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Old 21.01.2020, 13:22
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Is it possible to start your career over here?

Hi all,

I am a trailing spouse. Previous to coming to Switzerland, I worked in the performing arts in marketing. Needless to say, I enjoy a creative atmosphere where passion for your work is the main driver in your career.

Since I did not speak German when we moved here, I took work where I could. I ended up in a corporation where I did quite well and continue to do so, where I make more money than I ever imagined. Despite this, I am desperately unhappy. I am turning 40 next year and I really wonder is that all there is?

I have hired a job coach to help me get back into my previous work, but it is nearly impossible. I would have to speak at least 2 of the 3 Swiss languages and I don't see myself being able to do that easily in the near future. I am also out of the game and most arts organizations look at my CV with confusion.

I see the young people working in jobs that may not be my passion, but might be something that I will actually enjoy doing more than I do now. I need to feel some sort of fulfilment in my daily work. I know that they complete apprenticeship training when they are young, is this also available to old people like me? I see that almost all jobs require regular certificates etc., I have none as of this point besides a BA.

Thanks a lot for your advice!
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Old 21.01.2020, 13:46
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

Is there anyway that you could do what you used to do remotely? Set up as freelance or your own company and work for people/companies in the English speaking world, from here?
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Old 21.01.2020, 14:09
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Is there anyway that you could do what you used to do remotely? Set up as freelance or your own company and work for people/companies in the English speaking world, from here?
No I wouldn't think so, it was a very hands on role. Perhaps people might hire me on a "consulting" basis, but I never reached that high of a position. Non-profit organizations tend to not be able to afford consulting fees either...
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Old 21.01.2020, 14:20
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

Some careers just don't transfer, for whatever reason...edu, age, languages, area bound knowledge and experience, you name it.

I am impressed that your professional life did transfer, though, since you say you work and are paid well. There are so many posters and trailing spouses here who haven't been so lucky. So kudos!

Maybe you see your compromise as something that wasn't your choice? For somebody else? Own it, you did well. Praise yourself. I am praising you, just wanted to drop that down for you.

Things are not clear cut here, despite the fact that careers seem all precut and lined with particular degrees here. The system is quite adjustable. Coach should make you understand other skills and qualities, not just that one that is your dream one.

Ask them for alternatives. Network. Keep your job but interview those with non linear careers, copy them.

I think it is possible to change your career here. Fight for your integrity and be loyal to yourself. Be ready for discomfort and loads of adjustment. Break your assignements and obligations and overlap them. Then pick.
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Old 21.01.2020, 14:59
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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I would have to speak at least 2 of the 3 Swiss languages and I don't see myself being able to do that easily in the near future.
Well, that's precisely what a lot of the successful Swiss do out there. I work in consulting and the best people is bilingual in German and French. People that are not good at both have limited options, and that includes me.

If you manage to be successful with less effort than the locals, please share the recipe Otherwise, time to master the 2nd or 3rd Swiss language.

Last edited by Axa; 21.01.2020 at 15:10.
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Old 21.01.2020, 15:32
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Well, that's precisely what a lot of the successful Swiss do out there.
My daughter is finishing up the full time education part of her apprenticeship at present in the multimedia area and is looking at finding a position for the remaining four years of her apprenticeship.

Every company (MNC, National, etc) that comes to the school to meet with the kids (well young adults) expect they speak either German or French at C2, the other at C1 and English at C1. And actually most of the kids have all three at C2.

It surprised me that even The Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport requires civilian staff to be very competent in all three languages. According to her, their presentation was very cool and many of the kids have it as their preferred employer.
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Old 21.01.2020, 15:43
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

Do you want it enough to learn the required 2-3 languages?

If not, is there something you could do as a hobby instead and move part-time in your current role?
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Old 21.01.2020, 16:23
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Do you want it enough to learn the required 2-3 languages?
Yes, but I don't think it would be possible to learn the 2-3 languages simultaneously. My brain doesn't have the capacity. By the time I could become fluent, I would be almost 50...

Sometimes you just have to accept the facts of life and accept the blessings you have and make the most of it. Not an easy lesson...hope to find my way. I was happy doing what I didn't enjoy doing because that meant we weren't broke anymore, but that feeling is rapidly going away & I feel completely and utterly lost. After a cancer diagnosis (easily fixed with surgery) and a few close deaths in the family, I just find myself regularly saying there is more to life than money. At least I have the blessing of making money, while so many struggle.

Thanks all for your kind advice! Much appreciated.
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Old 21.01.2020, 16:48
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Yes, but I don't think it would be possible to learn the 2-3 languages simultaneously. My brain doesn't have the capacity. By the time I could become fluent, I would be almost 50...

Sometimes you just have to accept the facts of life and accept the blessings you have and make the most of it. Not an easy lesson...hope to find my way. I was happy doing what I didn't enjoy doing because that meant we weren't broke anymore, but that feeling is rapidly going away & I feel completely and utterly lost. After a cancer diagnosis (easily fixed with surgery) and a few close deaths in the family, I just find myself regularly saying there is more to life than money. At least I have the blessing of making money, while so many struggle.

Thanks all for your kind advice! Much appreciated.
obviously learning multiple languages is daunting. but i believe anything is achieveable if we want it enough that we put in the time and work. however, time and energy is a limited resource and so in reality we need to weigh up those costs against the other things we want. Which is why I find the question "how much do I REALLY want this?" to be an important one to ask and answer honestly.
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Old 21.01.2020, 16:59
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Yes, but I don't think it would be possible to learn the 2-3 languages simultaneously. My brain doesn't have the capacity. By the time I could become fluent, I would be almost 50...
According to your profile you already have some French and German, so you wouldn't be starting from scratch. You could try and find a course at your level - if you feel that both at the same time is too much then just start with one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained
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Old 21.01.2020, 17:03
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Hi all,

I am a trailing spouse. Previous to coming to Switzerland, I worked in the performing arts in marketing. Needless to say, I enjoy a creative atmosphere where passion for your work is the main driver in your career.

Since I did not speak German when we moved here, I took work where I could. I ended up in a corporation where I did quite well and continue to do so, where I make more money than I ever imagined. Despite this, I am desperately unhappy. I am turning 40 next year and I really wonder is that all there is?

I have hired a job coach to help me get back into my previous work, but it is nearly impossible. I would have to speak at least 2 of the 3 Swiss languages and I don't see myself being able to do that easily in the near future. I am also out of the game and most arts organizations look at my CV with confusion.

I see the young people working in jobs that may not be my passion, but might be something that I will actually enjoy doing more than I do now. I need to feel some sort of fulfilment in my daily work. I know that they complete apprenticeship training when they are young, is this also available to old people like me? I see that almost all jobs require regular certificates etc., I have none as of this point besides a BA.

Thanks a lot for your advice!
So after all these years you still think of yourself as a "trailng spouse "?
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Old 21.01.2020, 17:11
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

What about starting with seriously learning German? Set yourself a high-but-reasonable goal for the end of the year (B2?), fight for it and see how it goes.

Then you'll reassess.

Worst case scenario, you'll find that have worked on something new for a year and you have better chances to find a more stimulating job
There is a chance that the following step is what you would like it to be right now, but many other things can also happen.

I wish you all the best in your search!
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Old 21.01.2020, 18:46
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

Also related. The successful people I've met, well...they don't have much beyond a fulfilling professional career. Trade-offs, opportunity costs, whatever you name them, they're ubiquitous and unscapable. There's some happiness is not being the best at anything special but being good enough for family, friends, hobbies, the job, etc.
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Old 21.01.2020, 19:37
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

Can you volunteer on the weekends? It sounds like being around creatives might recharge your batteries. Might also open some doors.
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Old 21.01.2020, 21:02
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

You asked about apprenticeships and whether they are available to adults. Yes, definitely.

The tuition (typically one or two days per week, sometimes a week-long block) is in the local language. Also, as work the on-the-job training correlates with the course-work, so you need to be putting the terminology to use correctly, so the work itself must be in the same local language.

Apprenticeships are 3 or 4 years long, during which time the monthly salary starts at roughly Fr. 900 and creeps up slowly to perhaps Fr. 1'300. Therefore, to do an apprenticeship you need to have saved enough or have someone else cover your living expenses for those years.

For an employer, it is a huge advantage to have a trainee who already brings with them real working experience, so they then don't have to put so much effort into training work ethic and systems.
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Old 21.01.2020, 23:27
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

you can certainly apply for apprenticeships.

But your income will take a serious hit, so if your husband hasn't increased his income over the years, you might be broke again as you said.

That said, you'd need enough german to go to school, do tests, write etc. (or french if you can commute to a romand area).

So I guess improving your german is something you can start now and will serve a purpose regardless.
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Old 22.01.2020, 07:56
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Re: Is it possible to start your career over here?

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Can you volunteer on the weekends? It sounds like being around creatives might recharge your batteries. Might also open some doors.
Yes, we recently moved to Bern where there is a great music scene...speaking to someone now. Fingers crossed! I’ve been able to volunteer lightly by walking shelter dogs & packing clothes and toiletries to refugee camps. One of the problems with living in such a wealthy country is that the local volunteer options are rather limited. I would like to visit and speak with older people who are lonely, but Swiss German is really needed. I can speak enough, but a deep conversation would be hindered. I do however find they just want someone to listen to them, even if you don’t completely understand them. I’ve had little old ladies walk up to me on my street and I just nod my head, ja, genau! Hehe

My husband and I have talked about returning to a limited income. It would mean a great deal of changes in our lives which we aren’t afraid of. Good to know an apprenticeship is an option. There are just days (like yesterday) where I physically feel like I can’t continue in this awful corporate life anymore, like my body will just give out and I can’t function. I’ve been sick so many times this year & that’s not normal for me. Perhaps I just need to find a better environment and team, I’ve found it before. I’m lucky to be in the pursuit of happiness.

I’ve blocked 30 minutes each day to go into a meeting room to study my German, step 1 down.

Thanks all for your kind advice, EF can be a great place. Have a nice day!
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