What did motivate your for working in the USA?
I was already working for ALTEN as an engineer employed at Renault Trucks. I was close to the end of my mission and not willing to start a similar one. I wanted to experience something different. I have lots of curiosity for different cultures and a taste for travel. I think it was the good time for fulfilling that curiosity and find a new opportunity outside Europe. I had no specific ties in France (single and no mortgage) and moving abroad appeared to be the challenge I was looking for.
When I was offered the opportunity to move to the USA with ALTEN, it seemed to be a natural choice. I had plenty of time to make my decision and, in the meantime, it was quite fast as it took only four to five months from the first interview to the day I moved. I had time to get ready for this challenge.
What factors were essentials to your decision?
My decision was based on several elements with regards to the country, the affordability and the quality of life. Therefore, going to America is somewhat comfortable. I knew I could achieve interesting projects and a good quality of life, the right balance between professional and personal life.
I come from Metz a medium-sized French city and studied in Valenciennes a former industrial city from the North of France. My last experience was in the greater Lyon area. I’m not a city person and I felt I was ready for moving to the USA. It was a challenge but I could see myself enjoying such situation as I easily socialize. Building up relations and a social life was quite easy even in a new environment. For example, I was looking forward to live with roommates.
Did you have any expectations? Anything in particular that surprised you?
It wasn’t my first time in the USA. I previously travelled to Washington D.C. and New-York City. When I was offered by ALTEN to move to the USA I first arrived in Michigan before my mission in Colombus, Indiana. I was expecting a strong car culture in the region. It was far beyond my level of expectation. Everything is car oriented, of course it’s the Motor City. Streets are 4 to 5 lanes wide, people are cruising whenever the weather is nice.
I was surprised by several things, some positively like the administrative paperwork and processes that are more efficient than it is in France. Some other surprises were slightly less encouraging like the health system with the deductibles and the “à la carte” approach or sometimes long like the credit score system which made me wait for 18 months before I could finance a new car. It’s not discouraging at all, it’s different and requires adjustments.
Living in America: is it still about the American Dream?
I was ready to challenge the legend of the American Dream when I moved here. I sold everything back home, fit everything in one suitcase and headed towards this new experience. The movies and the TV shows make the USA familiar but the reality of living In America is by far different.
There is a great quality of life and comfort. I would say that life is more affordable and one can fully satisfy his desires and emotions without caring about others’ opinion. As expected, America is a lot about entertainment and it’s how I would say the American Dream is still alive. This is a cultural mix of traditions and fun. It’s very important to commit and get involved in everything you do.
What are the main differences with France professionally wise?
On the professional perspective, I’m also very happy with my choice. There is much more flexibility in the workplace. People are ready to help and participate. It’s more about the result and less about the red-tape. Rules and processes are important but everyone understands the necessity for commitment and achievement.
Although, there is a downside as the pressure is sometimes high and one could wonder if this favors more productivity over quality. I found here a good balance between professional and personal life. In America, people are more considered. Companies have to make employees happy to keep them, there is more consideration and this is a very positive surprise for me.
What is your impression so far? Any advice for engineers willing to make the same move?
I’m very happy with the culture, the atmosphere and the life in the USA. People are very welcoming and life can be very easy here as long as you are open to discover a new culture. The only point is to jump into it and get involved. You must be curious and eager to try new things.
My main advice is to get well prepared if you are looking forward to moving to the USA. First on the administrative point of view. Get an international driver’s license. Ask your insurance for a background file (personal insurance history).
Don’t be afraid or shy. America is a land of opportunity. People are supportive especially if you are willing to discover a different way of living.
Interested by an international career with ALTEN?
Si vous aussi souhaitez réaliser votre carrière à l’étranger,
n’hésitez pas à consulter notre page dédiée à nos activités internationales