02 // 2013
The main problem with working rather than studying abroad as a student, was that I could not use the help of the university or Erasmus to find accommodation. I mainly found information on the internet or thanks to the few friends I already had in Germany. 3 – What kind of skills did you develop? What were the main benefits you had by working abroad? Did this experience increase your employment prospects? Besides my language skills, I think that working abroad taught me a lot about intercultural communication and management. Before I had only heard about mono- and polychronic cultures, differences in hierarchical distances, high and low context cultures, but during my stay I experienced those concepts. I think it is very important for engineers nowadays to work abroad to be aware to what extent differences in culture can impact on the course of a multinational project. I have also experienced that knowing those issues is not enough to make a project work; you should also earn the trust of its coworkers and hierarchy by trying as much as possible to fit into the culture that you work with. This experience is a big plus on my CV because I have gained experience in my field in a reputable laboratory, and I have proved to be quite adaptable since I have been working on a challenging subject in an international team speaking in English and German. 4 - Did you have any difficulties or what were the main drawbacks in a country you didn’t know before? (Cultural differences, budgetary issues, language…) I did not have particular difficulties when working in Germany since I could already speak German well enough to communicate, the costs of living in Germany are rather lower in comparison to France and the cultural gap between France and Germany is quite subtle. That is why I could not name any big drawbacks so easily, but one thing that particularly surprised me when I first arrived in Germany and especially at the Technical University was the proportion of women studying engineering or physics. I naively thought the rate would be equal or even higher than in France but it is definitely the opposite and I found out that women in science are quite rare in Germany. 5 – What kind of advice would you give to engineering students and young professionals wishing to study or work abroad? What do you remember best of your journey? It might be difficult to find a job or an internship abroad but you should use your network and particularly the network of the professors of the university you went to. They are often willing to help and thanks to international cooperation on research projects and contacts with former students, they have an extended network.
Published on Jul 1, 2013