Through our work, we continually see partners flourish when stepping away from traditional careers, exploring their passions and embracing opportunities, also without receiving a paycheck.
We call working without getting a paycheck ‘volunteering’, but nobody suggests working for a salary is ‘forced labour’, do they? In the end, all occupations are taken on voluntarily. Some come with a wage. Some don’t. Who can say which has more value?
I mention this as I recently had a discussion about the scope of our support program. The other party seemed surprised that we don’t only focus on supporting partners to find paid jobs, but that we also discuss alternatives, including volunteering, and other pathways. For that reason he was convinced we don’t acknowledge the importance of dual careers. But partners can feel like they’re doing valuable work without receiving a paycheck.
When in Singapore, while awaiting my work permit, I volunteered for the UNHCR and learned more from that experience than when receiving a salary. For quite some partners, a non-paid job is also an optimal solution. It allows them to share and gain knowledge while abroad. It helps to build a new network, learn the local language and integrate. It gives them the flexibility while enhancing their CV. Lastly, it can also enrich your life, which in my humble opinion is priceless.
Making an impact
My favourite example of an impressive ‘volunteer’ project from our community is En Classe, founded in 2007 by a Heineken expat partner. Thanks to their knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication, En Classe has been making a huge impact on the lives of many. It’s also given many expat volunteers a sense of purpose through the years.
All fulfilling occupations
Don’t get me wrong: if partners intend to find paid employment, and that’s indeed an option in the host location, we will enthusiastically support them to reach that goal, leveraging our extensive network of job search coaches. Still, we prefer to look at ‘work’ differently, as we are convinced that the ‘value’ of a job is not directly related to the size of a paycheck.
The gift of reinvention
Indeed, if an expat partner does not have to chip in for the mortgage, a wealth of opportunities open up. That’s why we explore alternatives with partners, discussing what drives them, what gives them energy. We do so because we support thousands of partners every year and we continually see that paid employment isn’t always possible and/or suitable. On that note, I refer you to the results of our 2019 survey on paid employment. If you haven’t yet seen it, let me know and I’ll personally send it to you!