This post was originally published on relocateme.eu.
Michele Bertasi, extremely passionate software engineer with years of C++ development experience, moved from Italy to the Netherlands in May 2016. Initially joined Bright Computing as a Software Developer, Michele is now leading its TPSI team (Third-Party Software Integration).
I was a software developer, of course, and I was working in the industrial automation field. I didn’t think about relocating, at first, I was only considering changing my job because I needed a new opportunity for me. Having done a few interviews in Verona and other cities in Italy, I found that there was nothing satisfying — all other jobs were similar to the one I’ve already had or even worse. So, I didn’t find enough opportunities for me. The relocation was a chance to change my field and improve my skills.
I had many contacts via Linkedin and Daria from RelocateMe contacted me at the right moment. That was only the reason.
In the beginning, she has encouraged me to read about the country and the company. Daria, basically, convinced me to do an interview and helped me to be focused on it, to try it. I was skeptical in the beginning, but in the end, I thought: ‘Just try and see what will happen’.
Daria has assured me that RelocateMe has many contacts in Amsterdam and that they have successfully relocated other people there, so I thought maybe I could also get some help. Because when you move abroad, you know nothing basically. You haven’t visited the country, you don’t know what the life would be, accommodation, etc. She has brought out people that could help me and answer my questions. So, it was useful.
I think my experience in Italy was necessary to get my position here. When opportunities come, you have to take them. In the end, I can’t ask for more than that.
First of all, think about what do you have on: if you are happy with your job, there is no point in relocating, if not, then think why. Such issues as management or career opportunities can be resolved, as there are much more opportunities for software developers in this kind of countries.
Think about relocation itself and its consequences, you have to start a new life. That’s real, and it’s not a joke: you have to start from scratch again with many other things. My girlfriend couldn’t come, I had to search for a new football team and friends, so my life is a little bit more difficult. However, from the work point of view, everything went smoothly and the relocation was really easy. Especially for me, as I am a European: the only thing I had to think about is about relocating. Also, the sooner you start, the better, cause the later you start, the harder is the process.
I think that companies are always looking for people who have done many things, prove to be flexible about their abilities and the way they work. They also need people, who are able to work in a team — this is a very very important skill.
In my case, the best skill I had was that I knew C++ very well and this is not a common skill. So I would advise if you have a very special skill, you have to develop it. Also, I’ve never stopped learning, and it’s very nice to see a person, who always looks to improve herself/himself. This way companies are more comfortable hiring people if the person is going to the company not to ditch, but to learn, even if they are already good… that is a good skill/quality of character to have.
The hardest part was not having family and friends around. In the end, you will get used to that, it’s just that the very first moments that are really bad. Apart from that, everything else was really smooth.
The best part was that I was lucky to find an apartment easily because housing in Amsterdam is really crazy. The guy has helped me with housing, it was really good and it helped me a lot. That’s a mandatory thing to have if you are willing to relocate and you don’t want to end up in a crap apartment or in another city.
I didn’t know much about the Netherlands, apart from people, who came on vacation to Italy. I found it very nice. It’s quite different from Italy, especially from the surfaces point of view and the weather. The weather really sucks, but for the rest, it’s a very beautiful country. Services are nice, people are nice, they’re very open to other people and this is something we miss in Italy. Amsterdam is an international hub. Things have changed for the better.
Another good reason to come to the Netherlands: there are so many conferences, meetups, etc. I had opportunities to go to some of them: Dutch C++ group and Software Circus were especially remarkable. It’s very nice to meet people who do the same as you and to know what’s happening in your field. Also, I went also to other meetups for non-nerds, just to meet new people and have some fun together, what helps very much if you are looking for new friends.
One interesting thing is that all Dutch people speak good English. So, you may have a hard time learning Dutch, because it’s not mandatory to survive and the Dutch switch to English easily, if you see that you are struggling. So, it’s not that easy to learn Dutch there.
During the summer, when it’s good weather many people go to the public parks to play, listen to music and dance, have barbecues. It’s very busy and nice. You have the feeling that people know how to party here.
Bright Computing is expanding, so I have more opportunities in the company, but the best part is that if my expectations didn’t match, there are plenty of other companies here. I am happy with my company, my colleagues are nice, my boss is nice. So, for now, I am happy with the company.
I love being part of a very international team. We have a company outing twice a year, go out, organize meetups and share various activities sometimes. However, everything depends on the type of the company.
We went on a mountain bike trip to the dunes of Zandvoort a few weeks ago. It rained a lot and some people felt down and had a hard time with the dunes. I couldn’t imagine it would be so hard, but nonetheless, it was so funny and uniting. After the biking, we had a barbecue with a lot of drinks. Everybody was relaxed and even drunk with the atmosphere of freedom and delight. It was not easy to come back home with the bike at the end, but those were such a great moments to share together.
It has expanded my horizons. My path was quite narrow in Italy, and here, I have the opportunity to expand my specialty, my field. Many companies are narrow, except for the biggest but Bright Computing is touching many things, adds lots of variety, lots of things to do in my career.
Following news and the right people on Twitter is very important. They can point out interesting stuff, and you will expand your network. The result is not immediate, but noticeable.
Blogs can be useful too. I read C++ blogs (like Herb Sutter and Andrzej Krzemieński) because it’s my specialty and a great variety of others, like Brian Krebs for Software Security, This week in rust for Rust and famous Diary of the Reverse Engineer, I have written an article for.
I also do many courses on Coursera, that are interesting for me. For example, I followed Software and Hardware Security, etc. Stanford Online, Yale online, Coursera are excellent starting points to reach a better understanding of more complicated topics, and they are free.
The things I have pointed out to you are not specific to what I am doing now, I am expanding on it. Even if you’re varying your job, your skills improve, but you can always expand more if you want — that’s my advice. IT moves really, really fast, faster than any field. The more you can learn the better for you. And that’s it. The more, the best. Even if the company develops your skills, it doesn’t matter that you can’t develop it furthermore, if you want. This is the best advice I could give you: develop yourself cause nobody will teach you after school.
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