The 5,600-Mile Career Step: How a Taiwanese Developer Took an iOS Job in Europe

by Maria April 18, 2019

Whenever we track down one of the high-powered, expectation-defying Jobbatical members who use our platform to extend their careers beyond conventional paths, we get giddy with excitement. And this story is no different. Our spotlight today is on IFang Lee, a developer from Taiwan who took an iOS job in Europe and now works at a software design and engineering company in Prague.

Having lived in the Czech Republic once before, IFang knew she wanted to go back for seconds. “I had been an exchange student in Czechia’s second-largest city, Brno, for a year,” she says. “During that time, I went traveling around Europe. I like to explore and learn new things. That’s why I wanted to work abroad. To broaden my horizons and live like a local.”

Once she snagged the job on Jobbatical, IFang’s first four months working at STRV were remote. After that, she packed up her life and moved to Central Europe for the second time in her life. No longer a student, but a fully-fledged iOS developer with solid experience under her belt. And with a whole new world to discover, both professionally and personally.

“Finally, I had the chance to meet my colleagues in person,” she recalls of the move. “I joined the events, parties, and team building at STRV. And although I hadn’t made local friends yet, I had an amazing time with my colleagues in an awesome office!”

Having pizza in the office with her favorite recruiter Barbora. Photo courtesy of STRV

Living like a local takes work

Before IFang got properly settled in Prague and started living the life she’d dreamed of, she had to clear the usual roadblocks. “Looking for accommodation and Czech food have been the biggest challenges,” she says.

What’s the deal with finding a place to live in Prague? “It’s extremely difficult because there are a lot of foreigners here for study and work,” IFang has the scoop.

“Basically, it depends on the landlord or flatmates, if they would like to rent to you. Before you visit a place, you have to introduce yourself and try to impress them. Not like in Taiwan, where you’re able to visit many places and make a decision.”

Now a seasoned veteran of apartment-hunting in Prague, IFang has a couple of tricks up her sleeve to share with newbies. “In my personal experience, there are two tips,” she reveals. “The first is showing interest in the place if you really like it. The second is bringing a deposit with you and paying it right after your visit.”

And the food? “The food here is heavier than Asian food,” IFang says. “In winter, I always go to a Vietnamese restaurant to eat pho.”

Aside from practical issues, the emotional toll of moving is perhaps most obvious from how much IFang is missing her dog Sugar, who had to stay behind in Taiwan. “But our office is pet-friendly,” she says. “So as a dog person, seeing dogs in the office is really therapeutic.”

Office dogs Šiška and Molly (left) doing their best to fill the void left by IFang’s dog Sugar (right) who had to stay in Taiwan. Photos courtesy of STRV / IFang Lee

A non-stop learning experience

All in all, moving to Prague has been a journey of massive personal and professional growth for IFang:

Fearlessly dealing with paperwork in a government office despite speaking no Czech? Check.

Gaining more confidence in her work? Check.

“It’s really amazing to me,” IFang sums up her entire experience with her employer STRV. “The office itself really surprised me. There are two floors. One is for work, and the other has a bar and gym. Also, there are different kinds of sports lessons to help us relax.”

And, occasionally, laser tag. Photo courtesy of STRV (find IFang in the front row, first on the right)

But as fun as the office perks are, they’re definitely not the main reason IFang is happy with her decision to move to Prague. What’s had the biggest impact is the support network she has found, 5,600 miles from home.

“The people at STRV are all creative and energetic,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot of technical knowledge from my team. They always have the best solutions, and they give me lots of support in my professional and personal goals. My colleagues don’t judge or blame me when something goes wrong. Instead, they patiently help me.”

The cultural exchange has been worth it, too. “I share Asian culture, tea, and snacks with the team,” IFang says. In return, she’s found herself immersed in a culture she’d already fallen in love with as a student. “I love the picturesque historic architecture, the romantic castles, the Charles Bridge, the fascinating streets, and the charming nature,” IFang says of her new home base.

The iconic Charles Bridge in Prague, famously considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Photo by Adisa via Shutterstock

And who could have imagined that it would take moving to Europe for this Taiwanese developer to visit a conference in Japan for the first time? “This year STRV sent me to try! Swift in Tokyo,” IFang says. “It was my first conference and it was stunning!”

Every interview makes you stronger

Getting to this point in her life and career was a journey IFang urges everyone to take. “I highly recommend Jobbatical to those who want to work abroad,” she says. “I had a really good experience finding a job on Jobbatical. Even when I got turned down, the recruiters told me the reason, instead of a canned message. And the most important thing is that Jobbatical shows if the company will sponsor your visa.”

IFang’s final advice?

“Once you feel ready, apply for the positions you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid of being turned down. You will be stronger after every interview.”

Whether you’re burning out, feeling stuck in your career, or just ready for the next big thing, Jobbatical will give you easy access to top employers around the world.

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