Interview with Emma Bostian, a Software Engineering Expat
Emma Bostian is an American Software Engineer for Spotify in Stockholm, co-host of the Ladybug Podcast, and public speaker who shares her passion for software engineering throughout her social channels, her e-book "De-Coding The Technical Interview Process." In this interview, Emma shares her experience moving to Germany and Sweden to further her career as a software engineer.
Where are you originally from and where did you spend your time abroad?
I am originally from Red Hook, New York (about two hours north of New York City! Before moving to Germany I lived in Austin, Texas for three years and loved it!
When did you know you wanted to move abroad?
I studied abroad my junior year of college in London, and fell in love with Europe. I always hoped one day to move back, but it wasn't until I dated a German colleague at IBM that I picked up and moved!
What are some important priorities or key factors in deciding where you are open to work abroad?
My main driver in moving abroad was having a support system, so moving to a foreign country to be with a loved one was my motivating factor. For those looking to move abroad, I highly recommend looking into the cultural differences-- the language (and taking some language courses prior to moving if possible), and see whether it's a place you'd even like to live.
Try to visit once or twice before moving as well! When moving to Sweden, it was for my dream job offer as a Software Engineer at Spotify. So for both Germany and Sweden, I had roots I was putting down.
Walk us through the steps you took to plan and coordinate your relocation?
When moving to Germany and Sweden I used relocation agencies. I had a law firm I worked with who took care of the visa immigration paperwork, so in those instances I was extremely fortunate.
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What has been the most challenging aspects of moving to a foreign country?
Coordinating my cats' relocation. I adopted two cats in Austin, Texas and they've flown with me to Germany and Sweden! Figuring out customs for pets is tricky, which is why I highly recommend using pet relocation service if possible; they're a great service.
How has moving abroad impacted your career?
Moving abroad has skyrocketed my career. It has made me more open-minded and patient. I am less afraid to fail and more likely to speak up.
What are ways that help you adapt to a different cultural work environment?
I love the book The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. It helped me understand my co-workers much better! Every culture communicates differently than us so being conscientious of these differences and having honest conversations with your co-workers will help your working relationship.
Do you have specific tips on integrating into a new culture and building out your personal community in a foreign country?
Get involved at work and outside of work in different activities! I struggled to make friends in Germany but once I did it felt more like home! When moving abroad you have to be open-minded about meeting new people. It can take a while to make friends but you'll get there.
What advice would you give to someone considering relocating overseas for work?
I highly recommend investing in different companies who specialize in visa applications and travel abroad because it will alleviate the stress of navigating it yourself. Additionally try not to stress about the things you can't control. Have some faith in the process. It's scary but it will all work out.
What other relocation questions do you have for Emma? Share below in the comments.