When I made the transition from corporate America to working in Asia…wait, what? Oh, yes, that’s right. There was no transition. I just quit my job, sold everything I owned, and ran off to frolic about in a new and unexplored land. Why, yes, it was very exciting. It was also a completely ridiculous and shortsighted thing to do.
If you are planning to live in Asia while carving out a corporate career, take this advice. Stay home! Stay home until you secure a position that includes an overseas assignment. Why? Because there are two types of corporate employees in Asia, those on expat packages and those who are local hires.
The difference between these two types of employees is easy to illustrate; one gets a car and a driver, the other rides the bus. That’s not a figurative comparison, by they way, and it’s not the only difference between those sent here and those who tell their bosses to stuff it and fly out here on their own.
Those who are sent to work in Asia by their corporate employers receive “hardship” pay in addition to their already large salaries. They get, on average, a $30,000 a year allotment to pay for their kids’ schooling. They are put up in foreign housing complexes, complete with pools, saunas, yards and full-time maids—all included in their expat packages. They are given extra vacation time and provided with annual round-trip airline tickets, so they can return home for the holidays each year. In short, they are the kings and queens of the expat world.
And what about the local hires, those adventurous souls who drop everything, show up, and then start applying for corporate jobs? They get, well, treated like the locals. No housing. No housekeeper. No education funds. No extra vacation. No airline tickets. And their pay? Wait, sorry, I seem to have gotten a bit of dust in my eyes.
Got a little dust in your eyes? Riding high on an expat package? Tell us all about in the comments section below.