As Vincit continues to expand its US operations, the company highlights one particularly unique perk to both its Finland based employees, and even employees working at competitor companies: the expat program. This program allows qualified Finns to work in the United States at Vincit USA’s offices in either California or Arizona.
Below, you’ll hear from three Finnish Vincit USA employees who decided to experience work and life across the world, and their tips for moving to the United States. Beyond their personal experiences, Vincit likes to highlight specific support the company provides around the process of obtaining your SSN and driver's license at the DMV – even which DMV locations have the shortest wait times! We set employees up with a guideline for when they arrive as well as a company apartment with a company car for the first week. This ensures there is no stress when settling in and the jet lag hits. Prior to the move, all prospective expats also go through a screening process and meeting with their spouse, included to walk through the anticipated highs and lows of such an experience, and best practices on how to prepare you and your family for unknown, yet exciting opportunities abroad.
Title: Web Developer
- Don’t plan on living without a car (unless moving to Chicago or New York City). In the U.S., distances are long, thus walking around rarely is an option. Also, in most of the cities, public transportation is not great, but there are some exceptions, as I noted above. Driving in the U.S. is easy and I personally find the traffic rules even easier here than in Finland. Traffic in the U.S., however, is a little bit more hectic and aggressive and there are more lanes in general. On the other hand, there are not as many pedestrians and cyclists as in Finland. Also, the vehicle and gas prices are reasonable here. I got started with a pretty decent budget friendly leasing car, which is nice, since that’s not so much of an initial investment, but you get a brand new reliable vehicle. After a year and a half, I ended up paying the whole car off at once and thus, owning it.
- Don’t be tricked by the less direct culture. The way of communication in Finland is pretty direct, that means saying things bluntly and as they are. The American way of communication may feel like sugarcoating, but on the other hand, Finnish brutal honesty can also be considered rude from the American perspective. This is not something to stress about too much, people are forgiving to different cultures, and you will get adjusted over time, but it’s something to keep in mind in the beginning.
- Don’t think the whole continent is faced with hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, scorpions, venomous spiders and snakes, floods and what not everywhere. There is some stuff that can make your life interesting here, but most of that is pretty regional and doesn’t really happen every day. For example, I haven’t heard about tornadoes in Arizona or California. It’s more like avoiding certain areas at certain times (or being prepared, if living there) and you will be completely fine.
- Small talk. People enjoy sparking up conversations with strangers, which is great. On the other hand, keep in mind that “How are you doing?” or “What’s up, man?” doesn’t necessarily mean people are willing to start a conversation, but they just want to say “Hi” and keep going. Thus, reading the context (e.g. eye contact, how busy they seem) here is the key to distinguish a greeting from a conversation starter.
- Recognize the difference between a fast food restaurant and a restaurant. Fast food is something you grab really quickly (e.g. McDonalds) or even use a drive through. No waiting, no tipping, just pay your order and get out. The restaurants, however, are something to enjoy with friends and family or colleagues. You actually sit down, wait to be served, order good food, enjoy the company and make sure to add enough tip to the bill before heading out.
- Enjoy the adventure. The first couple of months after the move can be a bit rough. There is quite a bit of immigration stuff you need though, e.g. getting a car, apartment, furniture, social security number, drivers license, bank accounts, etc. Vincit has internal documentation for expats containing best practices for all the steps and you can always ask current expats for tips related to practical stuff. Also, everything being in English 24/7 can be tiresome. However, once you get everything set up and get used to life here, it’s amazing. Then you can use more free time to explore the vast country with so much to see like nature, beaches, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, big cities, skyscrapers, museums, great food, just to name a few. You can get domestic flights for a pretty decent price and get around easily with metros, Uber or rental cars depending on where you are going.
Title: Lead Software Developer
- The visa process has been somewhat black-box, and you need some flexibility with your moving plans.
- You need a car. Leasing a car is hard without a credit score, but you can use services tailored for expats, e.g., intlauto.com. Buying your car in the US is also an option.
- The most convenient way to lease an apartment is to lease it from Irvine Company, if you move to Irvine. The closest apartment communities from the office are The Village, The Park, Los Olivos, and Centerpointe.
- There is some bureaucracy when you finally arrive in the US, like opening a bank account, getting a driver's license, and handling taxes. Don't worry, other expats and lessons-learned documentation are waiting for you.
- Spend your vacations in the US. From time to time, you might feel homesickness and want to visit Finland and see your old friends and family. However, there is so much to see and experience in the U.S., so I highly encourage you to spend your vacations in the States by exploring the country.
- Go to surfing lessons instead of trying it for the first time by yourself. 😉
Title: Software Developer
- Try to find a US based project to start working in before relocating there. It makes adjusting to the new environment much easier if you have something familiar to do work on, instead of having to worry about the stuff related to starting a new project.
- Take a week off from the day you arrive for settling in. It takes some time to get over the jetlag and it’s nice to be able to get to know your new hometown and start getting some basic furniture, etc.
- Rent an apartment and set up the electricity and gas services before arriving to the U.S.. It makes it way easier to be able to just pick up the keys to the apartment a day or two after the arrival and start getting the stuff in, instead of starting to hunt for an apartment.
- Use the Irvine Company App marketplace to find second hand furniture, there are lots of people moving out all the time, so there’s no need to buy everything new.
- Ask whatever you want from the Finns currently in the U.S., we are all very eager to help.
If you’re looking to move to the United States, these Vincit Expats and our team can help. If you’re interested in learning more about this unique and supportive expat program, contact our US Head of People Operations, Rachel Valentine, at email@example.com.