Global Career Roadmap: Letting a Sense of Adventure Guide You
Take a minute to think about your dream job. What does it look like? Working from home? Setting your own schedule? Taking summers off? Andrew Fernquist sought out adventure and new opportunities from a young age. This sense of adventure and willingness to go with the flow have helped him develop an amazing career that has taken him all over the globe.
Early interest in language and travel spurred Andrew to study French in high school and created a desire in him to travel and explore the world. This desire grew through college and when he was in his senior year, he decided to learn another language, Spanish, to open up more travel opportunities. Immediately after graduating with an International Business focus, he relocated and took a job teaching English in Spain and continued to learn Spanish for about a year. Andrew enjoyed helping English teachers in a K-5 environment but wanted to continue to set himself up for new adventures in his career so he enrolled in an International Business program.
After his studies, he pursued working in an international business environment. He got a job at Apple at a retail store in New Hampshire with the hopes of working internationally. Unfortunately, the retail store environment didn’t provide many opportunities to work outside of the United States or use his education to cultivate a global business career. In his free time, he began working with a photographer who connected him with a travel company, a tour operator where Andrew sold international trips. He was thrilled with the perks of receiving 2 trips every year and access to lower cost employee trips that were $900 for 2 people and all inclusive. While he enjoyed the work and it fulfilled his desire to travel, he preferred to find a position where he could live abroad.
Andrew’s first opportunity to live abroad as he had been dreaming of arrived when his tour company opened a new program in Cuba. He moved to Colombia and took people to Cuba for 2-week tours. As luck would have it, a prior connection had started working at Uber in Colombia and introduced Andrew to an opportunity at Uber. He was later hired full-time to help build out the company-wide intranet and a team who were looking after an implementation of Smartling, a localization technology tool. Slowly he began answering Smartling queries and getting deeper into the localization pipeline. He wondered how to make it easier for engineers and for translators to get their work done more efficiently. Andrew moved into a localization role at Uber, but there was no official team in place yet.
Andrew secured his localization role at Uber and helped build a formal localization team with 15-20 team mates, including localization program managers, tooling operation specialists and language managers. After leading the language management team for a little over a year, his sense of adventure and Wanderlust returned. With his deep experience in localization, he interviewed and was awarded a job at Google in Boulder as a Product Manager for Localization Solutions. Andrew attributes his successes to his early adventures, including career success and private life as he met his wife from a connection he had made way back when he had travelled to Spain after college.
What advice does Andrew have for people wanting to get into international careers? “Travel and gain experience while lining up some plans for the future.” He recommends getting extra skills, teaching English and being scrappy. “It won’t be linear," he says, "but that’s the best way to get out there.” If you are interested specifically in localization, Andrew points out that there are a lot of companies that need localization services. He recommends getting experience in smaller startups and getting technical training in localization tools and backend infrastructure.