Working abroad: from Salford to Abu Dhabi

Alumni Lorna relaxing in the sun
Salford Business School alumna, Lorna

June is an exciting time – exams are over and it is the end of your course – time to rest and plan ahead. Are you one of those students who has finished your course and now looking forward to your new job, further study or even starting your own business?

I graduated from the University of Salford in 2011, in Business and Marketing Management. I had been working abroad for one last summer season in Ibiza running a kids holiday club before I entered the real world of work.

When I came back to the UK that autumn, it was a bit of a struggle to find a job. The economic downturn made a number of organisations more cautious in terms of recruiting new graduates.

I had surprised myself by achieving first in my degree and I had taken on various work experience placements throughout my time at university.  However, despite being an ’employable’ graduate, the odds were stacked against me with the economy still in the early stages of recovery. Jobs were sparse and competition was fierce.

So, what did I do to get my dream job in Abu Dhabi where I am now?

Being proactive

When I returned to the UK, I decided to be proactive and start an IT course.  I also approached a Manchester-based SEO agency called PushON and asked whether I could undertake an internship with the company.  PushON agreed to taking me on and this provided the perfect opportunity for me to develop new skills and gain some more professional work experience.  I think the internship also showed initiative and commitment in terms of carving out my career path.

Not long after I completed my internship, a large media agency snapped me up and I began working with a digital display team on a temporary contract.  From there, I moved to Bupa Health and Wellbeing, and I was based in Salford Quays working with their eCommerce Team, again in a temporary contract.   I was keen to land a permanent role, so I always kept one eye open for new opportunities.

Working abroad

Having spent my university summer breaks working abroad as a rep on campsites across Europe, I knew that one day, I wanted to make a more permanent move to sunnier climes.  However, I had always thought that that opportunity wouldn’t be available until I had a few years of work experience under my belt.

Nevertheless, I scoured expat recruitment sites and kept in touch with friends who lived overseas.  I got as far as a Skype interview with a Dutch company who were looking for a digital marketer, but they eventually turned me down on the grounds that they thought I might not commit to living and working abroad.

Creating my own opportunities

I booked a flight to visit my friend who I’d met during my time at the University of Salford.  She had graduated a couple of years earlier than me and had moved out to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Although we’d stayed in touch, we hadn’t spoken about work and it was then I asked her about what she did.  During an email exchange she told me about her current marketing role working abroad at Global Medical Solutions, a hospital management company.  She explained how it was a great role but she was planning to leave as she wanted to move into the advertising industry. Somewhat cheekily, I asked if she would mind passing my CV to her boss.

Photograph of Abu Dhabi waterfront
Abu Dhabi waterfront – photograph courtesy of Shenli Leong


My trip to Abu Dhabi came and went.  I didn’t hear anything from my friend’s employer and my circumstances remained the same.  Not one to still and wait, I decided to book a weekend trip to the UAE.  I took the opportunity to get in contact with my friend’s employer in UAE and I asked whether I could have an interview.  They agreed and two weeks later, the job was mine.

18 months later

I am still working with the same company to this very day.  I went from working for Bupa, which is a very large organisation where I was tasked with managing a very specific part of their digital presence, to being a one-woman marketing team working for Global Medical Solutions.

I do everything from events and exhibitions, social media management, content writing, website management and developing a marketing strategy, to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement schemes.

My job gives me the variety I had always craved and I’ve fallen in love with Abu Dhabi. If I could give a piece of advice for new graduates, it would be to go out and make it happen. Opportunities rarely land on your lap.

You can do it!

If you have a goal in mind, do everything you can to open new doors, even if it might seem futile or insignificant. The smallest efforts may just lead to a life changing opportunity.

If you are also one of our Salford Business School alumni and would like to share your stories on our blog, contact Salford Business School via our social media channels or use our enquiry form.