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How Do You Fit in as an Immigrant Worker in Your First Job?

It’s not always easy to leave your homeland and seek greener pastures abroad. Many citizens from underdeveloped and developing nations strive hard to go to Western nations, believing that these are the answer to their dreams. Of course, while many are well-prepared for the challenges of being an immigrant, a lot do not have the capacity and ability to adjust to this new life. Where exactly do you fall between these two extremes?

After all the frustration, you can finally celebrate. The fact that you’ve landed your first job in this new country already feels like a success. Halt your horses, though. Many soon find that first jobs are as heartbreaking in the developed countries as in underdeveloped ones. While getting a job in this new land feels like an accomplishment, surviving it is the real test of character.

Far too often, the pay, colleagues, and working conditions are less than ideal. How many times have you heard the story of a marketing specialist scrubbing floors in a fast-food restaurant or how a successful human resource manager from the Philippines had to wash the dishes in New York? The challenges of being an immigrant worker are immeasurable, but immigrants also have the tenacity of a bulldog. Nothing will stop them from pursuing their dreams, and you should say the same to yourself.

Learn the Language

Nothing good will come out of not knowing the language of where you are migrating to. Sure, you did the work. You’ve accomplished the papers, paid the fees, hired the right lawyers, and answered the questions at the immigration counter. Here’s the thing: how comfortable are you with speaking the language? It’s not about knowing the basics—the hi, hello, how are you, and how much is this? It’s about knowing how to communicate using that language.

If you are not a native English speaker, it will do you well to hire an ESL tutor. With ESL programs and worksheets, you can be comfortable in the language everybody understands. They say that if you know English, then you’ll be fine no matter where you find yourself. Of course, if your destination country has a native language such as Spanish, French, German, and many others, it will do you well to know how to speak it, too.

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Be Sensitive With Cultures and Traditions

In some cultures, pointing fingers is a big no-no. Bosses don’t like to be called sirs or madams. They like you to call them by their names. You may get the shock of your life moving from your hometown to this new and strange place. Make sure you know all about the cultures and traditions not only in the office but in that country. Be sensitive with your jokes and remarks. Some may not like it, and others may not easily get what you mean even if they are not directly affected.

Say “Yes” to Your Colleagues

If your colleagues ask you to go for a cup of coffee or a bottle of cold beer, say yes. At first, you might feel awkward and unsure about being with these people. But if you keep on saying no, pretty soon, they won’t make an effort anymore. If they are welcoming enough to ask you to come with them at the end of the shift, agree to go. Your family will understand that you are trying to build a rapport with these people, most of whom you will need to work with for years.

Do Not Be Intimidated

It’s okay not to be scared. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. What’s not okay is to be intimidated into thinking that you don’t deserve to be in that place. Trust yourself enough to know that you are hired because of your qualifications. It’s not because they took pity on an immigrant or need more diversity in the company. Prove yourself to your employers and colleagues. Pursue excellence in all ways and volunteer your skills and time for new projects. The language of success is the same in every country—you need to work hard and earn your place.

Being in a new country is difficult. Working in a new country with different colleagues, traditions, cultures, and languages is even harder. But if you’ve managed to survive the long process of migrating to another country, saying goodbye to all that is familiar to you, and hoping against hope that you made the right choice, then you can survive your first job as an immigrant.

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