A Swedish Family in the US – Working Abroad at SICK
SICK is a big, international company that has offices in many different countries. Thus, there are lots of possibilities if you are interested in working abroad for a period of time. I got the chance to work in the US for six months and here I am right now! I have brought my family. That is my husband and three kids. We got here early in July this summer and will stay until Christmas.
I’m stationed at a SICK subsidiary in Minneapolis, Minnesota where there are about 100 employees in the office. At this office the entire SICK portfolio is being supported and sold, they are doing sales, marketing, support, etc. on all of the SICKs sensors. I’m here as a vision expert training my colleagues to learn more about our vision products. I’m also helping out in ongoing projects and pre-studies involving our vision products. The work here is quite similar to what I do in Sweden but it’s very exciting to learn about the challenges a subsidiary has and also experience the different work culture here. One thing that actually make some difference is that they don’t take regular breaks here the way we normally do in Sweden. Thus it takes some time to get to know people in the beginning. Many also eat lunch at their desks and therefore you don’t get the socializing that I’m used to. After being here for a while you realize that my American colleagues do socialize quite a lot but more in combination when discussing work.
To work here is also a great chance to explore the country! So far I have been on two customer visits, first was to a machine builder in Denver, Colorado that is using one of our 3D cameras to locate potatoes on a conveyor and sending the coordinates to a robot that picks and cuts the potatoes that later becomes french fries. My task was to help out with the programming of the camera because they had some trouble when the potatoes where touching each other. It was an issue they had not managed to solve. Luckily I got some spare time at this trip and got a chance to visit the Rocky Mountains. The second customer visit was to Cooper Tire in Texas where I held a training of one of our 3D cameras that they are using and wanted to learn more about.
Since I have brought my family here my children have started school and pre-school. My oldest daughter is 8 years old and goes to an American school close to where we live. She hardly knew a word of English the first day but has learned very quickly and now understands very much even though she still has some trouble speaking. She made some friends from the first day that probably has helped out a lot and she really enjoys going to school! I was expecting it to be a much tougher start! My younger children go to a pre-school three hours per day and are home with their dad the rest of the time.
In the weekends we try to explore the surroundings of Minneapolis. Last week the schools in Minnesota had two days off as a fall break and I took some vacation to go with the family to a resort at Wisconsin Dells. This city calls itself “The waterpark capital of the world” and I would agree. So many resorts and huge waterparks, amusement parks, go-kart tracks and you name it, very American! The kids loved it! Last weekend we tried a corn maze that is a huge maze out on a corn field where you should find different numbers you have on a map – a typical American activity around Halloween and very fun.
At SICK Linköping I’m a member of our sustainability group where we try to push people to commute to work in an environment friendly way. Therefore, I thought I should try this in the US as well and did buy an e-bike when I got here. I bike about 12 km from our apartment to the office and surprisingly it works fairly well to bike here! It is not very common to bike here, I very seldom meet any other bikers and my bike is the only one standing outside the office. Of course I have to select my route carefully since it is many heavy trafficked roads here with many lanes but I did found a way where most of the time is spent on a ”one lane” road passing by a beautiful landscape with a lake at the side. This gives me a great start of the day instead of sitting stuck in a car in traffic jam.