As an overseas volunteer for AAFSW, I want to promote and support EFM employment. Following the success of an EFM Employment Fair at another post, I thought Hanoi could benefit from this kind of EFM support. With the help of our amazing CLO office and our newly appointed Regional Global Employment Advisor, the first EFM Employment Fair in Hanoi took place in mid-January.
How did it happen? Armed with a great idea and a track record of proven success, I started talking to people in the Embassy community about how to make it happen here. Hanoi is fortunate to have a new, vibrant and hard-working Global Employment Advisor, Laura Sheehan. Laura recognizes the difficulty of EFM employment on the local economy because there is no bilateral agreement. With limited ability to work outside of the Embassy, EFMs in Hanoi must utilize non-traditional employment tools including portable career options and running home-based businesses.
Laura and I worked together to host an event that highlighted EFM businesses at post. We wanted to champion the successes of the EFMs in our own community. As we started talking through the list of potential participants, we realized our post does not have many EFMs with their own business. It was time to rethink and rework our approach. With my work at AAFSW, I know there are many EFMs around the globe who have started home-based businesses. Why not promote those businesses and use them as examples for EFMs in Hanoi wondering what they can do in a professional capacity? Plus, Laura had met interesting expats in Hanoi at various networking events. She pulled together experts in web design, online marketing and photography to talk about working in Hanoi, the pros and cons of working as an expat, and how to start your own business that can travel with you.
The EFM Employment Fair was widely advertised in the weeks leading up to the event. CLO helped get the word out through e-mails, a listing in post calendar of upcoming events and advertising in the post newsletter, The Bronze Drum.
The event drew in about 10 people. The Fair provided resources available to EFMs through AAFSW and GCLO and gave examples of EFM Businesses around the globe like American History in a Box, Essay Advantage, EFM Lawyer, Worldwide Speech and Fast Fitness to Go. Plus Laura was able to provide guidance about working in Hanoi and what post requires. It turned out to be a great roundtable discussion with real, concrete examples. Our marketing expert talked about how individuals should think about their passions, ask “what service can I provide?”, and assess who your audience/clientele would be. We had EFMs brainstorming and talking aloud about interests, next steps and most importantly, found lots of support from others in the room during this process.
This event was a great success that we hope to repeat in the future!
Lara L. Center
Overseas Volunteer for AAFSW
Photos: Laura Sheehan