Secondments

BDO International

BDO delivers assurance, tax, financial advisory, and consulting services to clients around the globe. We serve publicly traded domestic and international clients through 16 industry-specific practices, world-class resources, and an unparalleled commitment to meeting each of our client’s unique needs in the constantly evolving business landscape. Our global network extends across more than 150 countries, with over 60,000 people, working out of more than 1,300 offices.

That’s a lot of numbers, but it all boils down to this: BDO is a large, international organization committed to delivering exceptional client service.

Exceptional Opportunities, Around the World.

Our secondment program gives eligible employees the unique opportunity to work in a foreign country. By participating in one of these temporary international assignments (usually 3-24 months), you’ll further develop your professional skills while deepening your understanding of international business, multinational companies, and the diverse cultures in which they operate.

Secondment Q&A

Julian Snow | Assurance ManagerJulian Snow
Atlanta, GA / Zurich, Switzerland

After four years working in BDO Atlanta, Julian was ready for a change. So he packed his bags and headed to Zurich, Switzerland for a European adventure he’ll never forget.

Q: What made you want to pursue a secondment opportunity?

A: After four years of high school, four years of college, and four years in Atlanta, it was time to try something new. And since I had never studied abroad, I really wanted to experience Europe. My only requirements for my secondment country were that it was across the pond and English-speaking. Zurich was a perfect fit.

Q: What was the application process like? 

A: Some offices will post a particular need. For other offices, like Zurich, you have to apply directly. Then there’s a process for visas and all the logistics. You can do three months, six months, 18 months, or a two-year secondment at BDO. Lots of options.

Q: How long have you been in Zurich?

A: The Zurich office required an up-front commitment of two busy seasons, which is 18 months. But now I’m extending my stay for another year, at least. My mom is upset I’m not back in the States, but I can’t imagine leaving yet!

Q: Did BDO help throughout the visa and relocation process?

A: Absolutely. BDO has a whole department dedicated to global mobility, with people here who will help with everything, connect you to who you need to connect with, and answer all your questions. They helped me tremendously during my process.

Once I got to Zurich, my receiving office helped me find an apartment and get settled. They paid for the first month of rent, as well as for my flight and moving expenses. After that, it was up to me to decide if I wanted to stay in that apartment or find something else. Initially I chose to stay, since the real estate market is so competitive in Zurich. I just found a new place in a neighborhood I love and will be moving there soon.

Q: What’s life like in Zurich?

A: I’m never leaving Western Europe, it’s the greatest. Zurich is a beautiful city. It’s slower than some other major European cities, but there’s a lot happening with all the finance and big businesses in large industries here. I’m originally from Louisville and spent a lot of time in Atlanta, so it’s amazing to me to have trains that run everywhere and are always on time. The people here are very friendly and welcoming, everyone speaks English for the most part, so it’s really easy to get by. I’m comfortable getting around and I have my favorite coffee shop, my favorite park, my favorite everything.

Q: Have you been able to travel outside of Switzerland?

A: It’s so easy to get around Europe, to take a train or fly to other places. For someone like me, who had never been anywhere, and who wanted the chance to not only live in a different city but also travel a bit, it’s the best of both worlds. I’ve been to London too many times to count, I love Greece, I’ve visited Spain and Scotland. I really loved the trip I took to Krakow, and I’ve done some hiking in France, which was amazing – I’m actually on my way back to Paris this weekend. Next on my list is Copenhagen, hopefully sometime soon.

Q: Why is it important to get international business experience?

A: There are a lot of professional benefits to working abroad. Maybe the most important is the contacts. You’ll get the opportunity to meet so many people, and expand your network around the world. You get to experience a new way of living, and experience a work/life balance that’s entirely different from the States.

You also get to learn how different people approach and think about different issues.  When I’m looking at a problem or a difficult memo, the questions I get asked here are not what I would get back home. Being here has expanded my ways of thinking about and solving problems, which has been a great learning experience for me.

Q. What advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing a secondment opportunity during their career?

A. Focus on the opportunities, not on the fear of missing out on things back home. I’ll be honest, it’s terrible for the first month or so. You think, “It’s Saturday night, I have no friends here, everyone back home is having fun without me, etc.” But once you get into a groove, you’ll come to really, truly love it. So if you want to do a secondment, don’t talk yourself out of it. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.