If you'd told me 5 years ago that I'd have a full-time writing job in Taiwan for a tech start-up I would have called you a good storyteller. At that point, I had only been to two countries. My original home, Colombia, and my second home, The United States.
Look at me now.
I've been working as the Content Marketing Strategist for a Taiwanese company in Taipei for a full year now. They expanded to the US, UK, Australia, and Canada, and then hired me to create content for those countries.
I've also traveled to 15 countries and learned how to speak, read, and write basic Chinese.
I'm unrecognizable. A whole new woman. Of course, it comes with its sacrifices and hardships, but we'll get to all of that.
How this all went down (at least the job part)
I was living in Vietnam teaching Spanish online during the week and teaching English at a school on the weekend. I was making good money but starting to feel frustrated because I really wanted to make money writing full time. I knew my writing experience was limited, being almost entirely academic and then blog-related (not too diverse!).
Still, I knew I could do it with the right efforts and opportunities.
I looked to move to Taiwan where the job market was better but the cost of living was low. I applied to 10 jobs a day for a month, had several interviews, and the same amount of "no's."
I decided to move to Taiwan anyway and enrolled in a Chinese school, studying Content Marketing online on the weekends. I had a goal to get a job and I knew I could level-up my skills to get it.
I think I've never been that determined in my life, honestly. The stakes felt higher than ever with me being so far from Colombia and with my freelance income shrinking during a low season.
Requirements to get a work visa in Taiwan
Requirements for a regular work visa:
- Bachelor's degree- diploma translated into English or Chinese
- Work permit- your company has to sponsor you for a work permit
- Medical check (you can do it when you're here)
- Employment letters proving at least 2 years' RELEVANT work experience with the same company. I had more than that but only one company I had 2+ years with that was actually writing experience. Unfortunately, my own blog didn't count.
I had to go back and forth with my company's lawyer who was really strict, he said my Literature degree wasn't a relevant degree, or that my script writing on YouTube wasn't relevant to Content Marketing, but thankfully the company let me work while I waited for the permit. In the end, the permit went through even with those factors.
Your Chinese requirements really depend on the job, but you're more likely to get hired to write in your native language, so Chinese will be a plus but not a must. For me, taking 3-6 months of classes is plenty but taking more will help you connect with your coworkers better.
Requirements for a job search visa:
These requirements are much more strict than those for a regular work visa.
- 5+ years of experience with work letters and proof of salary in your bank statements
- You'll have to prove that you made US 3,000 per month or so.
- You'll also have to have about US3,000-5,000 in your account when you apply.
I applied for this and got denied. So make sure you meet all the requirements to a tee.
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The turning point
It all changed when, after six months of Chinese lessons, I got a call from a job I'd applied to 9 months prior, while still in Vietnam! They wanted to know if I could come in for an interview, since they had a position available.
I met the CMO and Co-founder first. Then I had a follow-up interview with the executive team and though there were a lot of difficult questions I impressed them enough for them to hire me.
It was the first time an interview process hadn't involved a bunch of useless exercises where I'd "prove my skills" and essentially do a week's worth of free work just to get a door shut in my face. It felt like the beginning of a great relationship.
Preparing to land the job
I prepared by doing a deep dive into their US content. During the first interview, I lightly pointed out that their Amazon reviews were very low and they looked like they weren't very credible. Tact was key because I also didn't want to insult their efforts.
During the second interview, with the executives, I showed them slides of my previous work and showed them what I thought I could do with their blog's SEO, what I'd done with my own blog years prior- reaching a bounce rate of 1%.
I also showed them projects where I performed decently- though not perfectly- but I did it consistently for years. I showed them I was here to stay for a while and wouldn't flake on them.
That, I believe, was huge.
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The Thing About Taipei
There a few things to know about Taipei. Most foreigners are here to teach English. You have to be a "native speaker" i.e. have an English-speaking country's passport to do that. Others, have been sent from their own company to Taipei to work. Think: Semiconductors and other industries of the sort.
For more detailed information on what it's like living as an expat in Taiwan, you won't want to miss out on our expat guide to living in Taipei.
If you want to get a job to move here, you can look into those or come directly. Finding a job here is easier because the interview is more likely to go well in-person.
My job hasn't paid for any travel expenses but as they grow I think they'd consider flying in some people for the right job. For instance, they're now looking at expanding to other parts of Europe so they need native speakers. With COVID being the way it is, they'd consider hiring someone who'd move here for the job, I believe. Most jobs that aren't in teaching in Taiwan are in tech.
Updated job posts, as of November 23rd, 2020!
My company is currently looking to hire and sponsor people for the following positions. The countries in parentheses mean that the market audience is in that country so they want applicants to have some connection to that country, but they want people to work at the Taipei office. The intern position is quite low-pay, I think it's about 150 NTD per hour but the other positions are very decent pay:
*E-Commerce Manager (Europe)
*E-Commerce Manager (Japan)
*Marketing Intern (US, EU & JP)
*User Acquisition Manager/ Specialist (Paid Media)
How it's going
I've learned more this past year working in Taipei than I could have ever learned in courses. This is exactly what I wanted when I applied. The job provides me with security (money and visa-wise) and so much knowledge that I feel really lucky to have them.
A year and a half after my desire to switch careers to writing full time, it came true and in a place where I feel accepted. While there's no formal training on the job, there's a lot of rubbing elbows with experts in their field and I'm able to ask questions and learn so much- including Chinese! I thought working full time I'd stop learning, but really my listening comprehension is much better
Don't ask me to speak though, lol.
Now I'm really grateful to my company and to Taiwan for giving me a chance. It's not easy to make it as a Colombian or Latin American outside of our continent. We have to work harder, be better, and sometimes settle for a lower wage just to get our foot in the door. Taiwan finally saw me in 2019 after I'd visited 3 or 4 times with no luck.
When the time is right, everything comes into place. You just need to work knowing that something's gotta give and it will.