Switching Careers to Become a Digital Nomad

Switching Careers to Become a Digital Nomad

What is a digital nomad you may ask? Basically, digital nomads are flexible workers who view the world as their office. And if that sounds too pretentious for you, look at it this way: a digital nomad is an independent worker who uses technology to work remotely, from anywhere in the world.

Oscar Waterworth

Grow in Dog Years


After many years of traveling, living abroad, and continually challenging myself to try new things, something I've realized is that, it’s not traveling that I truly enjoy; its personal growth that comes with getting outside of your comfort zone. Why? Because when we travel time becomes distorted. One day in a foreign country can forever change the way that you think about life. One week trekking through the amazon, or taking a road trip will often be more impressionable on you than a year in university. A few months working abroad can forever shape what you want out of your career and your life.

I believe that anytime someone puts themselves outside of their comfort zone, it leads to an accelerated hyper growth; what I now refer to as “growing in dog years”. In the same way that a dog theoretically ages 7 years in a year, I believe that when we travel, try new challenging things, and get outside of our comfort zones, we grow at a more rapid pace; we grow in “Dog Years”.

You see, when we get outside of our comfort zones and try new things, we realize that time is not created equally. When time is maximized, and we pack as many overwhelming experiences into a short period of time, we grow at an accelerated rate because, quite simply, we experience more. The more that you experience, the more that you grow.

This is why when we return home from our travels it is so hard to relate to our friends. So much has taken place for us in the last year, but for them their lives have remained essentially the same. They might have a new job, or a new girlfriend/boyfriend, but in reality their lives haven’t changed much throughout the course of that last year. They haven’t experienced the same intensity and acceleration of growth because quite simply, they haven’t experienced as much.

In my opinion, it is simply because you have grown more than they have in that same year. You have had more experiences. You have learned more things. You have widened your perspective in a way that they haven’t. So you are literally no longer at the same points in your life, you have accelerated your own growth and are now years ahead of where they are. In the same year that they grew only one year, you have grown probably 3-4x what they have.

Have you ever been in a position where you look back at the last 6 months and say to yourself, “I feel like the last six months have passed by in the snap of a finger, but at the same time so much has happened and it feels like an eternity ago!” This happens because you packed new experiences into your life, which made time pass by seemingly fast, but these experiences also accumulated at an insanely fast pace, making it seem like an eternity has passed. It’s quite the contradictory feeling.

I look at it like “hacking time”. If you want to get the most that you can out of your life, your goal should be to pack in as many new experiences as you possibly can into every year. If you look back on the last year of your life, how many new things did you try? How many impressionable events can you name? How many times did you take a new trip somewhere? How hard did you push yourself at work? How many new skills did you pick up? The more things you can list out, the more that you have grown.

Take something like Vipassana meditation for example. Although it might be a mere ten days long, in those ten days you will experience years of personal growth because it is such a novel and challenging experience. When you come out, you have grown more in the last ten days than your friends who didn’t do it with you.

Unfortunately, I also think that it’s necessary to touch on hardship, because hardship has a way of manipulating time, but in a bad way. Hardships and struggle have the potential to cause adverse growth. They have the ability to debilitate people and slow life down.

Hardships have a tendency to debilitate people. Something bad happens, and we sit in our rooms and sulk. We stop working. We stop moving forward. We stop growing. Months can pass in this way. Have you ever had a friend go through a failure and take months to get over it? Or a friend who broke up with a girlfriend/boyfriend and they take a year to get over it? Or, in the worst case scenario, the death of a family member? Situations like these have the ability to slow or entirely halt your growth, and it is important to be cognizant of this.

Hardships and struggle have the potential to either debilitate or motivate, and it is up to us with how we handle these hardships. We can either use them as an opportunity to grow, or a time to recess. Am I saying that if something bad happens ignore it and keep moving? Absolutely not. I am instead saying that with every struggle comes an opportunity for growth, and in the end it’s up to you how long you let that struggle knock you on your ass, or get back up and keep fighting.

Where positive experiences speed life up and cause one to say “time flies when you’re having fun”, negative experiences have the ability to slow life down and make it seem like it passes forever. Have you ever noticed that when you are in a bad mood the day seems to pass by incredibly slowly? Or remember back to those days of sitting in a classroom and staring at a clock waiting for time to pass, and then you go outside for recess and it feels like you didn’t get enough time to play? Funny how time becomes distorted depending on our mindset and how we are perceiving our experience of said time.

This is why it is so important to schedule things into your year that will have the maximum impact on your growth. This is why it is so important to choose a challenging career path, travel and work abroad when the opportunity arises, and jump at novel experiences every time you get the chance. It’s like the phrase “getting the best bang for your buck”, but instead I look at it as, “get the most shine for your time” ;) (ok ok I’m working on it!)

Time is not created equally. It’s up to you how you spend your time on this planet, and how fast or slow you want to grow. You have the ability to grow like everyone else, or grow in dog years. Personally, I choose to get the most out of every day that I am here on this planet and grow in dog years, and I encourage everyone else to do the same :)

Why You Should Consider Working Abroad After Graduation


toryGuest post: My name is Troy Erstling, founder of BrainGain. Throughout my life I’ve visited over 20 countries and I’ve lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Seoul South Korea, and now Bangalore, India. These last five years of traveling have changed my life in countless ways, and I can confidently say that seeking out international opportunities has enabled me to carve out a unique path in life. I believe that traveling is the greatest form of education, and it is my passion to help others do the same. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to live and work abroad. The idea of traveling the world and getting paid to do it has always appealed to me and making a career out of it seemed even more appealing. After graduating from high school in Manalapan, NJ I moved across the country to The University of Arizona in Tucson to obtain a degree in International Studies.

My junior year of college I had the opportunity to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was my first time out of the country and it was a reckless adventure filled with steak, yerba mate tea, wine, paragliding, a pathetic attempt to learn Spanish, and some of the greatest nightlife on earth. I made lifelong friends that I travel with to this day. It was the greatest study abroad experience I could've ever asked for.

During my time there a friend told me about Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Turns out, if you are looking to get international experience and work abroad, this is usually the best way to get your foot in the door. I was sold.

After graduating from University I made it my sole mission to get a teaching job abroad. I stayed in Tucson for an extra 2 months to get my TEFL certification and I began researching the best destinations to teach English.

I eventually came across South Korea; paid round trip airfare, housing, medical insurance, attractive salary, and $2000 severance pay. Compared to the other options it was a no-brainer. I searched for jobs on websites like Dave’s ESL café, and within a few short months and a long visa process, I had my job and a one-way ticket to Seoul.

I spent the next year in Seoul, South Korea teaching English to 7-year-old kindergarten students. It was amazing. I got paid to act like a child all day and teach my kids about Michael Jackson and The Beatles. I was able to save around $10,000USD (roughly about $1000/month in savings), and had three amazing trips to Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines for my vacations. It was an unforgettable experience, but I knew I didn't want to be a teacher for the rest of my life...

Around the time my contract in Korea was winding up, I reached out to a friend of mine whom I met while studying in Argentina. He had also been teaching English, but in Spain instead. Turns out, he was no longer in Spain and had been living in India for the past ten months on a fellowship in Social Enterprise.

I looked up the fellowship and it seemed like a great way to transition my career while continuing my pursuit of creating a career abroad. It was a win-win. There were 20 days left to apply, so I submit my application and hoped for the best.

At that point my options were to take the fellowship, and if I didn’t get in go backpack the world. Win-win, but one seemed better for the overall career.

I was accepted to the fellowship and placed in Bangalore, India. My friend from Argentina also successfully applied for the position of Field Coordinator and was placed in Bangalore as well!

For the next year I lived in Bangalore, India studying entrepreneurial ecosystems in Southeast Asia with The National Entrpreneurship Network and worked for one of India's most promising startups, Zoomcar.

Throughout that time I had a lot of people reaching out to me about working abroad. I had friends from the US reaching out to me saying, “I’m 3-4 years out of school, I still do 200 cold calls a day, my job doesn’t give me responsibility, I would love to work abroad…what are my options?” Then I also had friends from South Korea who would say to me “I want to continue working abroad but I don’t want to teach English anymore…what are my options?”

One day it dawned on me that if you want to work abroad after graduation, your options are limited to teaching English and volunteer work. Trustworthy career relevant opportunities are few and far between. But here I was, living and working abroad with one of India’s most promising startups. I felt that other people would want something similar.

With that in mind I quit my job and made helping people find jobs abroad my full time job. I approached startups and social enterprises in Bangalore asking, “Would you be interested in hiring talent from abroad?”, “What positions are you currently having a hard time hiring for that you feel someone from abroad might be able to fill?”, “What are you willing to pay these candidates?”, etc.

Six months later I started my first company, BrainGain. I have lined up 15 companies in Bangalore, India that are looking to hire everything from sales and marketing, to design, to tech. Early stage startups that are Seed or Series A funded and are willing to provide fresh graduates with more responsibility than they are able to handle.

It is my first serious entrepreneurial plunge and I couldn’t be more excited to do it. There is nothing in life that I am more passionate about, and nothing that excites me more than to help others find ways of exploring an international career. When I get on a phone call with someone and tell him or her about the ways that they can live and work abroad I feel like I drank a double espresso. It’s invigorating!

As I write this I am on a train to Boston to speak at Harvard University. To think that 5 years after my travels have began I would be back in the states speaking at universities inspiring students to travel and work abroad absolutely blows my mind. I couldn’t be happier with where my life has come throughout that time.

This is a field I foresee myself spending the rest of my career. It is something that I will dedicate myself to for years to come, and I couldn’t be more excited to watch my life unfold in this sector. It is my niche.

Guest post by Troy Erstling @troyerstling