Starting a new job is always exciting and challenging – especially when you move half-way around the world!
Let me introduce myself: I’m Kris, a Digital Strategist at iProspect, Melbourne. I’m originally from San Diego, California and last year decided to make the move down under as living abroad had always been life goal of mine. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity when I received the exciting news that iProspect would like me to join their team; I handed in my notice to my previous employer, sold all my belongings, packed a few bags, and jumped on a one-way flight to Melbourne.
I’ve now been living and working in Melbourne for 8 months, and while Australia and the United States are similar in many ways, I have observed a couple of differences that I thought might interest you.
Local vs. dispersed client base
I enjoy working in Australia (and particularly Melbourne) due to the fact that iProspect’s client base is highly localised, allowing strong client relationships to form as a result of consistent in person catch-ups.
By contrast, working in the United States is a bit different due to the fact that it is so large and widespread. Agencies commonly service companies outside their city or state, which results in fewer face-to-face meetings and a lot more video conferencing calls. I must say that it’s really nice to be able to walk down the street or grab a coffee with a client to discuss work in progress or future strategies.
In comparison to the United States, Australia has a much healthier work life balance. What I’ve noticed thus far is that Aussies very much have a “work hard, play hard” mentality. When on the clock it’s all about being highly efficient and cranking out work, however when it’s time to call it a day most people are typically out of the office at a reasonable hour. In the United States the balance is more skewed toward longer working hours – it’s not uncommon to put in 50+ hours a week.
Australia is also more generous with its annual leave policies. Four weeks annually are required by law to full-time employees throughout Australia, whereas two weeks is standard across the US. I’m really enjoying the balance that iProspect and working in Australia offers. In the long run I believe that this balance contributes to a happier and healthier workforce, reduced employee burnout, and better employee performance over the long term.
Differences in spelling & dates
Other than the accent, the thing that sticks out the most in my day-to-day work is the difference in spelling between American and Australian English, which is especially important for client comms and deliverables.
Below are a couple of examples which I have to be conscious of, as my brain likes to default to the American English version when composing emails:
- ise vs ize: Being a part of the Experience team specialising in search engine optimisation where on-page copy and keyword-specific meta-data require the appropriate use of Australian English to perform effectively, I’ve had to pick up on this quickly.
- c rather than s: In US English, the word ‘practice’ is always spelt with a ‘c’. However, in Australian English, nouns and verbs use ‘c’ and ‘s’ respectively. So while we ‘have a team practice’, we ‘practise SEO’. Not the hugest difference, but enough to keep me on my toes!
And then there’s the way we format the date. Americans write out the date with the month followed by the day (e.g. February 10th would be 2/10/2018), whereas Australians do it the other way around. When I first started I may have confused a few clients by trying to schedule meetings in the American date format… sorry!
To sum things up, working and living in Australia is similar in many ways to working in the United States. There are few key differences that I have noticed since making the move, but in general they’re little things that haven’t been too hard to get used to, despite an initial learning curve.
Overall I am very happy with my decision to move to this amazing city and country, and to have joined such a talented team –if you’re reading this and considering making the move to the land down under, DO IT!