I have only been fired once. My then boss had a litany of reasons for wanting rid of me that she had wrapped up in a bow-shaped accusation that I was bringing down the morale of the team. We’d just had a major success. Everyone else was jumping up and down with excitement, breaking out the bubbly. Me? I reacted in true Irish fashion with a quiet ‘That’s grand. Now, about that budget…’  Months of simmering antipathy boiled over and I was fired. It felt good.

I’ve never been really attached to work. I see it more as a means to travel, a reason to go somewhere else. While others were settling down with their careers, I was proving to be an unboxable nightmare for the various recruitment agencies I signed up with. What ambitions I have are personal. My half-hearted flirtation with the corporate ladder gave me soul splinters. I spent six months once trying to find a voluntary posting overseas with an aid agency – any aid agency – but no one would have me. I had nothing they needed. It felt bad.

That was twenty-something years ago. Twenty-something years of moving around, exploring new fields, studying new disciplines, and I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. This week, though, I discovered something that got my heart pounding a little. And loathe though I am to admit it, I can feel some tentative excitement tiptoeing through my veins for the first time in quite a while.

(c) Anu Hammer
(c) Anu Hammer

Enter Karoli Hindriks, a 31-year-old Estonian, who started her first company at the age of 16. A graduate of the NASA-partnered Singularity University in Silicon Valley – a benefit corporation that provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a start-up accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilise these technologies to positively impact billions of people – Hindriks is doing her bit to make the world a better place.

The brain behind, her mission is to match the wealth of professional expertise that has itchy feet with global start-ups who could benefit from their international experience. Her marketing goal is to get the word Jobbatical into the dictionary. With the intention of building the programme sector by sector, Hindriks is initially concentrating on techies. Say you’re a graphic designer or a Java programmer with 5-10 years of experience of working in Hungary. And you want to move, to say, Singapore. You could move over on spec, and see what jobs you could find once you’re there. Or you could sign up to and troll through the classifieds to see if there’s a match. Perhaps a start-up in Singapore is in need your talents.


Or you’re a Hungarian start-up and you would like to get someone with international experience to come work in Budapest.  Simply post your call to action and see who’s out there. Currently in its Beta version, already has 6000 followers and 92 teams in 36 countries looking for your help, start-ups who have the potential to go global but have little or no access to international skills and expertise. And they are willing to pay. These are not unpaid internships or voluntary programmes. They’re proper jobs, with proper salaries, and proper benefits.

And it’s not just for the young ones. Admittedly 80% of those on the books are in the 25-35 age range, but a solid fifth are over 35. Are you in a rut, bored, and want to make a difference while continuing to pay off your mortgage? Do you have years of experience to share and want to travel somewhere different? could well be your answer.

First published in the Budapest Times  5 June 2015

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