Generation Y Expat Q and A with James R.C. Smith

How did you land your first international gig?

During my university degree I took part in an international student exchange program, which took me to Kansas City, Missouri for 11 months and I absolutely loved it. The long period abroad really opened my eyes to a life away from the UK. After graduating, I took an admin assistant position in a finance office, which I was instantly bored with. I applied for all the jobs that took my fancy, including a cruise ship Videographer position. They called me in for an interview and meeting which went fantastically. A couple of weeks later, I was filming tour excursions in Acapulco.

Working overseas – away from home, friends and family – has its ups and downs. What is the best experience when working overseas? Worst?

As long as you’re resigned to just going for it and not knowing what’ll come next, then you’ll have an incredible time. Working up to 13 hours a day, with no promise of time off can be daunting, but it rarely works out like that. A lot of my job would allow me to film on shore and take time off when I had the stock footage all looking great.

The worst experiences were the repetitive, yet crucial crew drills that we had to do every week. They were vital to make sure we all knew what to do in the unlikely event of something bad, but still.
The best times were all from meeting new people and making life-long friends. Working while travelling the world comes with it’s own adventures too. I’ve swam with Stingrays, climbed the mountain on Bora Bora, Skydived in Honolulu and had a surfing lesson in Maui.

For Generation Y, what are the barriers to working and living globally now? How can one overcome these?

Get a passport, apply and go.
There aren’t barriers any more. If you’re eager, hard-working and a great team-player, then there’s nothing holding you back.

In terms of the current global economic climate, do you think it has affected Generation Y mobility (in terms of gaining international experience)? If so, to what extent?

It depends on the industry you’d like to work in. If it’s the cruise industry, then they’re getting bigger and bigger and will always want new people.

What transferable skills or attributes does one need to work on to be mobile and global?

Obviously they’ll need the ability and proven experience of the actual job they’d like to do. If they’re going for a Photographer position, then have a portfolio of all the kinds of photos you’ll be taking, including portraits, travel and event work. Videographers, have a show-reel and be able to talk about projects where you’ve been working with the public at events.

Aside from the work experience, you’ll need to be eager to travel, be able to live and work with people for long periods. If you’re a hard-worker and can’t wait to explore the world, then go for it.

For someone who has just started looking into moving away to work overseas, what tips and advice do you have?

Do your research, read blogs and talk to people who have been there and done it. Make sure your passport has been renewed and take a camera and a diary. You’ll want to record everything.

Thanks James!

You can find out more about him on his blog at or follow his tweets at and James is also the Social Media Manager for Pure Genie Recruitment – go check them out!