My name is Fábio and I’m from the south of Portugal, more precisely, from a small village called Paderne. Paderne is near Albufeira, a well-known city among Dutch people. I studied Electrotechnical and Computer Science Engineering at Universidade Nova de Lisboa. During my studies I learned many technical skills, I developed my logical knowledge, problem solving capacities and became a technological enthusiast. Before I started working for ALTEN I was working in a Fleet management company, working mainly with tracking devices (embedded software) and server-side integration of new features. In my free time I like to practice sports, like running, surfing, snowboarding, cycling and table tennis. I like to travel, meet friends, ride my motorcycle and have new experiences.
Why I chose the Netherlands
After working for 2 years in Portugal I felt that I wanted something new, not only work related, but also a new experience in a different culture. After some research and a bit influenced by some friends, The Netherlands started to seem a very nice option. It is a beautiful country, nice landscapes, amazing cities surrounded by canals, everyone speaks English and the quality of life seemed pretty good. Then, after my first visit to the Netherlands, the idea about moving was getting bigger and bigger and when the opportunity came I took the chance.
In the beginning it was an adventure because I came here without accommodation, so I had to live with friends for 5 weeks (luckily I had friends in Eindhoven). It was quite tough back then to find any accommodation. Getting used to the weather – the cold – was also a bit of a challenge. Besides that, moving to the Netherlands went smoothly. At work I got in touch with incredible ALTEN people, I got closer with them and quickly we were planning nights out for some drinks and a chat. The fact that ALTEN organizes many events from different areas (sports, technical,…) also helped a lot to get a warm welcome.
Outside the work environment I also met many friendly people, that helped me to get used to this new city, Eindhoven. Soon, I noticed that I was surrounded with very kind people in a city, that despite the fact that’s not too big, has many things happening. Being away from my family and friends that are in Portugal was a bit tough in the beginning, but since there is only a 3 hours flight between me and them, it is not that hard to cope with it.
Working at ALTEN
I came to the Netherlands to visit a college friend, who was working at ALTEN back then, during that visit he showed me some nice places in the Netherlands and shared his amazing experience working for ALTEN. After that trip I asked him to send my CV to ALTEN.
One month after I started working for ALTEN I joined one of the ALTEN Delivery Center (ADC) projects. I’ve been working in a project for ASML since then. I’m working as a software engineer in a team with many experienced people, which is amazing to grow as a developer. I work mainly with C, C++ and python programming languages in an agile working methodology. It is a big project with a lot of challenges, which keeps me motivated.
The team is super nice and the environment at the ALTEN office is really good. Working in an ADC project has some advantages, it makes it easier to join knowledge evenings and have close contacts with many other ALTEN people from other projects and competences.
What I like the most is the team and the working environment. I’m surrounded by amazing people who are willing to hear, help and teach. I’ve never felt alone at any point during my job. The most challenging aspect of my job is the project itself. The size of the project is quite big, which makes it tricky to track everything that is going on within our team, and we are always facing new problems/features that challenges our technical and problem-solving skills.
Portugal versus the Netherlands
The number one on this list needs to be the weather. Even though lately the Dutch summers have been quite good, in general the Dutch weather is not that attractive. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the positive energy with 2 weeks in a row of cloudy days. On the other hand, Portugal is a very touristic destination and the country in Europe with lots of sunny days per year, which makes it difficult to beat. A good thing about Dutch people is that they keep their normal life routines despite the weather. I lost count on how many times my Portuguese friends changed their plans because it was a bit cloudy (even though it was 25 degrees).
Lunch time is really different! All my southern friends have warned me, before coming to the Netherlands, that people don’t stop for lunch and just have a sandwich at the desk. For me, used to having a warm meal and a chat with my colleagues during lunch time, it was a bit shocking. To give an idea, at my previous company the lunch time was 1 hour and 30 minutes. Although, after starting to work at ALTEN, I noticed that not everyone follows that lunch at the desk habit and some people usually join me in the canteen (to eat their sandwich ?).
I came to the Netherlands with 2 years of work experience, which is not considered a lot. However, when I started my first project, I felt that people wanted to hear about my input/opinion regarding some topics, even though I was new in the team. I think that in my country you’ll have to be working for a longer period of time in a company before your voice starts to be heard in sensitive topics.
In Portugal we have a different working culture regarding overtime. In our culture it is quite common to work longer. Sometimes leaving work on time is just not done. In the Netherlands that is definitely not the case. Usually here, starting and finishing times are quite flexible and if you finish what you had planned to do that day, you are more than welcome to go home and enjoy your evening.
I feel that the management layer invests and guide me in my career path. They always find ways to improve me as an engineer and as a person. Here I have periodic meetings to track how I am doing and feeling about the project I’m currently working on, as well as what tools I need in order to make my work even better. I think that in Portugal this aspect is not followed as closely as they do in the Netherlands.
My tip for people who are interested to relocate to the Netherlands: come with an open mind ready to adapt to a new culture and you will be well received by friendly Dutch people.
Something also nice to have in mind is to start searching for accommodation a long time in advance before moving.
If you are interested in working for ALTEN as well, please check our job openings, here.