So, you’ve done it! You’ve moved to France and by some miracle, landed a job that will give your life meaning and line your pockets cash! Yay, good for you! That, already, is some feat. Before you get too excited, be prepared for some cultural differences, good and bad, that will make this experience unlike any job you’ve had in the States.
1. Professional Distance
You. Are. The. Job. Professional distance is a biggie. Just as you can expect French friends to take longer to warm up to you, your colleagues may not give you the welcome you expect from day one. In France, people probably won’t ask you how your kids are, wait, in fact, most don’t give a rat’s ass if you have a family and probably prefer you not mention it.
They’re there to work, not to make friends. The good side of this is that you don’t get the opportunity to play favorites with someone based on their personal life. Theoretically, you’re judged on your work. Theoretically.
The downside to that distance is that it makes it really hard to connect with colleagues. Everyone seems, to me, to be in their own little bubbles and not really concerned with the emotional investments and motivations people harbor for their pet projects.
2. Perceptions of Hierarchy
Nobody likes a cocky noob. Though this goes without saying in any company, I think it goes double for French companies. Status is very important in this culture. By this I mean both hierarchy and seniority. You should be aware of your ‘place’, it’s key to not pissing everybody off.