at the highest peak of your career. Do not take money into consideration, as in many cases, even a low role in a country could earn more than an intermediate position in another country. Think about the potential and security. Higher role in your career does not only mean earning more money, instead, it represents more opportunity, power, security and quality job.
I would like to give you an illustration. You have a human resources degree in Indonesia. You got a job as an administrative staff overseas with significantly higher wage that you could get if you start your career as a human resource consultant in Indonesia. However, the role that you get overseas would not lead you anywhere as the higher position require local people or that the regulations in the relevant country does not allow foreigner to take strategic position. In such situation, you would need to consider the career potential for both cases.
Note that I do not discourage you from taking the position overseas. There are many cases where Indonesians could strive overseas and get strategic positions. But, needless to say, it requires a great deal of hard work which makes you something more that the local manpower.
Culture and Value
Cultural consideration is also an important factor. Not all people born in Indonesia agree with all aspects of Indonesian culture. I have many friends who were born in Indonesia but ended up staying overseas due to culture and social value. They are just more comfortable with the culture and value in the other country, and indeed, we cannot force a value into people’s minds.
Let’s say a woman feels that she is bound by many cultural restriction in the country x, her birthplace. She feels that she will not achieve her full potential in her birthplace. So, she moves to country y, where women are more free and bound to less complicated cultural value. Moreover, in country y, precedent shows that women could fill strategic and leadership role. Upon such consideration, she chooses to stay permanently in country y.
Of course, you need to consider other factors as well such as taxes, social benefits, your ability to purchase or own property, investment, and immigration status (how easy for you to stay permanently in the relevant country). There are many other factors that would differ between every people and his/her specific situation. But the takeaway from this is that you need to consider every factor, be responsible and live fully.
After all, working overseas is indeed a good opportunity that not everyone could get. But, in every opportunity lies responsibility whether to yourself, your family, friends, workplace, or country. Hope this helps!