This is another installment in our “Industry Insights” series, where we feature guest posts of people in the industry sharing their insights. Today, we feature Allie Sexton who works in Oslo, Norway.
“Hello! My name is Allie Sexton and I graduated in 2014 from Construction Engineering and Management. I went on to work (as an intern) that summer for Walsh Construction in Oslo, Norway. Walsh was constructing for the U.S. Government in Norway and I was lucky to be a part of it for 3 months.
I jumped on that plane June 1 and did not know what to expect. I had studied abroad in New Zealand, so how hard would 3 months be in Norway? Well, I was working a lot and not meeting any local people. Then 6 weeks in to my internship, I met my current boyfriend, Christian, on a complete coincidence. He’s Norwegian and was working in Oslo at the time. We had common hiking and traveling interests so we hit off. I left Oslo in August knowing that I had to come back.
Fast forward 5 months… my plane landed in Oslo and I began my career as a Project Engineer with Walsh.
But the project was not performing well, the client was incredibly difficult, and we suffered from bad management. One of my colleagues took me under his wing and started giving me tasks of my own, challenging me, and acting as a mentor. Because of his guidance, I was able to prove myself capable of handling material procurement and, eventually, of managing my own subcontractors. But as 2015 dragged on 2016 began, more and more of my upper management started to leave the project. Managing subcontractors is not something that a Project Engineer usually handles without guidance of a superior. I therefore felt that I lacked guidance, and the project was definitely wearing on me.
My first two years as a professional were not easy. Combine a difficult job with moving to a new country and adjusting to professional life after college…. it turned out to be a pretty rough start! But I am here to share with you that the project ended and things got better.
Christian and I decided to stay in Oslo, and I now work with a Norwegian subcontractor here in the city. My tasks are so far very manageable and it feels so great to work with local Norwegians. I start Norwegian language lessons soon and am getting my driving license (much harder to do than in the States!). Getting a network is so beneficial and it would not have happened had I not joined a Norwegian firm. I am no longer a transplant here in Norway!
I don’t have a long list of advice for you…. but I hope my story can demonstrate that change is scary, but change can also be a good thing. Leaving my American job felt like I was cutting ties to America for good, but in reality, you can always go back. Family and friends will make time for you, and you will make time for them. Being an expat will challenge you in ways you never dreamed of, but it will open so many other doors for you as well. So take these kinds of opportunities if you can, and don’t be afraid to make a change that is ultimately better for you.”