Jan. 1, 2020, midnight

How I moved from South America to work as a software engineer in Europe

Living abroad is a dream shared among many people, luckily if you work in tech your chances of relocating to a new country are considerably higher. In the next paragraphs I will tell how I went thought this path.

Prelude

I born and lived in Brazil for my entire life, I had a comfortable job in a nice biotech company, in one of the best places to live in my country, but after 6 years working for the same company and 10 years living in the same city I decided that it was time for a big change. Since I wasn't unhappy with my job, moving to another company in the same region would - at best - be a medium change, so I aimed to another country.

The job hunt

My journey started in march of 2019 when I quit my job. At that time I was also doing some freelance work for a company in London, so I wasn't actually desperately looking for a new job yet. I moved to a small fishing community to do some kayak fishing between my freelance gig and my job hunt and to make my money last longer.

django-rest-framework browsable api ;)
despite doing some work it felt like a sabbatical

From March to August I applied for a total of 64 startups and caught hundreds of small snooks, my numbers:

  • 29 companies did not reply at all
  • 22 refusals without an interview, (mostly automated refusals...)
  • 13 initial interviews
  • 1 offer
  • 58 cm was my biggest snook

For the sake of curiosity, here are the number of emails I exchanged with the companies where I interviewed at least once:

CA  34
DK  31
UK  29
NL  17
US  11
ES  9
US  8
CA  6
US  5
DE  5
RU  4
AU  4
UK  4

A few things I learned in the process

Location

For some reason a few companies tought that I was living in London (probably due the freelance remote work I was doing for the company in there). Despite the fact of my contact information stating Brazil in my resume I was approached 8 times with questions like "are you in london right now?", "you are allowed to work in EU?", so I guess If I was actually living in EU I could have done more interviews.

Degree

I don't have a degree. I started studying physics in my 20's but completed only 1/3 of the course before I dropped out due work reasons. But in at least half of the interviews I was questioned about not having finished a degree and who knows how many companies disqualified me for not having one...

Language

If you have a nasty accent and limited vocabulary you will feel way more comfortable doing interviews for countries that are not english speaker, it's one of those obvious things that we don't think about, but can help you handle better the rejections and pick better the places to apply.

Cove letter

Write a cover letter. Talk about one particular job that you have done that you can relate with the company you are applying. It will increase your success rate and also be a topic during the interview process.

Conclusion

By mid July I got an offer from a company in Denmark and September first I started working here. The biggest takeaway I got from this experience is that your English don't need to be perfect and you don't need a CS degree. If you want to work abroad you need persistence, experience, something to show on github and a well written cover letter.

Fishing can help a little...

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