Lodoïc de Kerret, a volunteer like no other
Lodoïc de Kerret is one of the 5,050 young French and Europeans who left their home country to go work abroad as International Volunteers in Business in 2007. Thanks to the French International Volunteers in Business (IVB) program, Lodoïc currently works as a manufacturing engineer at Valtimet in Morristown, Tennessee.
This keen model-maker, who defines himself as creative and good with his hands, was born in the French town of Angers on November 26, 1985 and had spent his life there until 2007, when he graduated from the Ecole des Arts et Métiers. Wishing he could have spent some time abroad during his studies, he admits this is one of the reasons that motivated him to go abroad for his first job as an engineer. He chose the International Volunteers in Business program and a firm located in the Southeast of the United States in order to improve his English and strengthen his credentials.
“As a young graduate, finding a job is not easy and it is even less so when you are French and looking for a job in the United States.” It is one other reason why the IVB option appealed to him. The IVB has many advantages. As Lodoïc explains, for a young graduate like him, it is a excellent way to gain international experience without coming up against the usual difficulties that exist when one looks for a job in a foreign firm. For the companies, administrative formalities are reduced to a minimum and it is financially interesting because the French government subsidizes part of the cost of these jobs. Another major asset for firms is, as Lodoïc puts, that “it can play the role of a probationary period in the firm, it can potentially lead to a proposal for an open-ended contract, as I hope for myself within the Vallourec group. It is a very good way for them to test newcomers”. The IVB program is designed for French and European young people 18 - 28 years old. The duration is variable, the time offered by firms can last between 6 and 24 months (without interruption) and the “contract” can be renewed once. In Lodoïc’s case he is working in Tennessee for 12 months.
Lodoïc chose the firm Valtimet, a joint venture between the American firm Timet and the French firm Vallourec. Valtimet manufactures titanium and steel tubes intended mostly for the energy industry and to a lesser extent to the automotive industry. Valtimet owns a couple of branches in the United States, one of these being in Morristown, Tennessee. At Valtimet, Lodoïc is in charge of Continual Improvement. He implements and manages actions designed to improve the production processes of the firm which means, as he explains, that he does not participate in the day-to-day production but rather that he carries out the necessary long-term missions for the firm. This job was perfect for him because he had gained valuable experience in the field of Continual Improvement during his previous internships. From another point of view, being part of a small office, Lodoïc explains that, like the other employees, he “wears several hats”. For instance, being the only francophone of the team, his services are often called on by the Marketing Department when documents or information are in French.
Living and working in Morristown allowed Lodoïc to travel across the United States. He has already visited South Carolina, Florida and even New York. Coming from his native town of Angers, Lodoïc admits that “even though the United States share with France a western culture, numerous differences exist between the two countries”. He notices that Americans do and conceive things differently from the French. At work for instance, he says that people here seem less stressed or under less pressure and they are often more open and patient. He confesses that this experience in the United States has made him more open-minded. Lodoïc is very happy with his experience in Tennessee, especially his total immersion among Americans. He also appreciates the Tennessee’s natural environment and quality of life. He is even thinking about coming back to work and live in the United States at some point in the future. He concludes by telling us: “I highly recommend the IVB program to all students and young graduates because it is truly an enriching experience”.