Camille, currently working as a Prototype Buyer at Volvo in Canada, talks about her international career path and shares her experience of life in Montreal.
How are you perceived as French in Canada?
Camille: In North America, people who don't know France imagine French people with a beret, a baguette and a glass of wine. It's a bit of a cliché. They are quite intrigued by our culture and our customs.
On the other hand, in Canada and in Montreal in particular, people like the French if they are trying to integrate. Montreal is a city that is looking for a lot of manpower, there are many jobs to be filled. If some of you are interested...
Many French expatriates have come to look for work, but some stay among themselves, this is what Quebecers don't like. As for me, I'm trying to open up to the Quebec culture with my colleagues. I have become accustomed to the culture, to the little expressions and I think that this is the right attitude to have.
The French have a good image overall. At the professional level, being French is seen as a guarantee of quality, of expertise, but also as a driver of change, which is great!
In which language do you work on a daily basis?
Camille: I express myself in both languages, although since I've been in Montreal, I express myself a little more in French. I miss English a bit but the ratio is still 40% English and 60% French.
I have many people who speak French at work. In addition, Quebec promotes the French language a lot. There are certain obligations to respect, such as holding meetings or sending emails in French.
As for me, I work a lot with foreign suppliers, especially from the United States, Europe and Asia, so I mainly use English in this context.
What do you like most about working internationally?
Camille: Working internationally allows me to cultivate my open-mindedness and to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. I can also discover Canada and the surrounding countries.
On a professional level, it allows me to have responsibilities that I would never have had before 30 years in France. People really trust me.
Is a good command of English necessary to work abroad?
Camille: Yes, obviously. But I like to qualify it, because in Montreal, a large part of the population is French-speaking.
When I arrived in Quebec, I wasn't bilingual but I had a good level of English. This is still necessary for expatriation. You don't necessarily realise it when you're in France, but mastering English remains extremely important.
Has the Covid period had an impact on your work?
Camille: Yes, I have been teleworking since the beginning of Covid. I haven't physically been back to work for over a year and a half. That's a long time.
This situation has also had a huge impact on my work in terms of the supply of raw materials from Asia. On the positive side, it opened the minds of the managers in the way they manage the teams. I know today that I will not return to work 100% face-to-face.
How is the current situation of Covid in Canada?
Camille: It's fine! Fortunately, everything is starting to reopen, we can go back to the restaurant, the bar, the shops... It's a liberation!
What do you do in your free time?
Camille: I do a lot of sport. I like running and I would also like to play basketball again because I used to do it in France. I also go to visit Quebec a lot. With my friends, we like to go to the café, enjoy restaurants, bars and also outdoor concerts.
Do you do any typical local activities?
Camille: Yes, I have tried snowshoeing in the winter in the snow. I'm not really into skiing but you can do it in Canada.
I've also done dog sledding and I advise everyone to do it. I know you can do it everywhere in the Nordic countries but in Canada it's the whole context that makes it really beautiful. I did it in a kennel where the dogs were respected. I spent a whole day walking around, looking at the landscapes but also taking care of the dogs and the facilities, it was a bit of a cliché of the Canadian weekend.
In terms of food, are you getting used to Canadian food?
Camille: Personally, I love poutine, it's a typical Quebec dish with Chips, cheese au gratin and a beer-based sauce.
In Montreal, it's quite easy to find the same products as in France. For my part, I try to consume responsibly and locally. I admit that what I miss the most is cheese. When I come back to France, I often ask for cheese platters and I eat raclettes in summer and winter.
Any advice for students who want to work abroad?
Camille: Above all, don't be afraid of the language barrier and have confidence in yourself. It's a professional experience to work abroad but it's above all a life experience.
Are Canadians nice?
Camille: Yes, it's not just a reputation, Canadians are really nice and welcomed me. This made it easier for me to integrate into the country.