The discourse on starting over a career as it relates to moving back to Africa is important because many folks from our African immigrant communities had contemplated the idea of moving back, and are concerned about jobs and careers. Some had planned, re-planned, de-planned, and then planned some more. It is a fact that Africa is growing, and many opportunities are budding.
Moving back for good is indeed trendy these days, and to many, it’s intriguing. To broaden perspectives, I decided to consult with the people who are planning to return soon. The key point I drew from them is to make sure you have a house of your own. It can be bought or built from scratch, but it shouldn’t have any mortgage on it. With this you don’t have to worry about paying mortgage or rent.
Before you pack up and leave, here are other thoughts to consider:
-Take time to explore what job you’d enjoy doing if you go back, and reach out to your contacts.
-If there are no contacts, and you believe your American experience in the field gives you a competitive advantage, send in a letter to the appropriate head of the establishment. Explain how you’ll be a strong addition to their bottom-line.
-Be persuasive, but more importantly, make it short and sweet. Go straight to the point. Reference a relevant story of your accomplishment and use figure/numbers if applicable. Resist the urge of telling ‘useful’ but irrelevant points such as how you helped America heal from recession or why you left Africa some decades ago unless where you are 100% sure these points will grab attention and will work to your strength.
-If no luck with that, keep trying. Some companies are looking for people who are trained in certain fields and want hire Africa foreign-born from America. Explore their websites and see if there is a fit.
-When negotiating salary, be reasonable. Don’t expect them to pay you the dollar worth of what you’ll earn in the US. At the same time, make sure this salary is within the range of a decent living status in that economy.
–Do your cost and benefit analysis regarding your investment here. Analyses on Social Security, Retirement, and Medicare benefits, to mention a few, are crucial. You want to know whether you are financially worse off or better off before you pack up and go. (Consulting an expert on this calculation is a good idea). Assign dollar value to everything including the value of all the alternatives you are foregoing to go live in Africa, and compare the same with the value of all your projections back home. Remember, feeling home sick is a value and you should assign to that some dollars as part of the benefit of going back to Africa.
–Do your risk analysis: (a): Have plan B in case you lose the job you were offered. (b): Be very careful starting your own business even if it’s a field you know too well. Remember, you know the trade, but you might not know the track if you haven’t been a part of that locals for years. Trust and loyalty are big in this context as your new environment, unlike the US, might still be up and coming in adjudicating and/or settling disputes. (c): Consider the value of money in the region i.e. inflation and what this means to your investment.
–The issue of safety is worth considering. Living large coupled with the perception that you might have access to ‘freely flowing dollars’ makes you a target to hoodlums. Be discreet. Use good judgment.
–Plan on paying your *taxes. In many African countries, people hardly pay taxes as we know it in America, but I’m sure you know what I mean by paying taxes. You’ve got to be ready to support families, friends, and the community somehow. Give to the poor, strengthen the weak, and put your soldiers down. You are one of them now, be a part of the people.
I’m sure there are more points I omitted. What more would you like to add? Have you moved back to Africa from the US? What could we learn from you? Please send in your comments/opinions.
This post concludes the series on Career Start Over. Thanks for reading all along.
I await your thoughts and contributions to keep the conversation going.