Relocation with EPAM: From St. Petersburg to Prague
How did your story with EPAM begin?
It all started in St. Petersburg, Russia about three years ago. I was a linguist and I had no technical background. I applied to EPAM as a technical writer. During the interview, I was asked if that’s what I really want to do, and I could not bring myself to say “yes”. So, they asked me if I want to be a developer and I said “why not”. I got in touch with the lead manager, took EPAM courses and eventually started as Junior Developer.
What made you consider relocation?
Well, first I thought about it when our project moved to a different country and my manager joked, “Well, you can continue working on the project, but you have to move to the US”. That’s when I realized it was possible to move around the world at EPAM. Then one of my former colleagues moved to Krakow, Poland. A couple of weeks later, I got a message from the Kiev team that there was an opportunity to work in Prague. I thought, “Cool! Prague is awesome! Let’s have an interview!” I didn’t pass the interview the first time. The second project I applied to moved to India, but eventually I got an offer!
Have you ever been to Prague?
I never went to Prague before we moved here. But I was sure that my wife and I were going to like it. We made a “family pact” that in two years we would sit together and decide if we were going to stay or move somewhere else.
Did you have any concerns about Prague?
As a matter of fact, I didn’t have any Prague-specific concerns. It’s challenging to leave the country you grew up in. You miss your friends and parents. In Prague, I had to build a network of friends from scratch. The advantage is that there are a lot of people at our Prague office who have relocated - many of them are from Russia. So I’ve made some good friends. Also, there are Facebook groups of expats, which helped me with some relocation questions, such as insurance, housing, etc. My colleagues are very friendly and supportive – my interviewer was the first person who greeted me, showed me around the office and told me what I should do to get settled.
How do you feel about Prague so far?
So far, I am super excited. After intense working weeks, we become tourists on the weekends. It’s almost like a second honeymoon for us. We go sightseeing, we enjoy the restaurants and we take a lot of selfies. It feels more like a vacation. The public transportation system is perfect, shopping is great, though prices may vary. But I must admit that the mobile communication tariffs are much higher here. It’s about 10 times more in Prague than St. Petersburg.
For relocation from CIS to Czech Republic, Ukraine is an “interchange station”. How did you feel about that?
I was in Ukraine for two and a half months. I had a lot of experience becoming familiar with the project and the people. There were several people waiting to relocate to Prague as well, so I made some acquaintances. Our HR managers helped me a lot too, as they connect people who are going through the same process. As a country, Ukraine is close to Russia and many people speak Russian there, so I didn’t have any issues understanding the people and culture.
In the beginning, you mentioned that you are married. Did your wife move to Ukraine with you?
Some people moved to Ukraine with their wives and kids, but we decided that my wife would stay in St. Petersburg for that time. We had to finish our apartment renovation and make some arrangements. So, she joined me in Prague.
Is there anything you’d like to highlight about your relocation experience?
The internal mobility team is outstanding. During every step of the relocation process, they send a very detailed email (about five pages long) with everything you need. And if you still have questions, they are always answered promptly via email or skype. I was afraid about handling some of the complicated steps like getting a visa and doing all of the paperwork, but the internal mobility team actually over prepared me, which was great.
Is there anything you’d recommend to people considering relocation?
Why not? You can try it, get new experience, broaden your views and if you don’t like it, you can always come back.
Are you interested in being relocated to Prague? Then apply now!