Leveraging foreign work experience for a future career back home?


I'm an American with a recent German masters degree who is about to accept a job offer (junior designer) with a smallish office here, but honestly my outlook is ultimately to settle down, pursue licensure, and develop my career back in the US (my B.Arch is from the US).

I'm pretty excited to live in one of my favorite cities, and get some office experience abroad, but at the age of 28 I'm still looking at this like study abroad that's gone on for too long. In summary I'm worried that after working here 1.5-2 years and moving back, that experience will be looked at suspiciously by US employers.

Is that the case (if any hiring staff could put 2c in) and how should I leverage this overseas full time work experience to be as applicable to the US market as possible?

Details to work: not an international office (40 staff, 1 location), German speaking, Revit based.

Jul 12, 19 3:10 am
atelier nobody

Looking at your resume, I would treat it as 1.5-2 yrs work experience, period.

In the interview, I would ask you about differences in architectural practice between the US and Germany - partially because I'm genuinely curious and a little jealous of your experience working abroad, but also to try and get an idea of how much that experience will really translate to working in the US.

If you had any internships in the US while getting your B.Arch, that would be a big plus.

(FWIW, I'm not in a hiring position presently, but have been in the past and almost certainly will be again.)

Jul 12, 19 1:24 pm  · 

Well is there any reason it should look suspicious? Couldn't get in graduate school in the US, moved to Germany, worked for 1.5 year, got fired and looking to move back to the US? 

Jul 12, 19 2:27 pm  · 

At 2 years post grad experience you're just building basic skills and understanding the workflow of an architecture office. Whatever principles you learn about designing within real world constraints and producing work in a team are applicable anywhere. Many offices would look at international experience as a positive sign that you are adaptable and enjoy a challenge.

For people returning after work abroad is that your professional network will be focused in a place you are leaving. If you're only gone 2 years it won't be a big deal - once you get past 5-10 years experience it starts to matter much more. But I know plenty people I've worked with abroad; none of them had any trouble getting good jobs back into their home country once they returned.

The main thing you'll need to consider is that you are unlikely to be able to accumulate IDP hours for NCARB if you're working for a local German architect. This will delay your path to licensing, but if it's only 2 years that's not a big deal in the long run. Just have a plan to focus on getting it done when you return.

Jul 12, 19 9:51 pm  · 

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