“I’m graduating soon, and want to work remotely; how do I get a remote job?”
I’ve gotten this question for a few years, and quite a bit recently, so I wanted to write a few posts about my thoughts on this, and how they’ve changed over time. This is part 1, where I’ll provide some background context. Part 2 discusses getting a job for new graduates, and Part 3 applies that to a remote context and provides some other resources.
As part of the Web Design course I teach at LCC International University, we spend one day discussing remote work. I put this into the course because a) I had been working remotely for a few years, b) I thought it was a perspective the students weren’t going to get in their other coursework and was important, and c) these students have distinct remote work advantages over similar peers.
Most of my students are from Eastern Europe, broadly – Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Albania, Kazakhstan, etc. They’re here to study in English for 4 years and earn a Bachelor’s degree, usually majoring in Communication or Business Administration. When they graduate, they’re most likely going to get a job in Lithuania or their home country. Salaries for those jobs are fairly low. (Now, they’ve gone up substantially, especially as Lithuania has joined the Euro and raised the minimum wage, but they’re still low relative to Western Europe/US/UK.) A student who gets a good full-time job after graduation in Klaipeda might earn a bit less than 1000 Euro each month.
In comparison, US minimum wage (depending on state, etc) is roughly $8 per hour. Full time, that’s a bit higher than a good wage here in Klaipeda ($8*2000/12 ~= $1300/month). And that’s US minimum. Not median, not average. So, these students have a strong financial incentive to pursue remote work. They live in a low cost-of-living (COL) area, and if they can earn even double US minimum wage – a salary that would be quite low for many jobs in the US (~$32k/year) – they can live very comfortably.
They also have competitive advantages over others – they’ve studied in English for 4 years at university, including all of their major-related coursework, and so can more-easily join a multi-national corporation or work remotely with a diverse team. They’ve also worked with a wide range of cultures, relative to their peer group – the university is very diverse.
I looked at these advantages and the salary gap and immediately started recommending remote work to my students. However, I then watched them struggle to get remote jobs. Young, talented individuals, many of whom had some experience, couldn’t land a remote job. After a few years of advising and watching students enter the workforce, I changed my recommendation. I now recommend that students get a job in the industry/career path that they’re interested in for a few years, then pursue remote work after that experience.
More about that, and why I recommend waiting to pursue remote work in most cases, in part 2.