Cristina: “Don’t be scared to take a risk, go for it!”
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Cristina. Could you please introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Cristina and I currently live in Rotterdam. I am originally from a small town in Italy, close to Garda Lake. I like to travel, to go skiing and play tennis.
I have studied and worked in various countries before I came to the Netherlands. I started my first master in Denmark (software related to hydraulic studies) and in 2015 I came to the Netherlands to study in Delft: Civil and environmental engineering.
What was your first motivation to move abroad?
I like travelling. As I said I have lived abroad before. I studied in Denmark and Delft, I did my thesis in Myanmar and did an internship in Venezuela. I even volunteered in Tanzania, Africa.
I feel that as a European you get so many opportunities to go to another (European) country and study at good universities. I want to take advantage of that, to grow and develop. You can learn different things form each country. This makes you more open minded.
How did you get the job opportunity at ALTEN Nederland?
After my master I was looking for a job in the Netherlands. LinkedIn showed me a job opportunity for software engineering at ALTEN. At first I thought that it was not exactly what I was looking for, since I didn’t study software engineering. But then I thought that being a consultant might be very interesting, because you can work at various companies.
So I sent my curriculum and had a nice appointment which convinced me that this would be the right job for me. ALTEN is a big international company where you can learn about structure and processes. What attracted me the most, besides being a consultant, is the possibility of taking part in many courses so you can grow. You can attend courses which will help you to do your job better and grow as a person. That’s not only good for yourself, but also for your client(s).
What I also like about ALTEN are the working conditions. I got a fixed contract right away. It is wonderful to see that ALTEN invests in its young (international) employees. They have faith in them and give them a chance.
What do you do at ALTEN?
Currently I work as a test consultant at Deltares in Delft. Deltares is an independent institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface with five areas of expertise: flood risk, adaptive delta planning, infrastructure, water and subsoil resources and environment. This fits right in with my studies.
I work on a project that builds software which helps predicting the flow of rivers, how do certain rivers behave, etc. I coordinate testers as well as releases. I also organize meetings with users and provide demos. Besides that, I also assist senior consultants at courses.
Do you feel integrated at ALTEN? And in the Netherlands?
I definitely feel integrated at ALTEN. There are more international people working there. I also have a very good relationship with my business manager, who is wonderful. I can always contact her or other colleagues when I have a question. Everyone is very helpful and friendly.
Only one thing stands in the way of me being totally integrated in the Netherlands and that is the language barrier. I am taking Dutch lessons, but I am not fluent in Dutch yet. This sometimes prevents me from making friends really quick. But most people (especially my colleagues) are very patient with me. And even though the Dutch are famous for being so direct, I appreciate that. If you are used to it, it is actually very nice.
What would you suggest to people who are willing to work abroad?
I would like to suggest to people not to be afraid of risks and go for what you want. Of course in the beginning it is difficult to take a chance, but you are rewarded with wonderful experiences. When you are open and curious you grow as a person. You can take the best of the country which you live in and learn the language if you can. This will help you a lot with the integration.
Let’s talk about the future now. What could be the next step for you in a medium-term period?
That is a difficult question, to be honest. I am more of a spontaneous person who does not like to plan too far ahead. Sometimes life brings you surprises. What I do know is that I would like to do more international projects. I would like to grow into a technical job with more responsibilities and more coordination. But first it is important to learn your job as best you can. Working at ALTEN in another country is also an option. The future is open!