Working abroad, from home

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Working abroad, from home

Posted by Allison Auld on April 15, 2020 in Student news
Kirsten Richard, Computer Science co-op student
Kirsten Richard, Computer Science co-op student


It’s been said that the only constant is change, a statement that feels all the more relevant in the midst of an unfolding global pandemic.

Seeking a personal opportunity for change, Kirsten Richard approached Dal’s Science, Information Technology, Engineering (SITE) co-op office in the fall of 2019 to learn more about opportunities for working abroad.

The Computer Science co-op student was looking for ways to explore the world, and decided that her next work term would be the perfect time to satisfy a sense of wanderlust while also gaining co-op experience.  

With Europe as her dream destination, she began investigating her options as a Canadian looking for an international work experience. Her international co-op coordinator, Veronica Ennett, suggested she consider the Canada-Switzerland Youth Mobility Program; an agreement between the two countries that would fast-track her visa application and allow her to live and work in Switzerland for the duration of her summer co-op job.

For months, Kirsten and Veronica worked together to prepare job applications, rework her resume, and develop her interview skills. The process wasn’t for the faint of heart. Even after receiving a successful job offer, followed by acceptance into the travel program, Kirsten was tasked with “loads of paperwork”, followed by a wait for her visa. In the meantime, Kirsten completed Dalhousie’s online pre-departure course all while planning the details of her international move.

She was all set to go, until she wasn’t going anymore.

Switzerland, by way of Zoom

“I had my last meeting with Veronica in early March. At that point, I was hearing lots of rumours about a likely impact on classes, and the travel restrictions were just beginning. I felt like my co-op job would be impacted as a result.”

Kirsten’s co-op employer, Web3 Foundation, is based in Switzerland though it has employees throughout Europe and North America. Apprehensive about the status of her employment though knowing that Web3 Foundation’s team was already working from home, Kirsten expressed an interest in working remotely, and the company was completely supportive.

Kirsten won’t officially begin her work term until June 1 — her original start date was pushed back a month to accommodate the logistics of everything — where she’ll join the team in her new role as Technical Educator Intern, working with the organization’s education team. Should travel restrictions lift, she'll join the team in-person in Switzerland later in the summer.

Teaching the future of the internet

Web3 Foundation is building Web 3.0, the next version of the internet that aims to be decentralized and puts users in control of their data and privacy.

“I’ll be working with developers to help them learn the new technology, while also curating educational materials, and developing tutorials.” All from the comfort of her home here in Halifax.

Since her job has yet to officially begin, Kirsten admits there’s still a lot she doesn’t know about her role, but she’s excited to begin this new adventure — even if the passport stamps have to wait for a future date.