Working in Moscow

Learn what it’s like to be an expat living and working in Moscow, Russia, from Malcolm Constable of Boston, Massachusetts.

Did you go through a work abroad program or figure it out yourself? Why did you do it that way? How did you decide where you wanted to go?

No program. I knew that I wanted to go to Moscow because I loved the history, culture, and language of Russia, as well as the idea of working in an emerging economy with tons of existing human and natural resources.

I was also attracted by the idea of doing something different than my peers, working extensively abroad, and testing my resiliency to the unknown.

What was your job in Moscow? Did you like it? Plusses and minuses?

I worked as a junior consultant for a Russian firm. I wore many hats, as it was my first real job after college. I did a lot of market research, editing (I was an English major) and writing of white papers. My job turned into more of a public relations role as I was the liaison between our firm and the Communications company we used for our oil / gas and intellectual property rights clients. It was great working for a Russian company because people actually spoke a lot of Russian in the office. My language skills grew a great deal. The only really bad thing about my job is that increasingly each day, I noticed that the way people were doing business was shall we say…ethically gray?

What was your accommodation overseas? How did you find it? How was it?

The son of the CEO of the consulting firm where I had previously interned was head of asset management for a Russian investment bank. He was my contact in Moscow. I lived with him and his family for the first two months while I found a job and my own apartment. He introduced me to many of the ‘right people’.

How about transport? Did you buy a car? Use public transportation? How did you organize your initial flight?

Moscow has a phenomenally beautiful and efficient metro system so I had no need for a car. I bought my flight online, and got my visa through a NYC based private transit company.

What did you think of your job abroad experience overall? What did you gain from it? What were the best/hardest parts?

I could easily write a novel trying to answer these questions, but I will just say that it was a life altering experience that I would not give up for the world. To a certain extent I had to start my business career over when I returned to the States, because one has to earn one’s stripes in the western world before being accepted as a competent business person. The business and communication skills I learned were dwarfed by the growth I experienced internally.

When I arrived at Sheremetova in the north of Moscow my flight was 4 hours late, my ride had long since left, I didn’t speak the language, and there were a two dark Russians getting cuffed and thrown into the back of a tinted BMW. I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. After 20 months in Moscow I returned home unafraid of taking on new things.

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