Moving Away to Move Ahead Part 2: Bureaucracy Strikes Back

Posted on March 2016 By Adam Waring
Moving Away To Move Ahead Part 2 Bureaucracy Strikes Back

​Adam Waring is a SAP Security Consultant who moved to the US with his partner last year in search of new and fresh challenges. We interviewed him in April 2015 as part of our “Moving Away to Move Ahead: How Travelling with SAP can improve your career back home” when he was getting ready to move. Almost a year down the track, Adam shares his experiences of finding work and getting set-up in the US.

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What ever happened to that guy who wrote that blog post that one time, did he ever discover the Americas, was he eaten by Timber Wolves?

I’m sure you’ll all be ecstatic to know that I’m safe and well. No longer a wandering vagabond, I’ve turned into a productive member of American society.

You’ll probably be even more pleased to know that there is heaps of SAP work in the States. If companies weren’t so scared of visas, I honestly think I would have had a job in my first hour of looking. I work in SAP Security, which is pretty niche, but I’d easily find 10 or 20 new roles popping up each day. Now, before you stick on a comb-over and declare allegiance to Trump, I should warn everyone that companies are scared of visas. Like, really scared. It’s a massive deal breaker.

The big move has been endless entertaining and really fun, but also wall-headbuttingly frustrating. I think it can all be summed up with ‘The systems work really well, except when they don’t. Applying for roles through Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn (etc) was actually a huge waste of time. If you’re not American, your application goes into a ‘Too Hard’ blackhole. When recruiters found us though, through our online profiles on LinkedIn or Indeed, it all went swimmingly. I found that recruiters are also a trillion percent less terrified of visas than Corporate America.

The E3 visa (available to Australians who are working in the field they studied in) was super simple. The company who offers you a job fills out a 5 page form and submit that to the Department of Labour. Once approved (which seems painless), make a visa interview appointment in Canada or Barbados, attend the interview, rubber stamp, bing bang bongo, head back in and start work.

Again though, everything today seems quite automated, which is great, unless you’re an exception… which we always are. So my partner’s company filled out her Department of Labour form in 30 minutes, mine took 4 weeks while it sat with immigration lawyers. I got my Social Security Number (which you need to get paid) in 4 days, my partner got hers in 2 months after the Customs guy made a data entry error. Getting a bank account – easy. Credit card? Near impossible. Mobile Phone Plan? Crazy hard. The furniture delivery company lost our mattress and you literally can’t call or e-mail anyone about it. It’s all short-term stress and not at all a big deal… it’s just fascinating that we build IT systems for a living, but it’s been the IT systems of companies and government entities that have made moving much harder than it would have been 20 years ago.

You’re probably wondering what it’s like money-wise. It’s not great. I’m on about 40% of what I was earning in Australia, my wife is on 30%. Cost of living is very location-dependant. Lots of value in property here, but rent anywhere fun is quite high. Cars and Petrol are nuts, $24 to fill up a family car. Restaurants with tipping is as expensive as Melbourne. Internet, TV and entertainment is mind-blowingly incredible.

So… would I agree, disagree, strongly agree or strongly disagree with the statement “I would totally up and move OS”? I would, um, agree. Culturally great, financially terrible, career-wise I think it’s going to be really good. I’m elbow-deep in technologies I’ve never seen before, my partner is learning heaps at the head office of a world leading company. Even in America, a place I’ve definitely seen on TV, there are so many cultural oddities that we’re really enjoying ourselves.

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, I say… Go for it!