A life in the US! Benoit Courcelle’s interview.

1. Can you introduce yourself and briefly describe your background before arriving in the US?

« I grew up in Normandy, then in Paris’s suburbs before moving to Paris’s 17th arrondissement at the age of 15. After my high school diploma, I started a law school, not by passion, but because it was the “classic” way to prepare for the police commissioner exam, the profession I wanted to pursue at this time. Once my masterdegree in public law was validated, I started to “cram” into this “famous exam”. As English is part of the written tests, I decided to go to the United States in order to improve it and to live a new experience abroad ».

 A little anecdote:

« Before I flew to the United States, I went for a drink with a friend who asked me a question to test my “language skills” ».

  • He asked me: « How do you say in English?: Il fait beau = the weather is nice ».
  • I proudly replied: « The time is good! »

« My friend laughed a lot! All that to tell you that my level was at its lowest, English was clearly not won! » 

2. In which context did you arrive in the United States?

« I arrived in mid-December 1985, at the age of 23, at the home of the son of a “Russian-Lebanese” couple of friends of my parents who had offered me a free room for three months in his apartment in Los Angeles. I remember my first day in the US as if it was yesterday. My flight from Paris to LA via Minneapolis was a hell of a mess. I was late, I couldn’t find the “domestic flight” inside the airport. I didn’t speak a word of English, it was snowing, I was freezing with my little French “Lacoste” jacket and I was stupefied to discover “cowboys” instead of policeman. One thing led to another, I finally landed in LA. My first night was relatively calm but when I woke up alone in the apartment, it was a panic call. My first thought was to say to myself, “What am I doing here?”.

As I explained earlier, the goal of my trip to the United States was to improve my English “quickly” to be able to go back to France to pass the police commissioner’s exam. At that time, I thought that a few months was enough to learn a foreign language.

To finance this project, I did some “small jobs” and a student credit. I arrived in the United States with $2,000 in my pocket, enough to pay for my life there, but not for housing or buy a car (at that time 10 francs was equivalent to 1 dollar) ».

3. What has been your experience in the United States?

STEP 1: « Shortly after my arrival and some research, I quickly found a school in Downtown LA offering English courses for immigrants. The 25 cts registration fee did not make me hesitate too long to integrate it. It was with the Latin and Asian communities that I started learning this new language.

After 3 months at school, I still didn’t speak English and it was hard to imagine returning to France. Luckily, one of my Nicaraguan classmates offered me to stay with him and his whole family in the Latin Quarter of LA. I was there for six months! I kept going to school and spent the rest of my days in “Downtown” with my painters and creators friends that I met at school ».

Little anecdotes:

« I was always travelling by bus, no driver understood me when I gave the name of the stop where I wanted to get off ».

« One surprise I had in my language school in LA was that the teachers were very positive and encouraging, they told me: “Very good! Good work! ” I was not accustomed to this kind of speech during my studies in France ».

STEP 2: « Thanks to my father’s connections, I found a job in Irvine in the international department of the company “Allergan” (specialized in medical products for the eyes). I spent a year in the “Market Research” pole before returning to France to do my army. I stayed there for 3 months before being reformed after a car accident I had had in the United States. After this stage, I stayed about six months in France doing “small jobs” with the only wish of returning to the US ». 

STEP 3: « In 1989, a period of recession in France, I decided to return to the United States where I started a new job as a “Graphic Designer” for a manufacturer of “dishes” in the food industry. New job, new challenge and learning new skills! I have been working and evolving in this same company for thirty years now.

My “leit motiv” has always been to work hard in order to evolve and access better positions.

For 20 years, I have been part of the international division. Our sales volume is fifty times higher than when I started. We have more than seven factories worldwide and more than 1 200 employees. Thanks to my position as “Director of International Market Development”, I am now involved in various departments: “Sales, Marketing and Logistics”.

In parallel to this career, I have developed with some friends a language school offering French courses for locals looking to learn Molière’s language! I also created several “businesses” offering translation services, graphics, software export, import of ovens from a French company… In this set of experiences, some worked, others did not!

When you live in the United States, you always keep in mind the possibility of creating a business; you are constantly looking for potential ideas. It’s a nice feeling to know that anything is possible, but you have to be willing to spend time on it ».

4. What were the positive points and difficulties you faced related to your “expatriation”? 

Positive points:

  • « The freedom to do what you want and to leave the classic French course: “Street smart Vs Book smart! »
  • « A country of sellers, if you know how to sell you can do anything! »
  • « If you want to grow and work hard, you can! »

Work hard, 10 hours a day and achieve your goals! Don’t ask for a day off or an extra holiday day, just WORK! Add value to the company, challenge your boss, solicit him, be proactive. Don’t wait to be promoted! The formula is simple to evolve in the US, at least there are possibilities.

The difficulties encountered:  

  • « The difficulty of creating friendly relationships ».
  • « The culture clash: at the time, 30 years ago, the United States was a very rich and powerful country! The Americans had a very limited interest in what was going on outside, actually they didn’t care! There were their ways or none. With an “Anglo-Saxon” culture, Americans are less “sensitive” than people with a “Latin background”. They are “strong, hard and know that they are the best” so as a Frenchman, you have to learn to “deal” with this type of temperament clearly differently from ours ».

5. Have you experienced any moments when you wanted to go back to France? 

« Yes, a lot during my first year (hard times, the language barrier, the change of scenery, a police control that had really cooled me down, and of course the lack of my family. At that time there was neither mobile phone nor internet, the cabin phone was extremely expensive (there was a real business selling phone cards on the street). I was able to contact my parents about twice a month ».

6. What are your next projects?

  • « Continue to develop the Chinese market for the company where I work with two priority axes; train the sales team to a level of excellence and increase the notoriety of our company ».
  • « Decide where I will retire. When you have been an “expat” for so long you no longer belong to one country. We may have to find another one ».
  • « Consulting for companies that would like to develop their international business ».
  • « Enjoy life and stay “healthy”! These are two very important projects ».
  • « Visit countries in Asia and Europe that I don’t know yet ».

7. You spent more years in the US than in your home country, if you had the choice would you do it again? If so, what would you do differently?

« Yes, without any hesitation, leaving was the best decision. The United States has given me the opportunity to undertake, evolve and realize many personal and professional projects. I have the “certitude” that I would not have been able to accomplish as much or at least have the same possibilities in France. Today, I have a job that I love, which allows me to travel all over the world, I am financially stable and I enjoy the Californian sun every morning… I have a very good quality of life that I share with my family and friends ».

What I would do differently:

  • « Get an MBA and learn how to sell. Being a salesperson in the United States is the gateway to higher jobs».
  • « Further develop my networking ».

« Today I would recommend that young people who want to travel to learn English should go to Asia. Hong Kong or Singapore where it is easily possible to obtain working visas for 1 year ».

A huge thank you to Benoit Courcelle: “Director of International Market Development” at Cambro Manufacturing, for his feedback, his time and his confidence.

Kathleen

Spotlight on Mark, an “English man” in Thailand

We met Mark by chance by booking a night at his youth hostel: “Karma Home Hostel” based in Phitsanulok, three hours by train north of Ayutthaya.

Mark has lived in Thailand for 17 years, he speaks, reads Thai, and his “cool attitude” and “hospitality” is kind of disconcerting. He welcomes each traveller, takes the time to present all the things to do in the surroundings and proposes every evening to the members of the hostel to dine in a typical spot of the city. All this creates a very warm atmosphere. The hostel is “relatively” small which gives it an intimate feel, its roof top is arranged with hammocks, a cozy corner to relax after a day of exploration. Mark operates on a “trust” principle, “food and drinks” are available, you make the payment by putting money in his “donation box”. Similar to the way of New Zealanders work, I find this system based on trust “brilliant”! Difficult to project it in France.

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A few words about Phitsanulok

Phitsanulok is not a popular city for travellers, the majority of them join Chiang Mai directly due to lack of time or simply knowledge about the possibilities offered by this city. What a pity! Phitsanulok is typical, ancient and deserted by tourists. The “streetfood”, “accomodation” and activities (cooking classes, yoga…) are at unbeatable prices, the cheapest so far on our road trip. And the most important point, Phitsanulok offers at 1h30 by bus an access to the absolutely amazing temples of Petchabun: Wat Phan Sorn Kaew and Wat Phra That Pha Son (a Guell Thai version park). For the return to Phitsanulok, “hitchhiking” is a very nice option. I may repeat myself, but the Thais are really incredibly kind.

We spent two nights at the “Karma Home Hostel”, great encounters and good memories.

Thank you, Mark.

Kathleen

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Spotlight on Janine, a globetrotter grandma!

She’s 83 years old, watching her makes you feel tender and gives you a hell of a slap because she’s full of “energy” and positive vibes! This is Janine, a globetrotter grandma!

It was in Krabi in southern Thailand that we had the chance to meet the sublime mother-daughter pair “Janine and Françoise”. Coming from a family of travelers, the two partners have chosen this year to travel in Thailand for a month. Landing in Bangkok, they randomly join their “son and grandson” on the road in Asia. What they like about traveling is the discovery in the widest sense: encounters, plants, cooking, scuba diving for Françoise and “snorkeling” for Janine who loves being in the water and admiring the small fish.

She also tells us that she had no problem last year jumping off the boat in Guadeloupe.

It’s hard not to be impressed!

For Francoise, an ex-nursing assistant, she tells us that traveling allows her mother to maintain a good health. “This allows her to move physically and not to be sit, inactive, next to the fireplace in winter.”

Timidly, I asked Françoise if this type of trip was not difficult for her and here is her answer:

“The worst pain is losing someone you love and having regrets about what you could have done with or for her. The moments to share are precious! I will continue to accompany my mother in her dreams of travel as long as we can. Next year we will go to India. “

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We wish this beautiful pair many more trips around the world and especially to continue to share and enjoy those precious moments.

A short and beautiful encounter.

Kathleen

Spotlight on Uraï, owner of the “Lanta Family Resort” hotel in Koh Lanta.

After a week in Thailand wandering between Bangkok and Krabi province, we were looking for a “wild” island and less frequented by mass tourism than the ones we had experienced so far. Our dream, a “bit utopian” was to find a “bungalow on the edge of a heavenly beach”. Some internet research and discussions with travellers we met along the way led us to the “Lanta Family Resort” located on Klong Khong Beach in the centre of the west coast of Koh Lanta Island.

After a 2-hour ferry ride from Aonang Beach and 25 minutes by tuk-tuk, we arrived at the “Lanta Family Resort”. Uraï, the director of the place, welcomes us with an overwhelming kindness. From its counter, the turquoise water beach is just a stone’s throw away, the colourful bungalows are behind us, a straw hut as a restaurant, a hammock, deckchairs in the sand, a massage area on stilts… It’s paradise, we can’t contain our excitement.

The Lanta Family Resort is a family history, it was created about 20 years before the Tsunami by Uraï’s parents. Today, at the age of 30, she is the one who has taken over the company and manages about ten people, all members of her family. Lanta Family Resort offers a park of 25 bungalows divided into two categories: bungalows with air conditioning and hot water ($32 / night) and others slightly more basic with fan and cold water ($22 / night). We opted for the second option, corresponding to the comfort we were looking for. The fan cools you sufficiently at night and I guarantee you that hot water is not necessary to shower. At Lanta Family Resort, you will find a restaurant offering all the traditional Thai dishes “without pork” and aperitifs “with or without alcohol” (the island is mainly Muslim), a massage area, a relaxation area with terrace on stilts and hammocks, a postcard beach, a laundry service, scooter rental and last but not least a very attractive “tourism” agency. Uraï, helps you in the organization of everything you want to do (transport, excursions, activities…)

> Tips and activities ideas to enjoy your trip in Koh Lanta

We had an incredible stay in this paradise, our two days turned into five! We thank Uraï and her family for their kindness and the quality of their services. We wish them a very nice continuation, the construction of a swimming pool and full of happiness with her family and with their customers from all over the world.

We recommend this place to any traveller passing through the island of Koh Lanta.

Contact : Booking / Facebook

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Spotlight on “Mama”

Like a guardian, Mama stands in front of her “typical” restaurant in Bangkok’s Silom district. She calls you out, she’s direct! If you decide not to sit at one of her tables by the street, you can read her disappointment on her face then you retrace your steps, let yourself be tempted and taste one of her meals. Magic happens, it’s a delight, it’s typical, it’s simple, it’s at “Mama Mia”!

Contact : “Mama Mia”: Soi Silom 20, Bangkok 10500, Thailand / Facebook

Leave everything behind to follow your partner to the United States

Following my first article describing my academic and professional career since obtaining my high school diploma in 2006 until my arrival in California in July 2016, I would like to share with you my feedback on these 2.5 years spent in the United States.

I arrived in the United States in July 2016 because I chose to follow my partner, now husband, who has obtained a working visa renewal to return at his company’s headquarters in Huntington Beach, Southern California. A dream come true on his side, a cold shower on mine because it was impossible to do Annecy (France) – Los Angeles every weekend. Back in France since 2 years, after a one year break abroad, I had an exciting job, I was surrounded by my family and closest friends and I had just bought and renovated an apartment in which I finally thought I would let my suitcases for a few years. All this to say that a trip to the US was not on my agenda, but my partner’s visa confirmation decided differently. It was inconceivable not to try this adventure.

BEFORE DEPARTURE: ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS

The first major difficulty for the person who follows his/her partner or husband/wife to the United States and who also wants to work is “administrative”, of course I’m talking about visas. If you are not married, you are not attached to your partner’s visa, which means that you will have no choice to go for either a tourist visa (maximum 90 days authorized in the territory), an F-1 student visa (obligation to follow a full-time training), a J-1 or OPT (internship) or an E-2 visa (investor). The last two visas mentioned will be your only options if you wish to work legally on the territory. If you think to find a company “sponsor” directly on the spot, be aware that very few of them engage this type of procedure. If you are married, you will be able to work legally in the territory if the type of visa issued to your spouse allows you to do it. If it’s the case, you will have to follow the work permit application procedure when you arrive in the United States and wait between 3 and 6 months to receive your card and your SSN (social security number). Once this card has been received, you will be able to work officially and legally in the country, for all type of companies, until the expiration date of your authorization (attached to your spouse’s visa).

For my part, not being married and after a lot of research, the wisest solution was to opt for a student visa. Full of ignorance, I searched for potential training courses in line with my background. I quickly became scared when I discovered the cost of university studies for an MBA (between $45,000 and $85,000 OOO for one year). As a result, my research took a new direction and I turned to an ESL (English as a second language) training in a private language school. My strategy was clear, improve my English in a few months to quickly find a sponsor company or an internship on the spot to switch to a J-1 visa. I was the one who “followed” her partner’s dream and I had to appropriate it to myself by setting goals beyond a couple’s project, a personal meaning to this decision. It was imperative for me to be able to carry out a school or professional project over there. I think that this point is the key to a successful “expatriation” for a couple.

BEFORE DEPARTURE: THE PROJECTION

Before I arrived in the US, I had already roamed with my backpack in Europe, Asia and Oceania, spent a year with a working holiday visa in Wellington, New Zealand, but I had never come on the American territory. Except New York, the US was not part of my top list of destinations to visit imperatively in the coming years. You can imagine that I had even less thought nor dreaming of living there one day. The “basic and cliché” idea I had was that it was a gigantic country, rich, powerful, influential, free, full of international superstars of all categories, king of “entertainment”, excess and of course where it is easily possible to undertake and live the AMERICAN DREAM! Although California is in the US, I had a specific feeling (once again very cliché) that resonated more in my head like a relaxing place (sun, beach, palm trees, sillicon valley, hollywood, 2 pac, baywatch), clearly a positive and attractive vibe. I warned you, my thinking was very basic, because I’ve never been there!

In any big change of life, emotions waver like a roller coaster, the unknown both attracts and frightens. Apart from the fruit of my imagination fed by Wikipedia research, Google Images and descriptions from my partner (who was between the US and France since he was 18 years old), I didn’t really know what to expect but I remained very enthusiastic about the idea of living this adventure. One thing was certain, I had never worried about my integration and experiencing a culture shock. However, adapting to this new country was not so simple.

THE ARRIVAL AT LOS ANGELES AIRPORT AND FIRST FEELINGS ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY:

Freshly arrived at LAX, less than an hour by car separated me from Huntington Beach, my future adopted city. Under a bright sun, I discovered with surprise the highway (the equivalent of the French highway but free) with these six car lanes for the same direction, 12 lanes of traffic in both directions, massive cars and huge advertising signs. No doubt, I was in the US! Before I started school, I took the opportunity to discover the Orange County area and honestly, my first feelings were quite mixed. The first unavoidable point is this feeling of “XXL dimension”, cafes, shops, cars, roads, sports facilities… Everything is huge here. Ideal weather, the Pacific Ocean, the immense beaches bordered by cycle paths and very “friendly” people are very attractive. My concern was more oriented towards lifestyle and the organization of the urbanism (I must also say that I loved Annecy, my hometown, which offers a quite exceptional living environment between lake and mountains). Unlike European cities, public transportation is almost non-existent, everything is done by car, you can eat, drink and withdraw money almost every 50 meters, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without getting out of your car. The aspect I found most disturbing was that I did not find the notion of “city center”, a space where you can do everything by walking, stroll in front of the windows of small shops, terraces of cafés, restaurants or a market. In Laguna Beach (25,000 inhabitants) and Huntington Beach (190,000 inhabitants), you can find this lifestyle a little bit, but it is true that the “main street” is small compared to the size of the city. In Orange County, cities are mainly organized around roads. Consequently, shops and “living spaces” are grouped together in commercial zones or malls along the roadside in large, modern and new buildings. It is quite amazing to discover the number of chain stores for everything. I made the point to myself when we were looking for some kind of storage (like boxes, lockers) for our apartment; well after a little Google research we went to a huge store dedicated to the storage paradise. If you have any or rare need, here you will always find a shop nearby to sell it. That’s pretty impressive! Due to a very modern and standardized architecture (and I admit it of a bad sense of direction), it took me a lot of time to find my way around because I found that everything was similar, I couldn’t even notice that I was moving from one city to another when I was driving. I was also amazed to discover bars with 15 TV screens broadcasting many sports games and attention in the US between baseball, basketball, hockey, fighting sports… The sport on TV is all year round and every day. A big surprise was also to discover that night life stops at 2am, not 2:01am, here there is no endless French-style negotiation, people respect the rules “more easily”. Depending on the people, their country of origin, the “context and conditions of arrival”, the time of adaptation in Orange County or somewhere else belongs to everyone. I just wanted to share with you honestly the first significant differences that caught my attention when I arrived. Although the area has some very positive aspects, I found it lacked of charm and authenticity. In short, it was not an immediate love at first sight.

MY FIRST YEAR IN THE US IN ORANGE COUNTY: BACK TO SCHOOL

Three weeks after arriving in Orange County, I joined a linguistic school based in Costa Mesa. As I explained earlier, to obtain the F-1 visa you must be considered a full-time student (at least 18 hours of classes per week) in an “accredited” school. My school offered courses from Monday to Friday from 8:15 am to 2:30 pm per level (from beginner to advanced), but also specific training to prepare for the TOEFL exam. The training time depended on each student and his or her personal project. There were no limits imposed by the school. Some students could be there for a short period of time (for example, during school holidays) and others for a long period of time in order to obtain a certain TOEFL score required to integrate an American university. On the first day of school, we took a general English test that guided you to your class level (from 1 to 6). The majority of the students came from the Middle East, Asia and South America (I think I met four Europeans in five months). All ages and nationalities were mixed, which sometimes gave very lively lessons when the subjects slipped on our cultural differences. This melting pot was the most attractive part of the school. Beyond English, I learned a lot about each other’s cultures and found our convictions and personalities exciting and inspiring. We all came from very different countries in their functioning but at one point we found ourselves in this place on an equal footing, learning English and facing similar difficulties. This type of experience was incredible and brought me a lot on a personal level and in terms of open mind. The other huge advantage was that the school allowed me to meet new people very quickly and have a dynamic social life. These friendly relationships were the same nature as when you travelling, short and intense because no one was there for the same time.

In addition to school, I subscribed to a gym center with many classes. I went there every day after school to train and in the hope of creating a group of local friends. I had given enormous importance to the search of American social interactions and “friends”. This point was for me one of the key factors of a successful integration. I tried to avoid all types of French connections because I already spoke my native language with my partner at home (we tried many times to speak only in English but it never lasted very long). With my school friends, in an international context, I felt comfortable, we spoke “the same English” but in a local context it was not the same story. I understood the overall meaning of one interlocutor’s comments, but to talk was a different matter. At first, I couldn’t find the words, my accent was difficult to understand and I also had uncontrollable anxiety when I wanted to express myself. You know that little constant nervous laugh that comes after each sentence and makes you look very “stupid”. I dreamed of exchanging but I was blocked because I knew that my ability to answer would be limited and futile; and then when you have to repeat your basic words 3 times if not more before being understood, sometimes you get discouraged and close yourself up. A little anecdote, no one ever instantly understood my first name (Kathleen) when I introduced myself. People was like, oh Jacqueline? Katherine? and I kept repeating myself no: “Kat like a cat like the animal, you know Miaou Miaou and then Leen, KATHLEEN”. In short, I still had some way to go before I could master English in a “local and not international” environment.

After a few months spent on the territory, feeling a little more comfortable with English, I started looking for internships in parallel of my studies. As a result, I had my first professional interviews. Maximum stress level! The intermediate step of the phone interview was never validated. The only chance I had, was to go directly to a face-to-face interview and find a company interested in a bilingual French/English profile. Unfortunately, this type of requirement is rare in the area. Companies are more attracted by bilingual profiles in Chinese, Korean and Spanish than French. Another point is that my French diplomas and professional references were not “recognized”. Companies are interested in what you have done in the US and not in your home country. In addition, they are frigid to engage in visa procedures (even for an internship) when they are not familiar with the administrative procedure. They will accept and engaged in the visa procedures more easily if you have “exceptional” technical skills. In other words, generalist profiles such as mine in Marketing and Communication do not fall into the category of rare skills. At that time, the only opportunity I could have “pushed” was a potential position based in North Los Angeles (about 3 to 3.5 hours driving per day with traffic), the project was clearly not viable for an “intern” status. I wasn’t desperate, but I was well aware that finding a company was going to be a tedious task.

After 8 months in the US, my “status” as a partner has changed to a spouse one. This change allowed me to be attached to my husband’s L-1 visa and by chance to apply for a “work permit on the territory”. My card and SSN (social security number) were issued to me after three months. During this waiting period, I took the opportunity to explore the West Coast and its many national parks. And I might tell you that it was the moment that I fell in love with the country (that’s another story). My work permit and my SSN in my pocket marked the beginning of a new turn. I was no longer looking for an internship but a job.

=> Do you want to read the next step of this US journey? It’s here: MY FIRST AMERICAN JOB, A GREAT SLAP IN THE FACE!

My first American job, a great slap in the face!

After a year in “sports studies” and travelling, I was more than impatient and happy to return to an active professional life. I am part of this “group of women” for whom work has always played an important role in their lives and personal development. Therefore, upon receipt of my “legal” documents, I “bombarded” the area with resumes and cover letters. I tried everything, I didn’t want to wait, I just wanted one thing, to work as quickly as possible. Active on job search sites, I quickly received by email a lot of requests from companies specialized in the sale of health insurance or financial products. The emails were attractive, they promised to reach very attractive salaries from your first year. Due to a lack of knowledge of the local employment market and this type of organization, I naively went to an interview in North Los Angeles for a group specializing in the sale of life insurance. The office located in a huge and modern business park, gave a very flashy effect. I immediately said to myself, “Oh, it’s much more important than I imagined”. My interview took place in a glass office with a magnificent view, a person close to my age in an impeccable suit and sitting in a minister’s chair. I first introduced myself, then he did and I answered his “basic” job interview questions. I would like to point out that I was still very far from the level considered bilingual in business English. During the interview, the recruiter really emphasized that he started at the first level in the company, his parents did not speak English well, his dedication had allowed him to climb the ladder, he had very quickly reached the “six figures”, his life was comfortable and he had achieved his American Dream. This speech was at the same time inspiring, destabilizing, but above all new in its form (I had never experienced this in France or New Zealand). Honestly, I had not been convinced, especially after the job description. It was a sales position paid only on a commission basis (no fixed salary) after a period of training in products and sales techniques on their services (1h45 from home by driving). I wasn’t seduced at all! A sales position where you have to make “cold calls” with a strong French accent, I honestly think it would have taken a very long time before I got my first dollar. During my first week of interviews, I was confronted to the same situations and job offers in a lot of companies. The speeches were similar, we were still many candidates in the waiting room and I always left with the same disappointment. Given my limited ability to express myself by using a business English in face-to-face, it seemed impossible for me to sell a “financial” product by phone. There was no sense and sincerely calling a list of 100 numbers per day and getting hung up on me wasn’t motivating me at all.

In the lot, only one interview had “intrigued” me, it was a position of “Events campaign manager” for a Marketing group. The offer was once again attractive, describing more an entrepreneurial mindset, an opportunity for training and development rather than a mission statement. The company’s website was “professional” but remained “unclear” about the group’s activity. The office was “surprising” because of its small size, there was only one reception hall, and two doors. Strange! The first interview conducted by the CEO who was to my great surprise a young woman of my age was very short (about 15 minutes). It was more a “presentation” interview of the company, the evolution opportunities, the “training” aspect or even the possible salaries, than a job description and specific missions. To learn more, I had to go to a second interview located in a huge American hypermarket in a nearby city. I had never been in these types of stores, I didn’t know what to expect and I had nothing to lose, so I went there out of curiosity. On the spot, a campaign manager of the group received me. A young woman who after asking me about the differences between direct and indirect marketing, explained to me once again the evolution system offered by the group. You started at the lowest level as a “Marketing Assistant”, then you could access to the second level in less than a month, then go through 2 more steps (on a total of 12 months) to reach an “Executive Manager” position. The specificity is that this last level offered you the possibility to open your own agency, to be “independent” and to duplicate this same system, in order to access to new levels within the organization. I don’t hide from you that it was a lot of confusing information in a short period of time. Everything became clear very quickly when the “recruiter” took me to the field which was inside the hypermarket and showed me what the job was all about. The campaign manager set up behind a small booth, put a food cap under a cap and caught the attention of each customer very directly to propose them to taste a “natural juice” whose objective was of course to sell it. So how do I tell you this? Cold shower when I discovered what was the American direct marketing. In two seconds, I told myself, no, it’s not possible, I’m leaving, no thanks, not for me, out of the question, and the food cap never! Out of courtesy, I stayed until the end of the demonstration. Then we debriefed and concluded the interview by discussing my motivation to take the position. I obviously played along. When I got out of the interview, I think I was stunned for fifteen minutes in my car, thinking. On one hand, it was undeniable that I was absolutely not attracted by it and that it was not the kind of job I had thought of when I came to live in the US. On the other hand, after a first week of disappointing interviews, zero American experience on my resume, approximate business English and a strong desire to work quickly; I told myself that I had nothing to lose, that this type of experience would allow me to be in an American professional environment, that I would have to speak English from morning to night, that it was better to be active than inactive during the research period, that I had to start somewhere and that it would be easier for me to sell myself on the job market later. I accepted the offer after a last interview with the CEO from whom I left with the “Marketing Assistant” guide containing sheets on sales techniques, general marketing principles to be learned by heart. After approved medical tests (yes, this was also new to me), I started this position very quickly, fifteen days after receiving my work permit.

My first day was shocking. Arriving at 8:30 am, I was able to discover what was hidden behind this second door. A very simple room with paperboards all over. The first half hour was devoted to the rehearsal of these famous sheets given during my last interview. Under the supervision of a “campaign manager”, you had to copy word for word the theoretical concepts you had learned in order to validate them (twice for each “sheet”) and to have the possibility to go to the “field”. The second part of the morning was oriented towards the teaching of a theoretical concept related to a subject of work ethic, sales, or managerial principle, led by one of the “campaign managers”. After that, we moved on to the part of announcing everyone’s goals for the day. All in a circle, the group would repeat an introductory sentence such as “Hey Guys, I’ve got goals! ” and then everyone would give his description with a crazy excitement. I couldn’t stop telling myself, “Where the hell am I? is the situation normal?” The third part of the morning was the application of sales techniques or rather systems like they would called them for each of the products promoted by the group. It could be food products, cosmetics, for the home… The last part, led by the CEO, was a speech about the organization of the group, the opportunities to grow, leadership, “work ethic” again… I was shocked to discover that these “training” meetings would be part of my future morning routine from Monday to Friday. The rest of the time was spent on the field to sell, but before you could have access to it, you had to learn and have the systems validated. I guarantee you that learning texts that are not in your native language word for word takes a long time. Therefore, my first few days were entirely devoted to their learning. After 4 days, I reached the field and very quickly discovered endless shifts with 30 minutes break, during the week and weekends with the bonus of installation / uninstallation of booth sometimes late in the evenings. I suspected that the pace wasn’t going to be easy, but honestly not like that. I had developed a “taste” for morning meetings, but it was “backwards” that I went out into the field. Depending on the products, some promotional campaigns were more “fun” than others. For example, it was clearly more lively to offer “natural juices” than to sell expensive microfiber sheets.

In the lot, a range of products had caught my attention and I very quickly worked in parallel on a personal report proposing strategic recommendations in order to optimize its volume of retail sales. Not wishing to move up the ranks (beware I will say the forbidden word) of a pyramidal organization, I decided to leave the company and take my business license offering me the opportunity to work on my own in consulting. As in the good old days, it was with my power point presentation that I set out to meet the founders of the brand for which I had just completed my study. If you don’t try, you will never know.

This first professional experience in the United States was “painful” but formative. The system of this type of company is very well organized and proven, which is normal because it is driven by a parent company making millions (if not billions) of dollars throughout the country. During these two months I attended the meeting of the founding father of this organization. Organized at the headquarters of the parent company, in flamboyant premises, this man explained his career path, his key stages, his moments of doubt before reaching the position of powerful business man. The speech was interesting and inspiring, it was clearly a typical example of “The American Dream”, a man from a very modest social background, who started with door-to-door selling and who over the years and many sacrifices built a real empire. Following the speech, there was also a round table discussion, where each “collaborator” included in the system had to briefly introduce themselves and explain in two words what their “Big Goal” was. Despite the difficulties encountered, some were very grateful for the opportunity to experience “a so-called entrepreneurial adventure”. This part of questions/answers had made me uncomfortable, I found the atmosphere was “too much” and close to a TV show (it must be probably my French side). From my point of view, some of the members present gave the impression of drinking the words of a “guru” and being entirely dedicated to the organization. I perceived the approach of this meeting as “I know that you work hard, that you make many sacrifices, but at the end of the day success is possible and if it is not for you it is ok, it was an experience”. Of course it is ok! But as a human being you project yourself, you compare yourself, and you have the example before your eyes that it is possible, so at the end, you can say to yourself: “I can do it too, I can do it!” In short, it was all very strange to me and the walk was unknown. There was certainly an attractive side because from the first day we talked to you about the possibilities of career development (reaching an Executive Manager position in 12 months), people who have succeeded in a few years within the organization, their salaries (90K after one year, 500K in five), that in the end it is a system based on “meritocracy”, if you work hard you will be rewarded, that it is possible! And on the other hand, there was obviously your daily life, the other side of the picture, a minimum wage + commissions (almost non-existent), no “benefits” (retirement, health insurance, mileage and fuel costs…), you used your car to go to events, endless shifts… is that really the goal of a lifetime? That is another debate and belongs to everyone. I think that this type of system does not have only bad sides and can be very formative and “successful” for some. If I had met this type of organization at the end of my studies, I would probably have gone head down, but with a little more professional experience and hindsight, at 30 years old it was clearly not the type of career I was looking for. I had already experienced “this dedication” for mass distribution 10 years ago and I really didn’t have the motivation to go through this step again.

WORKING IN THE US: A SHOWER OF SLAPS!

As I explained earlier, I quickly took my business license to have the opportunity to carry out missions on my own in “Marketing and Communication”. Through “unexpected” meetings, I started to develop different projects (website diagnostics, translations, recommendations for visual communication strategies, promotional actions in retail, or the implementation of a potential store in Orange County) for various companies: (cosmetics, food industry, fashion). It was a pleasure for me to return to the type of work I was doing in the advertising agency I worked for in France.

At the same time, I was still very active in research, because I had really made it a point of honor to work for an American company. I continued to send many applications, which sometimes required a lot of preparation time when translation work or “creative” videos were asked. When I reached a second stage, I felt hope but each time the door closed or I remained unanswered. The telephone interview stage never ended, the recruitment agencies did not want to submit my application because I was under visa and not a green card holder, few local companies were interested in a bilingual French/English profile, my experiences and diplomas were not “recognized”, and I must admit that my ability to speak English was not the most fluid. In short, I quickly understood that finding a job in my branch for a local company would be a real obstacle course or an illusion. From one slap to another I was beginning to be discouraged! I quickly realized that I was not going to have the same experience as my local “expatriate engineers” friends, who had been present on the territory for a few years (or even graduates) or the one I had naively imagined before my departure.

In my French resume, everything had always gone quickly, I had been very lucky and I had never experienced these moments of successive searches and refusals. It took me a little time and many slaps to understand that history was not going to repeat itself on the American continent. The essential point was to accept the fact of starting from scratch, starting at the first step and “erasing” these last ten years of experience. It was a new life, a new country, and although Americans love Paris, our French accent and our culture, no one is waiting for us. You have to fight to make a place for yourself.

=> Do you want to read the next step of this US journey? It’s here: WORKING IN THE US : A POSITIVE ANSWER, FINALLY!

Working in the US: a positive answer, finally!

Still developing small projects on my own and between a few applications, I decided to hand- deliver my resume to a few shops in the area. Luckily, a brand of French origin based in a very chic mall was looking for a part-time sales representative. The “shop manager” interviewed me on the spot and on the following week I did two more interviews with the brand’s “district manager” and then the “mall manager” to finally get the job. It wasn’t my business, but I was very happy with the “finally positive” news! The idea of a part-time job (up to 31 hours a week in California) was perfect for me to link my freelance activity and try to develop it. Moreover, knowing that the brand’s corporate team was going to move its offices from New York to Hollywood, I thought there would be potential opportunities in the medium term. Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm that I started this new adventure. At the end of my first month, the brand offered me a promotion with a full-time position still in sales with benefits that I of course accepted. The “benefits” (health insurance, pension plan…) are very valuable benefits in the US. That is, if your company does not offer them, health insurance, for example, is expensive (about $360/month for a basic contract subscription). It is unthinkable not to be covered, because in case of a problem, the bill is very expensive (that’s when you remember how lucky we are in France). After this rapid promotion, I continued to invest myself assiduously in my work. The pace was intense, I closed many times in the evenings and worked for two shops due to a lack of staff. The constant and consistent receipt of new goods in large quantities was physically challenging. The most difficult thing was to be on a different pace compare to my husband or friends (close until 9.15 pm, not to have weekends or just two consecutive days of rest). After 3 months of effort and ranked at the top of the West Coast sales associate rankings, I got a new promotion as assistant manager of two shops. I obviously seized the opportunity and continued until the end of my American adventure with this company. I never thought I’d do this type of job or imagine that this part time would have taken this turn so quickly, but I had an opportunity, I took it and I gave myself 100% until the end.

As a “French”, these successive promotions in “so little time are surprising and motivating”. If you invest yourself, if you have results, it is “possible” to evolve very quickly in the US, it is undeniable. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but this notion of “possibility”, “envy”, “hope”, “positivism”, “involvement” with “the company” seems clearly more present in the US than in France. The notion of entrepreneurship also, here many people dare to start and want to become independent. “The “general enthusiasm” for business creation is quite “crazy” and sincerely this last point is really appreciable.

CONCLUSION

As we approach a change of life following a refusal of our “green card”, I wanted through this article to share with you as honestly as possible these 2.5 years spent in Orange County in Southern California. I came to the US because I followed my partner’s now husband’s dream of living in that part of the world that was so important to him. Beyond a couple’s project, I made it a point of honor that I could also lead a personal and professional project in which I could invest myself and develop. Studies, internship searches, marriage, work permits, slaps, work, promotions, blogs, a new start for a trip around the world… I really hadn’t predicted so many developments in such a short time! Before I left, I had never thought I would find it so difficult to adapt to this new way of life, to learn English “correctly”, to find a job, to create a new circle of friends, to clearly leave my comfort zone. It was my first experience abroad where I didn’t know when I would return, where I had to potentially plan to stay for a little while. This aspect is very destabilizing, because unlike travel, you identify the negative points and you know that you will have to accept them, because you will not go home at the end of the holidays. No, your new home is elsewhere and you have to adapt! If you intend to leave and follow your partner to the US, know that not everything will be so easy. Unlike “real expatriates” and for having experienced it, the language barrier, starting from the first step and rebuilding your skills in the professional environment is not easy, but you have to hold on to it, believe in it and your efforts will eventually be rewarded in one way or another. As I said earlier, except if you have “technical” or “exceptional” skills, no one will be waiting for you. You have to be determined to make your place, work harder than others and be patient. I do not wish to discourage you, just to inform you. Not all French people who move to the United States live “The American Dream”, it’s an utopia. From a personal point of view, this American adventure has not always been easy, but I have the feeling that I have lived it 100% and that I have achieved the objectives I set myself. There were ups and downs, great challenges, discouragement, small victories, failures, encounters, frustration, misunderstanding, then joy again. A real emotional elevator. In any case, it is impossible to clearly describe all that this experience has brought me, but it was a hell of a POSITIVE TOUCH! No regrets, goodbye green card, a beautiful chapter ends waiting to write the next one while travelling the world.

My American Dream was to have shared this crazy experience with YOU (husband)! With YOU (friends)! Thank you and see you soon America!

Kathleen

Story of an atypical academic and professional career

INTRODUCTION

Recently stepped in my thirties, approaching a new turning point marked by the end of a life experience of more than two years in the United States, it’s time to take a first look at the situation because “YES” it’s frightening, but at 30 years old we start this kind of reflection. Through this article, I retrace my academic and professional career since obtaining my high school degree (freedom ticket) in 2006 until today, October 2018. Decryption of my choices of post high school, year of break abroad, multiple changes of companies and freelance jobs, to finish with a new project of a world tour in January 2019.

The message I want to convey in this article is that no matter what roads we take, each of us has the potential and opportunity to do something exciting and meaningful. Sometimes we are the only ones to set our own limits, for fear of failure, of not fitting into a mold, of not being suitable for a group or for multiple personal reasons. It is important to step back, listen to yourself, follow your instincts and give yourself the means to achieve your goals. Everyone is the master of his life, of his choices, you are the only captain on board and it is up to you to find the courage to dare and to undertake if you want change in your life.

This type of written exercise is new to me and as you will discover later, I have never been the best student in French (or English for that matter). All this to say that I have no pretension other than to share with you a feedback on a course marked by many 180 degree turns. I just hope that this story will be inspiring and motivating for some, disconnected for others, utopian or even revolting, simply that it will arouse an emotion in you.

OBTAINING THE HIGH SCHOOL DEGREE

The first part of my life was devoted to sport, more precisely to the basketball. Leaving the family cocoon at 13 years old to join a sports-study and then a training center, basketball has punctuated my life until I graduated from high school. Changes of clubs, colleges, high schools, teammates, boarding schools, these sporting and nomadic years have given me the “love” of being in motion! After obtaining this famous high school degree and these years exploring the gymnasiums of France on weekends, the big question of higher education came up. Ouch! What to do? What job? I had never really taken this question seriously before. I was clearly not talented enough to break through as a professional player and above all I no longer had the desire or pleasure to play. My objective was to get out of this bubble, to discover other things and experiences than this sport. So, I had to find a direction, a plan B, a school or a job, in clear a project.

MY CHOICE OF POST HIGH SCHOOL STUDIES: 2 YEARS WORK AND STUDY TRAINING PROGRAM

Apart from the PSE, the courses up to the high school degree had not fascinated me much and did not have the aim of integrating a specific school in order to access a defined position or sector of activity, it was difficult for me to choose a direction. Passionate about sports, I thought to integrate a sport university but I wasn’t enough academic, I needed a minimum of management. After several researches, I oriented myself towards a BTS MUC (Business Unit Management) a working and study program. The best formula for my profile; two days at school studying more technical subjects than in high school and three days in a company. The training lasts two years, the company for which you are doing your work/study program pays your school and give you a salary corresponding to a percentage of the minimum wage (450 euros/month at the time). In concrete terms, you are considered as a part- time employee with 5 weeks of paid annual holidays (yes, my American friends, in France we do have 5 weeks of paid holidays). As a result, I started my professional career “relatively” young at the age of 19 years old as a saleswoman in a group specializing in sports equipment. These two formative years and with a high dose of personal investment allowed me to obtain my diploma with notes that exceeded my expectations but also a job offer as an executive in this group. I passed into the good student category and above all I discovered that I had a certain ease in oral exams during my presentations of projects conducted in my company. I had gone a long way since the French oral on Les Fleurs du mal of Charles Baudelaire, which had given me a monumental belly in high school. Concerning this job offer, even if it’s true that at 21 years old it sounded a bit like an “El Dorado”, I decided to refuse it for fear of locking myself up so young in a sector of activity. I wanted to push my education to the maximum in order to open as many doors as possible and as always try new experiences.

A BACHELOR DEGREE IN A WORK STUDY PROGRAM

I continued with a new year in a business school that offered the possibility to validate a Bachelor degree in ” Business development and Marketing” in 1 year after a post high school degree +2. From a professional point of view, a 180-degree turn to integrate a start-up company specializing in the development of industrial-scale renewable energy projects. My role was to clear and draw up an inventory of the methanisation market in France in order to understand the creation of a future commercial offer for this industrial process. A radical change since the sale of sports equipment to the participation of meetings of local authorities, visits to slaughterhouses or farms to try to quantify the organic waste generated by these activities. This atypical professional experience has earned me an unusual subject for the writing of my thesis and to obtain a A+ for my final oral presentation in front of a jury of seven professionals.

At the end of this second cycle of education post high school and in all honesty, I had no more ideas about the “definitive” profession to which I could aspire. I was thinking, “You’re going to have to choose a position or a company for the rest of your career. A completely crazy idea when I think back to it today. However, I had discovered affinities with certain classes, I was very attracted by Marketing and its specificities such as diagnosis, research, analysis, or even the creation of commercial offers but I also liked financial analysis, sales, or even business law. It was clearly impossible for me to choose a specific branch and I still hadn’t decided to go 100% into the job market. I had to find an orientation, a plan B, a school or a job… In clear, a project!

In the blur of the moment, I turned to the possibility of continuing my Master studies to acquire new knowledge and give myself a little more time to reflect on my professional future. I have taken private business school exams that I failed because of my written results. In parallel because you always need a plan B, I had prepared many files for the integration of Masters in University (finance, entrepreneurship, international trade, purchasing…) I tried everything! In parallel application (off a classic university past), the places offer are “very rare” and I have only had refusals except to access at one oral selection for a Master degree in Management and Strategic Communication at the University of Lyon, France. For information, my TOEFL was bad, my GMAT worst, 13 places available for 800 applications, the person who received my application read my cover letter and wanted to meet me. Thank you! During my oral, I would always remember these two very emblematic university professors who told me: “but sincerely, you will be bored, you will be sitting next to academics, you have been working for 3 years, why you want to do a Master? ” Whatever their comments, I wanted to access it and was overly motivated by this possibility. A few days of endless waiting, a positive response, an immense joy, the planning for the next two years was drawn up. The integration of a Master degree at the University of Lyon, France with the discovery of new subjects, the completion of two internships or the possibility of an exchange in a university abroad.

THE MASTER DEGREE: THE END OF STUDIES

The university was a new concept for me, I would always remember my first strategy course in the amphitheater. I wondered if the teacher was speaking French because I didn’t understand anything about these theoretical concepts. The first semester, the “core curriculum”, the study of generalist subjects alongside very good students from all specializations was difficult. I was discovering studies, the real ones! Books to read, exams, assignments to give back, papers… A big challenge for a profile like mine, which until then had been a little academic. I spent hours making revision sheets, learning theories or working on endless papers. An investment rewarded by the close validation of this year.

At the end of this first academic year, I had to do an internship. By chance or by destiny and following a Facebook post from a friend I met a passionate entrepreneur who was looking for a person to help him in the organization of the first edition of a trade show specialized in mountain decoration and design in Méribel in the French Alps. The character and his project seduce me and it’s without any hesitation that I decide to embark on this adventure for these few months. After a few meetings to understand the overall business strategy of the event, I worked very quickly and independently from his office based in commercial premises shared with other companies. My missions were polyvalent, such as managing exhibitor registrations, sales follow-up, prospecting, accounting, writing press releases and radio spots, or managing press releases… The keyword was adaptation. Every day was different and unpredictable, I waited for the entrepreneur’s brief and adapted to the needs that the project required. This first edition, which was certainly a little bit rambling, was a success and an incredible professional experience. I loved that internship! A written report and an oral presentation later, I was ready to start a final year of study.

The last year of this 2-year university course was divided into 2 parts: one at school focused exclusively on classes related to my specialization: communication and the other by a final internship in a company. The final step was the redaction of a thesis and an oral presentation. For this last internship, I had the opportunity to work again for the entrepreneur for whom I had completed my Master 1 internship but I wanted to challenge myself on another project that allowed me to have a potential post- internship visibility that clearly marked the arrival this time on the 100% job market. Consequently, a new 180-degree turn to integrate a global construction engineering company with no Marketing and Communication department. Everything had to be done, the missions were diverse and the projects undertaken offered me the creation of a position of Communication and Marketing Manager within this group.

THE JOB MARKET: THE BIG JUMP

After a year spent in this engineering group, the end of my contract was approaching and I didn’t want to continue in this sector of activity, although the conditions were favorable, I had to turn to another project. I was divided between looking for a position in Marketing and/or Communication in a large group offering attractive conditions, career opportunities and the “passion” project in a start-up. It was hard to position myself! One thing leading to another, my path crossed over that of the entrepreneur for whom I had done my internship 2 years earlier and I decided to set off again for a new adventure at his side to develop the 4th edition of his event in France but also in Switzerland. Based in Lyon, I worked remotely as a Project Manager for this entrepreneur and at the same time I developed projects in events and communication on my own. The story had been repeated by a new end of contract and the desire for a new project but this time internationally.

ONE YEAR ABROAD WITH A WORKING HOLIDAY VISA

After these years of twists and turns, school and business changes, I decided to take a year off to explore a part of the world and improve my English, which I must admit was deplorable. I opted for a “working holiday visa” allowing me to work and travel to New Zealand for one year. I will not go into the details of obtaining this type of visa, but it is very easy for French citizens under 30 years old to obtain it online for many countries (the cost varies depending on the destination). After a month exploring in a van the Australian east coast, I headed to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, to start this new stage. First in a youth hostel, then in shared accommodation with roommates from all over the world, I quickly found a work in a catering company (the job of all the backpackers in the area) and then a short replacement in a web start up. Perfect opportunities to cover both my local expenses and to be flexible and travel whenever I wanted through this sumptuous country. New Zealand is breathtaking, as much for its beauty and diversity of landscapes as for the kindness and generosity of its inhabitants. After this New Zealand year and on the way back to France, I took the opportunity to explore for two months some South East Asian countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand) in backpack. Youth hostels, meetings, discoveries of countries, foods, incredible places, for me it was life, the real one, and I didn’t want to waste a minute of these precious moments.

I encourage and recommend anyone who is hesitant to take the next step to experience this type of adventure abroad. Dare to launch yourself, get out of your comfort zone and confront other people, cultures, and customs… A year is nothing at the end in a life, a career, it’s just a break that will allow you to bounce back on other projects that you might never have thought of. I cannot describe the many positive aspects that this type of experience will bring you… And in the worst case if it does not suit you, you will still have the opportunity to go home, but at least you will have experienced it. Last important point, forget the idea that you have to be “rich” to be able to live this type of adventure. If you leave without first finding a job, it is obvious that you will need to have some money set aside before you leave to finance the three basic needs once you arrive on site: housing, food and transportation. There is no precise amount, it will all depend on the costs related to these three basic needs depending on the selected country and the time it will take you to get your new job. Keep in mind that there are solutions (woofing, au pair, internships, VIE…) to anticipate your departure and get you there by limiting your costs on site.

THE RETURN TO FRANCE: CLEAN SHEET

Returning to France early following a failed proposal for a business takeover, my goal was to find a job quickly in order to bounce back on a new professional project and hope this time to settle down somewhere. With my updated resume and cover letter, I started applying for Marketing and Communication positions in many local companies. Passionate about many sectors of activity (sport, travel, fashion, food, cosmetics…) and with a polyvalent profile I was not closed to a type of company, a sector of activity, a position or even a salary. I was “simply” looking for a structure where I could be challenged by a project, missions, and where I could invest myself daily with enthusiasm. To my great surprise, I quickly obtained interviews locally for large groups and small companies to finally accept a 6-month fixed-term contract as a Business Developer in an advertising agency based in Annecy, France. In terms of “conditions”, it was clearly not the most attractive offer on paper, but the agency’s development project, the business sector, potential assignments, as well as a good feeling after several interviews with the CEO made the difference. It took me 2 months after my return to the territory to start this new activity, which was fortunately a quick rebound. After a 6-month trial period, the time to get started and prove myself, my adventure continued on permanent contracts (like following my instincts was the right choice). I spent two excellent years with this agency with a team, clients and shock partners before leaving it (and leaving everything for that matter) for “a personal project”, that of following my partner in California. I will go into the details of this experience of living in the United States in my next article.

CONCLUSION

When I look back and make a first analyze, I’m proud of this atypical journey. I never thought I would be able to get a Master degree in Business, travel that much, meet so many people, or work for a dozen companies and on my own in France, New Zealand and the United States. These 10 years of hyperactivity have allowed me to live incredible personal and professional experiences across the globe and I am grateful to the people who have accompanied me for one step or during the whole way.

As we approach the end of an American life stage of more than 2 years that will mark a new turning point, I’m already looking forward to write the next during a world trip scheduled for January 2019. It’s on the blog “Slap This Life” that I have just created that I will share with you with passion and sincerity my adventures, these moments of life, these encounters that are close to my heart.

I hope that this “academic and professional” retrospective of the years since the high school degree will show you that even if you take different paths, the result can be positive. Trust in yourself, follow your instincts, work harder than others and go to the end of your projects. This combination is a magic formula that I have tried to follow (trust has been earned over time, I grant it because it was not earned). The most important thing is to be active and not in expectation, to undertake and try things that make sense to you and not to others. You are the main actor of your life, it is up to you to slap her to make her look and feel good. If you think it’s possible, that there will always be a solution, then go ahead, listen to yourself and give it all! Keep in mind that there are no failures, just experiences that will make you stronger, more mature and prepared to undertake new projects later. Taking “measured” risks, wanting to surpass yourself, challenging yourself, persevering is better than many diplomas or elitist careers, so go for it! You may not have the standardized path that some companies are looking for, but don’t worry, your atypical profile will always open doors, here or somewhere else!

Thank you for taking the time to read me.

Last thing, if you have reached the end of this article, I owe you a coffee: )

Kathleen