Location Independent, International Jobs: Jalpan from Passive Income Engineering

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. I’ve interviewed all kinds of people who all have slightly different takes on location independence or living internationally. Recent posts include Joney TalksRuby from a Journey We Love, Pete of Do You Even Blog?, and Heather

Guest posters will be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now.  

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Today I’d like to introduce Jalpan, a mechanical engineer by day and personal finance/investing blogger by night. 

He blogs at Passive Income Engineering. Jalpan’s post tells us how he moved abroad, first for college, then for a one-year international assignment in Houston, Texas. 
Let’s here the engineer’s perspective on international jobs! Take it away, Jalpan!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born in India and moved to Jakarta, Indonesia with my parents when I was 6. I later moved to Singapore for college when I turned 17. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I’m 27 today and am single. I need to step up when it comes to putting myself out there and going on dates.
Location Independent, International Jobs: Jalpan--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Jalpan spent a year working in the US, and made sure to site see while he was here! 
Currently, I am a mechanical engineer by day and personal finance/investing blogger by night:)
My blog is Passive Income Engineering and its main focus is on building scalable and sustainable streams of income that can run with little or no time on your part. I am an engineer and write with an engineer’s perspective. I want to know how things work and make them work for me. That’s how I came up with the name.

How did you make the decision to move internationally?

My first move from India to Indonesia was entirely due to my parents.

For college, Singapore seemed to be the best option for me since their universities are recognized internationally and place well in international rankings.

I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and when I found out that my university had a work+study program specifically geared towards entrepreneurship, I was dying to go. It involved interning in a tech start-up and taking lessons in entrepreneurship at a partner university in Stockholm, Sweden.
Lastly, my one year in Houston was a training assignment from my current employer. It was crucial to my professional development and since I was single and loved to travel and experience new cultures, it was a total no-brainer for me.

What was the process like for finding jobs?

Stockholm

For my Sweden experience, I had to be selected by my university and once that happened, I had to interview with companies that were participating in the program. It was scary as one of the companies took five weeks to make a decision and a delayed decision could have meant that I would have to delay going on the program for another six months.

Sweden is very culturally different from any other country that I’ve ever visited. It’s a really great place. They are a Socialist country and they do redistribute wealth. Even so, a lot of people want to do business there. There’s a part of Stockholm called Kista, which is the second hottest place for tech startups after the Silicon Valley. It’s also a very egalitarian country–it’s not uncommon to have two CEOs running a company, for example. There is almost militant gender equality there. Sweden mandated that for Lego sets, for example, half of the little people, like airline pilots, are women. Working mothers get sixteen months of paid maternity leave and I’ve never heard of anyone suing for gender discrimination or anything like that.

Studies have found that Swedes are some of the most open people in the world–maybe too open. It really pains me to sometimes see that after Sweden welcomes immigrants, some of the immigrants do not obey laws and hurt the police amongst others. I love Sweden and I love the tolerant nature of the Swedes but as my friend says “we shouldn’t tolerate intolerance.”

Houston

When I went to the US, I had a totally different cultural experience. For my training assignment at work, it was an internal selection process again. For those looking for an international assignment, I would really encourage you to look at your company’s internal job portal and see what kind of openings they have in the country of your choosing. Though it may not explicitly say that they are willing to consider international applications, you’d be surprised what could happen if you express keen interest in the job and show how you are qualified for it!

My employer started a new facility in Singapore, and a lot of us who were hired on didn’t have the necessary experience for the more complex projects. So our employer sent us to Houston, who had more experienced engineers who could train us.

We were put up in an Extended Stay Hotel which had a shuttle that would take us back and forth to work. On the weekends, I participated in as many cultural activities as possible.

Some people say you get bigger when you move to the US [Laurie: apparently America’s love of fast food is not a secret], but I actually lost about 15-20 pounds. I started training for a triathlon, and bought a bike which I eventually shipped back to Singapore. We did a bunch of cultural activities, like going to the Houston Livestock Show. We went to a shooting range (that was one day before I flew back to Singapore. People told me to make sure to do my laundry that night, so I wouldn’t set the sensors off in the airport.)

I went absolutely crazy shopping at the premium outlets, because things are so much more expensive in Singapore. When my parents were visiting, I told them not to bring any checked bags, so they could bring my stuff back with them. We had over 200 pounds of luggage at the airport! Your dollars go much further in the US.

Finding International Jobs

I have friends who found jobs overseas independently and I also have friends who run websites specifically to help people find jobs overseas.

A friend in the UK said only some employers are licensed to hire from overseas and this list can be found here. Obviously this would help loads to someone looking for a job in the UK.

Another friend went on exchange to Germany, looked up start-ups that were incubated at the university and sent his resume to them.

Lastly, a friend runs the website Start Me Up which is focused on helping people aged 20-23 get internships at startups.

Through her, I also learned about a website called Go Overseas that helps people find overseas opportunities. How about that!!??

Jalpan in Stockholm--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Jalpan spent a semester in Stockholm, Sweden during college.

 Immigration Advice

I think the biggest challenge in moving overseas is the immigration implications. For example, for my cousins who moved to the US, they need to be able to renew their H1-B visas in order to continue to stay and work in the US.

I asked them what I would have to do in order to emigrate there and they said that a US employer would have to file for an application for me and prove that they are not able to find someone locally to fill the spot. The applications start only at a specific time of the year and the results are also out only during a specific time of the year. Moreover, once I am in the US and apply for a permanent residency, that application takes a long time as well!
With Brexit, we can see that it’s becoming a global phenomenon.
So for those looking to move overseas, I’d say plan with 3 steps:

  1. Determine your objective – why do you want to move overseas and which country + what type of jobs will help you achieve this objective.
  2.  Determine the immigration process – the last thing you want to do is find a job, apply for it whole heartedly and then find that you are not eligible because they are not willing to sponsor a visa for you.
  3. Go all in – once you’ve decided to achieve something, pursue it will 100% determination.

Favorite part? Least favorite part?

My favorite part of the process was simply having to earn it! They say when you work hard for something and are chosen for it, it makes it more valuable.

The least favorite part of it was all the admin procedures. In the case of moving to Sweden, it wasn’t under my control how long the companies took to make a decision. In the case of moving to Houston, Texas, for my training assignment, my visa took three months!!

Do you have any funny culture shock moments?

In Swedish, the word for good is “bra.” And the word for 6 is “sex.” As a 19 year old, it took me a while to stop giggling at that!
In the US, it was the fact that you just had to drive to get anywhere. Living in Singapore where there is an excellent public transport system, I never felt the urge to learn how to drive. But when it came to the US, it was a necessity. So I took lessons, got my license and the very next night, drove on the wrong side of the road!! When I went to the DMV, everyone else there was like 15 or 16 years old, and I was 23, trying to get my license. It felt so awkward.

Why would you recommend a short term international assignment to someone? Or not?

I 100% recommend working internationally to anyone and everyone. The act of immersing yourself in a new culture really opens your mind to possibilities and makes you more creative. Though I can’t find it, I swear I read about a study that showed this is a very real possibility. [Laurie: I believe it! The most close-minded people I encounter have never traveled!]

You also learn to relate and make friends with people you don’t know from cultures that may be alien to you.

How has working remotely positively (or negatively) impacted your finances? (since this is a personal finance blog!).

Great question! In my case, moving to Sweden for a year during college was quite an expensive move and it also delayed my graduation by six months. However, I would say that the financial impact is just one side of the coin. I think the experience I gained during that year and the skills I learned are totally priceless.

Moving to Houston for a year was a financial plus for me since the cost of living there is much lesser than in Singapore so my expenses fell considerably.

What are your future plans?

I do enjoy my job so I plan to keep working in the foreseeable future but I also love personal finance and investing so I want to reach more people through my blog and launch a course about the strategies I use to generate an income stream from investing with just 10 minutes of time commitment a month.

I really enjoyed hearing Jalpan’s story–he is a really interesting guy and is full of fascinating information! Make sure to ask Jalpan any questions in the comments section, or get in touch with him in the Comments section of his blog.

 

 

Author: Laurie

Hi. I’m Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

4 thoughts on “Location Independent, International Jobs: Jalpan from Passive Income Engineering”

  1. Thank you so much for this post Laurie! It was a lot of fun:)

    Hello everyone, thanks for reading this post. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I love connecting with others!

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