Family First: moving to the Netherlands as an Electrical Engineer
In November 2018, Andries van der Walt started a new job as Electrical Engineer at engineering specialist Dornan. A relocation from warm South Africa to the winds of Noord-Holland. Job agency Selectum guided the process, from the first LinkedIn contact to picking up Andries at the airport. Andries happily tells us about his new job and life.
Andries, can you point out what exactly your job is?
I work as an Electrical Engineer, which means my team and I are responsible for the design and construction of the new data center site. We ensure power supply to all necessary equipment that makes up a datacenter and required to ensure that it operates continuously. Everything is set up to comply with the national and international standards, also including specific requirements and regulations for the Dutch climate. It’s not really IT-based but has everything to do with the electrical power supply for the installation of mechanical and IT equipment. In 2019 the installation will start and it is part of my job to do the after checks and handovers. As an Electrical Engineer, in general everything that is a challenge or problem in the electrical field is for me to address. In South Africa, I worked on power stations ranging up to 4800MW per power station on various power generating equipment and LV installations. But here I have had a change as small power and lightning are my main responsibilities. This can change depending on the technical requirements of the team and as things change; as an Electrical Engineer, you are required to do any electrical engineering.
What is the best part of your job?
I am never bored! Sometimes I start my working day and 8-10 hours later I realize that the day is already done. It is a challenging job: I am still learning and adjusting every day to all the different cultures and languages that work here at Dornan, which is great. There are people from many different nationalities working here such as Ireland, Holland, Bulgaria, Malaysia, etc. Living in Johannesburg, I wanted to take up on an international career and learn something new. Added up with looking for a more stable political situation and wanting to travel in Europe, my wife, daughter and I had plenty of reason to coming here. We eventually chose the Netherlands, because we speak Afrikaans and so the language would not be the biggest threshold. So, all in all, we had plenty of reasons to move and Netherlands was selected above all the other countries as it ticked most of our dream boxes.
How did you get in touch with Selectum?
In January 2017 my wife and me made a 5-year plan for emigration. We first isolated all the countries in the world that are too far away to travel in Europe. When our selection was narrowed down to Holland, Germany and Switzerland, we decided Holland would be the best choice, due to the language. Therefore, I started applying on LinkedIn for various job opportunities. That’s when Selectum came in. They contacted me, checked my resume, experience and called me on Skype about my wishes and preferences. When Selectum matched me with Dornan, they arranged everything for me: visa, housing, my family to come over.
How did you experience the collaboration with Selectum?
I was really eager to move. But relocation was a first for me: I had never moved abroad before, so I was not sure what to expect. Would Selectum actually do what they promised? There are so many stories about frauds going on and as a first emigrant, you are vulnerable. But slowly by slowly my confidence and trust grew. I was introduced as a highly skilled migrant in Electrical Engineering with a Masters and over 6 years’ experience in construction sites. Dornan could not find someone like that in Holland and close-by European countries. Therefore, Lennaert van Zon kept in regular touch with me to arrange everything. After some time he had found a place for me and my family to live, which Selectum even partially furnished for us. When I arrived, Lennaert picked me up from the airport. A few weeks later my wife, daughter and pets arrived. They also received a warm Selectum welcome at the airport! So Selectum helped us a lot to get started here, quite a relief.
What developments do you see in your field of work?
For Electrical Engineering, it’s all about wind turbines, solar stations and their energy storage (I did my Masters on that subject). Research currently shows that in Holland, from 2030 onward, only electrical cars will be sold. So in my opinion, we will require plenty of energy storage capabilities along with a smart grid/virtual power plant to control it all. Holland is one of the top selected countries for data centers. I am excited to be part of these developments. In the new few years’ time I might start my PhD studies but for now I am adapting to my new life in Holland.
Would you recommend Selectum to others?
Oh yes! There were quite a few agencies that approached me for a job in Europe. But none of them came up with the right jobs. Selectum invested a lot more research and eventually matched me to the right job. And it’s not just the professional part. Also in the human part they were a big help: Selectum assisted me with the first month’s rent, arranged my family to come over and invited me to their annular ‘eindejaarsfeest’. They really went out of their way to take care of me. Mark van Zundert has visited me twice at Dornan since November 2018, to see if I’m okay and if everything works out fine. But what impresses me most: this year (2019), my wife and me want to buy a house. Selectum is even willing to assist me in that, that’s much more than any other agency would do.
What’s on your agenda for the rest of the day?
Today it’s mostly about setting up electrical schematics. In addition, I have a meeting with vendors to ensure we interface on program delivery and what work needs to be done.
Do you have any famous last words for us?
Life is too short to stay in circumstances you are not happy with. It is never too late to change. Above all: family and your happiness comes first, at all times! Consider your average 5 day working week – 24 hours a day – 8 for sleep, 8 for work, 8 for family and the rest…? Are you living the balanced life?