Thrown in one go in the crazy adventure of working in the US, I am still surprised every day by a lot of things, even if I have been working for the past 13 years. Anthology:
In the US, the first day at work is called “orientation”. They gather all the new hire to introduce the company, letting everybody know about all the technical details and help you fill the
17’000 forms required to finalize the hiring.
thrilling reunion, I learnt:
- That reporting a colleague who steals can make me earn $500.
- That all my lateness and no-shows (without justifications, including illnesses) are counted up. After a certain amount, I would get a warning, then I would be fired.
- That I still don’t understand anything about hierarchy and job title in the company! (EDIT: After a few months, it’s better, thanks!)
- That you should not climb an unstable ladder or put a screwdriver into an electric outlet! (Oh, really?)
- That stealing is a bad, bad thing!
- That if a client falls in the store, I should offer to help him, but while keeping in mind I must not apologize to him, because any apology he could hear from one of the store employee would mean the store is responsible for his chute. And then the guy would be able to suit the brand for falling.
- That the company must provide the employees schedule 2 weeks in advance (what a joke, see below!)
- That working for other companies at the same time is totally fine.
- That being the less ambitious person in the entire world is totally fine as well.
- That you can send a picture of your outfit to your manager in the morning, if you’re not sure you’ll be fitting the dress code.
And, more generally:
- The taxes are directly withheld from your salary. And even I was always complaining about the tax bills in Switzerland, seeing that much money going away every month is kind of a torture! (In Switzerland, the 401K is withheld but all the taxes are due by yourself, either each month, or once a year (you can choose, and for the second option, you usually get the nicest bill of the year around Christmas! No, really, thanks!)
- Some food is almost always available at your workplace. Candy, chocolate, pizzas, doughnuts, hopefully my job require physical activity and helps me not to stock all the fat in my ass!
- You get paid every two weeks.
- And you can get your money either by direct deposit, or on … a check (if only I knew how to cash a check!)
- Weeks begin on Sundays (commonly known as “how to show up freakin late the second week because you thought the first column of the schedule was a Monday”…)
- You text with your managers.
- Sometimes even from a floor to another, when at the same store.
- You have to give a 2 weeks’ notice (instead of 1 to 3 months in Switzerland) if you want to quit your job. Or, if you don’t care about your relationship with the company, you can just walk away and never come back!
Also, the way the employees are treated is not (at all) the same as it is in Switzerland!
- You can work days or nights (and what I mean by nights is ovenight, from 7 or 9 pm to 5 or 8 am!)
- You can work weekdays and week-ends for the same amount of money (including Sundays, of course)
- Or, you can work Sundays, during the night.
- You can leave work at 10pm one day and going back at 8 am the day after.
- The minimum hourly pay rate is $8.75 (and in retail, the average hourly rate does not seem to be way higher than that!)
- Usually, you get your schedule on Thursday, for the week beginning on Sunday. Sometimes you don’t (for instance, we are Thursday, it’s noon, and I still don’t know if I’ll need to go to work tomorrow!)
Besides that, working in the USA is experimenting a completely different work process, way more positive, and living a lot of great experiences. (And we should take a lesson from it!)
- When you do something good, management will let you know (which is radically different from Switzerland, where the communication is always about negative things you’ve done!)
- Following the same idea, your hard work is noticed and if you know your stuff, they’ll be trusting you right away.
- You can grow within the company even if you have been working for less than 3 years.
- They seem to be quite flexible about the hours you work, which means you can compose a nice schedule that respects your work and life balance.
- You have time during your shifts to try on the clothes the store is selling.
- The work ambiance is more relaxed, the collaboration is easier, and nobody is keeping score when it comes to help a colleague.
- You can spend your day debating about the next Bachelor’s winner with your managers (#teamLaurenB!)
- Upon arriving at work, you hug your coworkers.
- If you day sucks, you hug you coworkers.
- People have been really nice and welcoming with the little Swiss expat I am, always helpful, whenever I need it!
The shock was harsh on me, used to the Swiss wages and hours, as well as to a different work dynamic (mostly worse, I must admit!)! Some really good things, some bad things, but I know for a fact that I am not done with surprises!