Second Floor Flat – An American Expat in London

Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

Life As An Expat: Finding A Job In Another Country

Recently I was asked for advice on finding a job in another country.

After all, for many expats or wannabe-expats, that's a pretty big part of the process. Gotta have the money to pay for all of those plane tickets, amIright?

I thought about it and realized that I'd never really shared advice on the topic. Why?

Because I don't know.

Of course that's not entirely true, but it is a little bit true. 

I moved to London from New York almost three years ago. Some of that time was spent working as a freelancer, some it was spent working in UK companies. But even more of that time was spent going on interviews.

Before we go any further I should preface this with the fact my move abroad was done individually and was not guided by an intra-company transfer or anything of the sort. If you're attempting to change your role or location within your company, most of this will not apply.

But if you're looking to move abroad on a visa sponsored by a company, or if you're already an expat who's eager for work, there are a few things to know about finding a job in another country. Here are 7 of them:

 

IT'S GOING TO BE HARDER THAN YOU THINK

Foolishly, I assumed that because I'd been lucky enough to easily and quickly find work that I loved during my time in New York that I would have the same experience in London, and that I would have it as soon as I arrived. 

Not so.

Before I moved to London, I sent a few cold emails to companies that I wanted to work for in the UK. I didn't expect much from them, and I didn't get much from them – which makes sense since I was still living in another country.

Once I arrived in London, I did some hard outreach and set up coffee dates. Some of it was fruitful, some of it was not. The whole "arranging coffee dates and receiving e-mail replies" thing was harder in London than it had ever been in New York. 

I still haven't figured out why that is though it's likely a combination of factors, one of those being that as a job hunter in New York I was in the very early stages of my career – we're talking internships, and first and second jobs. Still, getting a job or even an response in London was much, much harder for me than it was in New York.

This was probably due to the fact that...

 

NETWORKS DON'T ALWAYS TRANSFER

It feels obvious in hindsight. I had spent my entire career – from internships, to two jobs, and multiple freelance gigs – building a network in New York. Since London and New York are similar in so many ways – and because my experience is in a relatively small industry – I assumed that the contacts I built in New York would be enough to see me through my opening days in London. In other words, I thought my network would transfer.

With the exception of the first job I had in London – a job that I got thanks to to help of a lovely friend I had met in my interning days – that assumption was incorrect. I (wrongly) thought that my industry would be aware of the names of the companies I'd worked at in the past – companies I was and still am so proud of working for.

Not always, no. The moral of the story is that you shouldn't make assumptions. Instead, spend that time readying your pitch and firming up that CV. (And yes, depending on where you're going you may need a CV, which is slightly different from a resume. Another topic for another time!)

 

CONSULT OTHER EXPATS

Let's say you want to move to Paris and work in publishing. Sounds pretty neat, right? You might already have experience in publishing, but you want to start fresh at a new publisher in France. Throw caution to the wind, Eat Pray Love, etc.

To start I would recommend contacting HR Departments, looking through LinkedIn, and doing whatever you can to get in touch with the right contacts at the companies you'd most like to work for.

The problem is this: unless you have a spousal or ancestral visa, you're going to need a work visa, and you're going to need that company to assist you with your work visa. This is not an easy or inexpensive thing to ask of a prospective employer. If I were you, and if I was set on working in publishing in Paris but had no connections, I would seek the help of other expats (friends of friends of friends, online forums, Facebook groups) and ask their advice. There is a decent chance that one of them might work at a company that's hiring and is open to sponsoring employees from other countries (like you!).

Now let's say you're in my boat and are moving to another country for reasons outside of work – i.e. a family situation or a relationship. Contact expat groups and friends who are settled in the country in which you plan to move. The expat community is crazy helpful and will prove to be a very valuable resource.

SPEAK THE LANGUAGE

Literally. While we're on our "publisher in Paris" idea, let's make sure that everyone knows that you should absolutely be able to speak French if you're applying for a job in France, etc. Hoping this doesn't need to be said but juust in case.

 

BE READY TO ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS

When it comes to hours, pay, and your general work lifestyle, get ready to be flexible. This sort of stuff varies at every company and every job, but there are certain cultural norms within the workplace that will become immediately obvious to you when you start working in another country. Some will be welcome, some might not be. Either way, keep those expectations at bay and be ready to adjust them.

 

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

If you're still set on moving abroad, require a work visa, and have had no luck with connections, try the Jess-On-Thames route and get creative. Jess is American, lives in London, and spent the last 10 years living and working in Brussels. Woah.

So, how did Jess find a job in another country?

"I only had an internship or two under my belt when I graduated college. It was easier to come over on a Masters student visa and look for employment once here. Then I sent a personalised cover letter and a CV everywhere. To be honest I think I was in the right place at the right time with my first job. "

Which brings me to my next point...

 

KEEP GOING

Remember when I said I was surprised that it was harder to get a job here than I thought it would be?

If I'm honest with you, I probably completed outreach for about 80 jobs in my first two years in London. Maybe went on interviews with about 20 of them, and had phone and detailed email conversations with more. Two of these jobs worked out, and both were for contract/freelance roles that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm grateful to have had those experiences.

To get those jobs, and to get where I am now, there is one thing I do know and that's to never stop. My last role at a UK company was freelance and led me to the path that I'm on now, which I'm very, very happy with and feel lucky to have.

Even if it's discouraging, you just have to keep going. It'll pay off eventually, and trust me when I say that you'll be all the better for it.

 

Good luck!


Shopping List: 16 Indie Beauty + Skincare Lines

When it comes to beauty, I go through phases. Sometimes I'm out to buy every product I can find. Other times, I just can't be bothered.

Blame it on the weather or my discovery of a few great skincare lines, but right now I am beauty obsessed. I want serums and activated charcoal and body butters and natural soaps and all the rest. 

Even worse (or better) is the fact that there are so many amazing indie skincare and beauty lines out there these days. My Pinterest wishlists kept getting larger– as does my independent designer directory. So, in an effort to stay organized I've put together a list of 16 indie beauty and skincare lines I'm "lusting" after (if you will) after as of late:

toner ($22) by s.w. basics

mandarin & berry soap ($9) by birch & goldberry

unicorn oil ($18) by soul sunday

mermaid sea salt hair spray ($24) by captain blankenship

eye repair serum ($56) by earth tu face

rosy lip tint ($14) by marble & milkweed

mascara ($12) by stowaway cosmetics

facial scrub ($13.20) by fig + yarrow

portable soap sticks ($9.35) by cleanse with benefits – genius!

fantastic face wash ($26) by ursa major 

jasmine body oil ($44) by herbivore botanicals

hair serum ($22) by town & anchor

woke up on wilson lipstick ($19) by alchemy cosmetics

nourish serum ($60) by benshen

magnolia eau de parfum ($108) by commodity

palo santo solid fragrance ($12) by under aurora

+

skin creamerygolden apothecaryla bella figura, wary meyers, and 90k more – some of which you can find here


Megan Huntz FW 2015

As previously mentioned in this post on the lovely Very Fine South, I am oozing with love for my home city of Atlanta right now. Mainly because it's oozing with incredible, quality, creative talent.

Aside from Very Fine South, there's of course The Bitter Southerner – which my, you better subscribe to right now if you haven't already – as well as shops like Henry & June, and people like Stephanie Duncan and Muriel Vega. And then there's Megan Huntz.

Megan Huntz who spent a decade living and working in Italy and Spain. Megan Huntz who approaches fashion design with the eye of an industrial designer, which makes for beautiful, interesting pieces. Megan Huntz who, along with the others, has convinced me that Atlanta is fashionable, and legitimately so. Something I swore years ago wasn't true.

For naysayers in the audience (if there are any), I suggest you take a peek at Megan's Fall/Winter 2015 collection. I plan on picking up, like, all of it as soon as I'm back and settled in the South land. 

If you're in New York this week and are lucky enough to be going to WOMAN, be sure to stop by and see homegirl (aka Megan). She'll be there through close on Tuesday.


Good Reads: 20 February 2015

What are you guys doing this weekend?

If I'm honest, we haven't been up to much lately. I know that's not what you're supposed to say on a blog, because they're supposed to be filled with weekend trips and cupcakes, but in reality we're just kind of waiting in the in-between limbo that only those who have lived by a visa can understand.

We might make a trip to the Tate tomorrow to see Marlene Dumas – I've been a fan of her work since my SCAD days – and will probably watch a couple of Oscar contenders. (Birdman for the win!) Otherwise, that's about it. Just laying low, seeing what comes our way.

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have fun!

can't wait to give this a read. 

sweet video

would love to wear this dress all summer long. (bonus: it's designed by sisters from the south!)

a very cool cause dedicated to celebrating all things local

me and my girls.

i've been thinking about buying these for literally months. should i just do it?

love this idea for a diy easel lamp.

remember when we went to berlin for thanksgiving? you can see some of our photos here.

this look tho.

LOVE this project.

hoping the new goodies i ordered from (new london line) finery come this weekend.

official: found a natural deoderant that works / doesn't irritate! now: to find a paraben free shampoo that makes my hair look and feel good...

(side note: is anyone watching the bachelor / do you want to talk about it?)

california tailor discount ends today!

new finds: Arc of a Diver Alchemy / Sol de Sur / camelotia


Reminder: California Tailor Discount Ends Tomorrow

Quick reminder that it's your last chance (!) to get 40% off the new spring collection from L.A. x London line California Tailor with code LONDONCALLING

That's right – discount ends on Friday, Feb 20th at 11:59PM in London – which is 6:59PM for you East Coasters, and 3:59PM for you West Coasters.

In case you're on the fence, I'd recommend you:

Photos by D Watterson III

Fancy, right?

Happy shopping!


On Self-Respect, By Joan Didion

Sometimes I hate that I love people like Joan Didion and Joni Mitchell as much as I do.

Of course they're great, and of course my admiration and repeated playings of "Blue" are sound but my god are they cliche. These are the same people that every girl with wavy brown hair girl in every city in the world loves. But that doesn't change anything. I still love them, and I still like my hair. 

Because I've never read it, I've recently been working on Joan Didion's "Slouching Towards Bethlehem". I know "Goodbye To All That" and have even read this – which I would highly recommend to anyone who has moved from New York, so long as they feel that they're "ready" to read it. 

But while getting to "Goodbye To All That", which is the last essay of the book, I came across an essay written in 1961 that I underlined so much I figured I should say something about it.

And so, here are a few of my favorite lines from Joan Didion's "On Self-Respect":

Image by Julian Wasser, whose work is currently on display through March 21 at the Danziger Gallery in New York. 

Image by Julian Wasser, whose work is currently on display through March 21 at the Danziger Gallery in New York. 

"...self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions."

"To do without self-respect...is to be an unwilling audience of one to an interminable documentary that details one's failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for every screening."

"To live with self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk...counting up the sins of commission and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it, of course, depends on whether or not we respect ourselves."

"...people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things."

"...character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life – is the source from which self-respect springs."

"Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw; one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home."


How To Have A Good Day

There's really only one thing you need to do every day to (more or less) ensure that you have a good day. Ready for the big reveal?

Make your goddamn bed. 

Now: Obviously this doesn't actually guarantee that you'll have a good day. It doesn't even guarantee that you won't have the worst day of your life. But what it does guarantee is that you'll start out the morning feeling better about yourself, better about the bedroom, more organized, and overall more ready to "tackle" whatever it is that said day may bring.

I swear by this. So does my sister, and so does Brianna of Little Arrow Studio whose recent Instagram on this very topic prompted me to write this post.

I don't mean this as a rant, but know that making the bed is something I feel so strongly about that I won't leave the room until it's done. And I'm not talking about some slapped together, duvet-pulled-over-the-pillows situation – I'm talking about fully making the bed. Prop the pillows up, straighten that bedspread.

Don't believe me? Try it and tell me that it doesn't affect your mood. It may not, but really it will.

And while we're at it: Open the blinds and turn off the lights – because nothing is more depressing than having the lights on and blinds down during the day. (Like most things, David Sedaris says this best).

This is also something I feel strongly about, and I swear that these small parts of my routine honestly make a huge difference in the way I approach my day. 

Do you have any "everyday ritual"-type things that you have to do? Would love to hear 'em!