From business intelligence to business consultants. My experience moving to New Jersey

Hey. My name is Bogdan Korolev. Almost six months ago, I moved to live from my native Kiev in Jersey City, USA, having started cooperation with the EPAM American office. I will talk about the reasons and mechanics of moving, the choice of a city, the features of a new job and the arrangement of life in this material.

Here I will not be able to touch on all aspects in detail at once, otherwise it will be difficult for normal perception to be longrid. Yes, and I’m definitely not the one who can be called “tasted life” in the United States. If this text will have a response and a positive assessment, in the future I will try to dive into the details of interest to readers.

I hope for someone my story will be useful. And of course, I will be happy to answer questions in the comments.


Why moved

Before moving, I held the position of Lead Business Analyst in the EPAM office in Kiev. In life and work in Ukraine, absolutely everything suited me – a competitive level of compensation, interesting projects, comfortable life. Of course, a person always wants more, but I was completely satisfied with my position.

Like many IT professionals, thoughts about relocation visited me from time to time, but things didn’t move beyond any ideas – project employment was quite high, and there were enough opportunities for career development. But a lot has changed since my trip to the USA last summer when I went to my colleagues from the EPAM Boston office to work with our client. And at some point, American colleagues invited me for an interview. After a series of interviews, I received an offer and an offer to move to the States. Migration between offices from different countries is absolutely normal for EPAM.

After some thought, I accepted the offer. The main motive in making the decision to move for me was curiosity and a desire to leave the comfort zone. It was interesting to find out what it was like to start life in a new country, whether my expertise was worth anything on a larger scale. In general, relocation turned out to be such a personal challenge and a test of strength.

I was absolutely not preparing to move in advance, which means I did not have any accumulations and did not feel the ground.

Who am I working with now. New old specialization

I currently hold the position of Business Consulting Manager in the Life Science & HealthCare department. If you compare this role with my position in Ukraine, then there is not much in common.

Business analytics and business consulting in the EPAM structure are two fundamentally different directions, although the core of my specialization – business analysis – remains unchanged. Consulting is an important area for the company, which EPAM has been actively developing over the past years. Consulting is a more comprehensive and broader vector than business analysis, and it is logical that a new position implies a larger pool of managerial qualities. As a business analyst, I was focused on the delivery of the project. Now I am more focused on studying the entire business of the client, searching for solutions to further improve the work of the company as a whole.

Therefore, to some extent, a change of country of residence meant professional growth for me.

Mechanics of the process and bureaucratic procedures

About six months passed from the first interview to the offer. They gave me four weeks to prepare and collect all the necessary documents. Thanks to colleagues from the Minsk office – they are the ones who deal with issues of relocation within the company – and their own accuracy (I keep all the important papers together) I practically did not feel the burden of bureaucracy (well, in addition to the fact that my day turned into a round-trip of events scheduled up to minutes).

In fact, I was supported from the beginning of the collection of documents to the meeting in the American office. I think that without this option it would be very difficult for me personally to organize the whole process.

Some nuances arose only during the closure of entrepreneurial activity, bank accounts.

City selection

During the discussion of all the moments of the move, I was given the opportunity to choose the location in which I will live and work. There were two options: Boston and New Jersey. I chose the location solely from my personal preferences. Therefore, the option with Boston, despite the fact that it is a very beautiful city, and New England itself, a rich region with wonderful infrastructure, disappeared right away – it’s too cold for me there.

In the end, as you already learned from the beginning of this text, I opted for Jersey City. Which, incidentally, surprised me – at the time of the choice of the city, I did not know that it was located on the opposite bank from Manhattan, adored by many (and the EPAM New York office).

Actually, such a view opens up on New York

Jersey is very similar to the new and very cultural sleeping area, which is relatively accessible from the center. So, my apartment is separated from Manhattan by a bay, to get through which by public transport is a matter of thirty minutes. Friends from Brooklyn spend about an hour on the road there (but they can always boast that they live in NY, and not like me – in some suburb there, and even in another state).

In addition to travel time, life in Jersey offers a number of other advantages: lower rental costs (and its choice is somewhat more diverse), lower tax rates (which is very important), it is much calmer and quieter here. At the same time, life is in full swing – in the city there are a lot of entertainments, business and cultural objects that are not concentrated in the center, but evenly distributed throughout the territory. Such “decentralization” was very unusual for me, because in Kiev everything is tied to the center – almost all business, cultural and “secular” activity takes place in certain areas, other parts of the city serve only as a place for housing. Here, life “on the periphery” can often be more interesting and diverse than in the central part of the city. And this contributes to the relatively uniform development of the city.

The streets are neat and comfortable

Of course, even because of the geography of Jersey, someone may not be suitable as an alternative to living in New York. But I highly recommend considering this option.

Summing up, I’ll say that living in the USA it is very important to develop flexibility in mobility and housing issues, as a new project or job can make you dramatically move, not just from district to district, but from state to state. Many Americans live in such a rhythm and have long been accustomed to it.

Where to start when moving

The very first thing you need to do to make your life in the United States comfortable is to take care of your bank account and credit score. Without these things in the first couple it will be very, very difficult.

I was lucky, because about a year ago during one of my long business trips I opened an account with Bank of America – to work with this bank you only need a passport of any country. Along with the debit account, I had a credit limit equal to the deposit (at that time this was a couple of hundred dollars). I used the card for small purchases, paying for subscriptions of various services. All this time, some sort of financial history has been kept behind me.

Having a financial history will help you, after receiving a social security number, get a full credit card with an adequate limit. The credit limit and the availability of financial history will be a weighty argument in your favor in a number of situations. For example, when renting a house, these factors can affect the amount of the collateral: with a good credit score, you will need to put out a conditional $ 500, if it is completely absent, the collateral can grow up to the cost of several months of rent. Naturally, the deposit rules are different in each state.

Search and arrangement of housing

The most difficult thing in finding a home is when you just arrive, you don’t understand what is good and what is bad. And businessmen dishonest will probably want to take advantage of this.

I strongly recommend not to rush and carefully study the market. In total, I spent more than three weeks searching for housing, reviewing more than fifty different options. Pay special attention to the study of the area and the terms of the contract with the potential lessor. I came across excellent apartments in areas that, as it turned out, looked quite adequate during the day, and when it got dark it could be really dangerous to go out there. They also tried to slip a contract that did not provide for conditions for termination. In general, be vigilant.

The runaway price of rental real estate is big. It all depends on the particular state, your tastes, wishes and feelings of beauty. The most averaged one-room apartment in New Jersey in a good house and a good area will cost you about $ 2000 / month. The same apartments, but in Manhattan will be dragged from your budget every month from $ 3,000 to $ 8,000. Alternative options: for the same $ 2000 / month you can rent a private house quite far from the city, and for $ 800-1000 – a room in the apartment. Personally, I stayed at an apartment in downtown Jersey City.

My apartment has several advantages: a brand new house, excellent amenities (a common floor on which there is a library, a gym, a common lounge area, a pool and a barbecue for $ 60 / month), the apartment itself is located on the 8th floor and costs $ 3000 / month. For example, the same apartment on the 16th floor will cost $ 300-400 more – but the view from there is much more interesting. The house has a very limited number of parking spaces, and they are very expensive. But with the rights granted by the state of New Jersey and the car registered there, you get permission to park the car on the street for a conditional $ 200 / year.

Common area in the house

When searching for housing, I did not use the services of brokers. This is often expensive, there is a risk that you will be “screwed up” with a bad option, and finding a home yourself is not so difficult. Many houses are wholly owned by legal entities that specialize in renting and leasing real estate, that is, the house was originally built for rental, this is their business. I highly recommend working with such legal entities (after having studied reviews about a particular company). In addition, renting directly from such companies often provides a number of small advantages. For example, it’s much easier to make and put into operation a request to repair anything in the house (and to achieve it) when you rent a house from a company than from a landlord.

Well, another important point about the arrangement of life. Most apartments provide that you already have your own furniture. Therefore, remember that in addition to rent and collateral (and with a weak credit score it can be the cost of 1.5 months of rental), you need to have at least some money to purchase the necessary household utensils. The amount for the arrangement of the apartment can be either minimal or go to the equivalent of the cost of the car, for example – it all depends on your wishes and tastes.

Small life hack: some furniture can often be found simply exposed to the street by previous owners. There is nothing shameful about using used things, many do. In most cases, it is in good condition, you just need to do a chemical treatment before use. Examples of what is useful and not very can be found on the streets – in this Instagram account.

Stoopingnyc Instagram account where you can find various things that are no longer needed by the previous owners

I don’t advise much to spend money on missing interior items: the “nomadic” way of life for the USA is the norm to which everyone sooner or later adapts. Good furniture is expensive, just as expensive will have to be paid for its transportation from apartment to apartment. So why should I get overweight and expensive ballast, some of which in the future will also be put on the street in anticipation of new owners?

Finances: salary, taxes and household expenses

As the taxi driver who drove me from the airport told me: “In America, you are fine if you are either somewhere in poverty or very rich. But if you are a middle class, then hold on. ” After several months of living here, I do not quite agree with this thesis.

Speaking of taxes, income and expenses, it is important to remember that everything here is very different from state to state. The spread can be quite large, so the numbers will mainly relate to the region where I live. In general, poverty in the US is about $ 40-45 thousand per year before taxes. It’s really not much, but even in the status of “poor” many (and even with their families) live quite normally here. Of course, there is no talk of excesses, only payment for housing and modest daily expenses.

The situation with salaries is very similar to the situation with real estate – it is very difficult to understand what is good and what is bad. Thus, the average salary level of middle / senior business analysts has a very large fork. Amounts start from $ 60 to $ 200 thousand per year (of course, before taxes). In the FAANG group (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) and other global giants, analysts can offer about $ 300-400 thousand. It is clear that the competition for these vacancies is very high. Also, in addition to salary, sign in bonus is often practiced here. Its amount is individual, varies from company to company. A good level of compensation can be considered $ 100 + thousand per year – this money is enough to support a family of two people. Finding a job “from the street” without experience in American companies can be difficult.

For the reason the NDA, I can’t name the amount of my annual compensation, but I will say that it allows me to maintain a fairly comfortable standard of living, to attribute myself to that very middle class. Although some consumer habits acquired throughout life in Ukraine had to be reviewed.

For example, trips to restaurants / cafes, etc. I cut back. On the other hand, my grocery basket has become much better. The “food” category costs me about $ 500-600 / month for two, taking into account the purchase of dietary and other specific foods that my health requires. During quarantine, this type of expense increased to $ 1000 – sitting at home there are fewer opportunities to save on food purchases, more often you order food.

I visit the gym regularly, and I pay almost nothing for it – there are a lot of clubs and most offer the first month of classes at a bargain price. Therefore, I, like many others, wander from club to club every month.

The category “clothes” will also not pull the wallet, if you do not bother about brands. If you want and have the time, you can save on almost everything by looking for discounts, comparing prices and visiting sales.

Still dealing with taxes. The fiscal system in the US is a topic for another discussion. But I already managed to file an annual declaration, and, frankly, filling it out caused fewer questions than filling out the same document for the Ukrainian tax.

The average rate for New Jersey is around 24-25%. The final percentage is affected by a number of factors: income level; marital status; the presence and number of children and other persons financially dependent on you; participation in charity initiatives; whether you fill out the declaration alone or with a family member.

Here You can play with various parameters and calculate the approximate bid for your introductory.

Impressions of the country and relocation

I have never experienced much trepidation for the United States as a country for work and life. For a number of reasons, you thought the country was very specific, addictive, if you decided to stay here for a long time.

After the move, most of these prejudices were dispelled. However, I’m still getting used to the total commercialization of everything and everything (there’s nothing bad about it, but some things are unusual; for example, crossing a river can be private property, for the use of which you need to pay its owner), some measured life (but this does not mean that everything is being done here slowly), the peak concentration of people from various countries (you are used to being understandable and polite with everyone, but for this it is important to understand the characteristics of many, many cultures well).

The main thing that I felt when I was in the States was the absence of any ceilings and restrictions at all. In Ukraine, I clearly saw the line of my professional and career development, the future seemed clear and more or less predictable to me, there seemed to be an almost unshakable confidence in my expertise. Here it seems that I’m starting my career from scratch – I found many gaps in my knowledge and skills that need to be filled, since I began to see much more prospects and growth options here.

After several months of real, rather than tourist life in the USA, I can say that this is an interesting, difficult and multifaceted country. Yes, despite all its gloss, it may not be suitable for everyone. I came up.

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