Posted on September 2014 By Speller International
In a previous blog, we looked at the pros and cons of contracting, assuming there was available work in the city you lived in. What we didn’t consider was what happens when opportunities arise in a city other than the one you reside in? With cities along the eastern seaboard busy with new SAP projects, this month we focussed attention on the SAP Canberra market and all the benefits attached to working (and living) in our capital city. As a result of these new projects, a number of candidates have been asking us the benefits (and indeed drawbacks) of travelling interstate for work. So we thought who better to ask than some of our own contractors who are doing just that?
While it might be viable to move interstate for a permanent position, in most cases the commute is a better option when accepting a contract one. What we found when speaking to our contractors was that there were both benefits and challenges that needs to be managed. And some of those challenges depended very much on what stage of life (and career) the contractor was in.
For SAP ABAP Consultant Sunith DeSilva, based in Melbourne, the opportunity to work for a government department in Canberra was an attractive one. Government experience, which he hadn’t had in past, good contracting conditions coupled with limited contract options in Melbourne helped Sunith make the decision to take the 9 month contract. As a family man though, he says its hard to be away from home but he tries to fly back as many weekends as viably possible. He was grateful to have friends in Canberra when he first moved and says anyone considering working interstate should look into accommodation as soon as they’ve signed on the dotted line!
One SAP Change Training Manager who has travelled extensively for work sited the obvious benefit of career advancement, but also found that opportunities arose that normally wouldn’t, particularly in remote locations, purely because you were there on ground. Another big benefit was the travel, saying she would never have visited half of the locations she’s been to (global roles with constant international travel, an 18 month stint in a foreign capital) had it not been for work. Depending on your situation, sometimes a break from home is not always a bad thing in her opinion.
Paul Wright, SAP Business Analyst/ Training Manager also based in Melbourne travelled to Wellington, New Zealand for a contract role. He took it for two reasons; firstly the Melbourne market was relatively quiet at the time, and secondly it was to help out a previous manager he had worked with. Having enjoyed working with her on a similar contract in Melbourne, it was hard to say no and in a way they were helping each other out.
It gave Paul exposure to working in another country, with its slight culture differences and magnificent scenery. He had a great team to work with, gaining a whole new appreciation for New Zealand and its people, not only on the project, but the general public as well. And working on a major transformation project opened up future possibilities in his career both home and abroad – given he and his wife have a long term desire to do contract work throughout Europe on a working holiday, that experience was invaluable for his resume.
While some of the challenges such as being away from family/friends, loneliness, having to ‘fill in’ time over the weekends can be hard, these are offset by working with people who are in the same position, or people that you have worked with in past, so you can still have a good support system when you’re away. The SAP Change Training Manager found doing long hours at work helped keep her mind (and her time) occupied.
The biggest challenge presented by all of our contractors interviewed was the travel. With lots of down time at the airport, and on an international contract (or even across country) the time differences, while only a few ours, can play havoc on your body clock with the constant travel back and forth. Our contractors said they tried to use this time to catch up on phone calls and emails with family and friends (and maybe a few work ones too).
Sunith says being organised and booking flights early to save on cost and get a seat on a preferred flight helped. For a city like Canberra that has lots of in/out going visitors, especially at parliamentary sitting time, and limited flights (in comparison to say Sydney or Melbourne) being an early-bird definitely means getting that worm.
A Word of Advice
Advice offered by the SAP Change Training Manager was not to ‘scrimp’ on funds. Treat yourself to the best accommodation you can afford because it’s hard enough being away from your home base, or hire a cleaner if you’re doing the Mon-Fri away to help out with housework and washing. The point of getting home is to spend your few precious days with the people in your life that matter (more so than doing the laundry!).
Paul says discussing the offer with your family, partner and friends first is vital in weighing up the offer in totality to measure all the pros and cons of the move. You need to consider the benefits of both your career and finances for the immediate impact and the future. If there is no other real alternative, then focus on how to best make it work for you, by flying family or friends over, utilising the opportunity to sightsee and keeping up to date on Skype.
The undeniable benefit of travelling interstate was the career benefits. Canberra as the ‘Government’ capital provides extensive work across the full spectrum of government departments, Sydney holds the most company ‘head offices’ in the country and Perth provides access to the mining industry just to name a few. Contractors can expand not just on their technical/expertise, but on the industry experience they hold.
And you can’t forget the personal benefits of living in a new city – each of which around Australia and New Zealand offer their own unique lifestyles and sometimes a substantially better weather forecast.