For this second interview of The Interview Interview series, through which I want to give job seekers the opportunity to introduce themselves and talk about their backgrounds, I met Gautier Bresson, a fellow Frenchie who arrived in the Netherlands this summer. Gautier is an agro-food engineer with a specialization in production. After a successful internship at Lactalis that led to an employment contract, Gautier decided to pursue his career abroad, in Mozambique, before settling in Amsterdam.
Meeting job seekers of different backgrounds allows me to discover sectors and specializations I had never heard of before. Working in production and QM (Quality Management) meant that Gautier was responsible for analyzing processes and issues on production sites, and working on ways to constantly improve production (by shortening production times, increasing safety, and adapting workstations, for example). In Mozambique, he was responsible for obtaining a European organic certification for the company he was working for (from convincing the leadership of the company to providing documents to the organic certification organization, running industrial tests, and supervising the very first organic sugar production!).
This experience in Africa proved to be a ‘real adventure’, as he describes it to me. His wish to get out of his comfort zone was granted when he found himself in an isolated region of Mozambique, traveling in light aircraft and meeting snakes in the shower: “Once you’re there, you know it’s probably going to be long-term. And that you may not be able to come home for Christmas, for example”, he tells me on the phone.
What have you learned from working abroad?
This adventure helped me develop my self-confidence. I used to doubt myself, and one of the reasons why I went to Mozambique was to prove to myself that I could do something like this, something new, somehow risky – and do just fine. Which I did. It gave me a sense that I had what it takes to face adversity. It made me resilient and taught me to keep pushing for the things that I want because nothing was easy to do down there. Sometimes it was all amazing, beautiful, and fascinating… but never easy. Everything you wanted to achieve came with a ‘bump in the road’ (sometimes even literally!). We were a group of young Frenchies going there for a year or two as VIE’s*. We wanted to visit the country and try as many things as possible, so we traveled there together and learned to rely on each other.
Gautier returned to France in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak and arrived in the Netherlands this summer. He quickly discovered that QM and process engineer positions required a good level of Dutch, with job offers often written in Dutch only, even for international companies. “There would be on average 200 applications for jobs that are more open to international job seekers and written in English”, he explains, “and I feel like these job offers represent only a small percentage of all the offers available in the sector”. Which meant mastering Van Gogh’s mother tongue.
I know you’ve been learning Dutch since you moved here: how do you combine your job search with learning the language? Have you set up a roadmap or strategy, a daily routine?
I have been learning a variety of languages throughout my career, in very different circumstances, and with different tools: each time has been a different experience for me. I learned that to improve my language skills, the most important thing was exposure. I have a target of an hour per day of learning Dutch (watching a video, practicing with Duolingo, reading a book, or following a lesson from Assimil**). The more I struggle to try to communicate, the faster I learn, so I found a language buddy to help me push my limits, and work on the words I am struggling with. My goal is to be ready for a job interview in Dutch, so there is still a long way to go, but it keeps me going to have that kind of long-term objective. And even if I end up finding a job that doesn’t require me to speak Dutch, it will still be useful in everyday life. I spend most of my time working on job applications, but learning Dutch comes as a break in this daily routine. I especially enjoy it because I can tell I’m making progress, while with the job search, it is harder to tell when I am taking a step forward.
When asked what in a job makes him get up in the morning, Gautier answers that it is both the sense of responsibility that the position bears and the commitment he made. He adds: “what kept me getting up every day over the last years is also what I was learning, and how much I was growing and improving over time”.
The inescapable interview question: what makes your profile unique, compared to other candidates?
My open-mindedness, my perseverance, and my ability to face new situations. I have started over twice already in my career and life, moving to Mozambique, and now looking for a new job in the Netherlands. These are things that don’t scare me off for a second. It is always complicated to set foot in a new country or a new company, but I see these as challenges, and I am excited to take them on.
If you are looking for a hardworking and motivated candidate with a passion for working with teams, check out his LinkedIn profile here.