My friend George asked me if I thought he could get a job in Mongolia and, even though I don't know anything about the jobs market in Mongolia I instantly replied: "of course you can."
Before explaining why I am so confident in my answer I would like to introduce George Pop, a Romanian friend of mine who recently started a company called French Revolution. He makes just one thing - éclairs - the best éclairs in Romania, each one of which is the result of the best ingredients in Europe and George's perfectionism.
What makes me so sure that George could get a job in Mongolia?
First of all George himself. He's friendly, charming, interesting and handsome - and these "first impressions" matter a lot when asking for a job. Secondly, he's an expert in one of the most specialised parts of the communication/advertising industry - namely branding - and I've only ever met one person who works in that domain. That tells me that these skills are rare and my assumption is that there would be at least one company in Mongolia who would appreciate these skills, probably an ad agency or multinational.
The main reason I'm confident that George could get hired in Ulan Bator is that it's an emerging capitalist economy which is booming due to its spectacular mineral wealth. The Daily Telegraph described it as the "Kuwait of Central Asia." They need people like George.
Not so long ago Mongolia was an impoverished satellite of the Soviet Union and the majority of the population were nomadic herdsmen - which is exactly what George wants to see once he gets established - but since adopting capitalism the remote nation is booming. According to that same Daily Telegraph article: "Much of the elite is savvy, Ivy League-educated and understands international business culture...Mongolia desperately needs foreign investment and know-how."
Assuming there are opportunities for skilled communicators like George, as well as people to work in their emerging tourism industry (he'd be a great barman at this awesome desert hotel) two big questions remain:
The first question is, would you really want to live in there? The newspaper article I quoted above says: "If there was a competition to find the ugliest city on Earth, then the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator would be the leading contender for the title. The combination of grim, Soviet-style concrete high-rises, rambling slum-shanties and towering coal-fired power plants belching out smoke over the city reeks of the depression and decay that was a legacy of decades of communist rule."
The answer to this question is easy: despite its ugly modern development Mongolia is still a vast grassland with a population of just over two million - and well worth exploring. Having a base in the capital city, with the possibility of exploring Mongolia, is a beautiful idea.
The second question is harder to answer: how would George go about getting a job in Ulan Bator? There may well be plenty of opportunities but how does one turn this into actual job offers? I can understand that this challenge can seem intimidating, scary and impossible. Where would one start? What about the language, work permits and all the other worries?
I don't have a specific answer to this question, and those fears, but I can offer some general advice: assume there are jobs, be determined and have confidence in yourself.
For me this challenge would be relatively easy as I have successfully looked for work in Austria, Bosnia, Romania and Tibet. But I do realise that most people don't have this experience and lack the confidence to go to the other side of the world and look for a job.
Two things helped me to get jobs abroad: my driving determination to get hired and my disregard for work permits; "in the unlikely event that they they catch me," I figured, "they might expel me and I don't really mind that."
Experience has shown me that it would be possible for me - and for George, and probably for you too - to get a job anywhere in the world. I might not be able to get a good job but any job will suffice if you're looking to make a base in a particular country. The real question is: where do you want to go?
You might also like to see this article: Introduction to Working Abroad.
This article was also published in my new travel blog