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Our alumni are scattered across the globe, from Beijing to Los Angeles and from Montivideo to Oslo. Joining our international ranks is James Saeed, from the Class of 2017. Having accepted a position at one of North America’s largest luxury fashion retailers as an IOS developer, James now calls Montréal home. How is getting on? Has he adjusted to Canada’s renowned winter temperatures? We caught up with him to find out. 

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to move to North America, home to the world’s biggest tech hubs. But I never thought I’d be doing it in the midst of a global pandemic.

After accepting an incredible opportunity with a firm based in Montréal, I knew I had to move fast. Many countries had started tightening their already strict border restrictions with the outbreak of the new mutation of COVID-19 in the UK. I was running on borrowed time, so I booked the next flight out – on Christmas day. A million things could’ve gone wrong, and that would be the end of the line. And a million things almost did go wrong, but I was able to breathe the biggest sigh of relief once I had my immigration papers stamped at Montréal – Trudeau International Airport.

Uprooting your life to a new country is hard enough, but having a 2-week quarantine on arrival, and strict lockdown measures to deal with after that makes it even more challenging. Basic things like getting a local phone number and bank account took a lot longer than anticipated, which in turn made things like getting furniture and broadband fairly difficult. In all honesty, I kind of enjoyed the challenge, and by the time I was settled, I’d never felt more at peace in my whole life. The only challenge that I was apprehensive about facing was the Canadian winter. Whilst I don’t appreciate the -20 degree temperatures, working from home has been great because I can just watch the snowfall outside of my window whilst I type away beside the radiator! And the magical thing about this place is that the sun is always shining as bright as possible, when when it is -20 and snowing like a banshee.

A month after arriving, I started my new job as an IOS developer for one of North America’s largest luxury fashion retailers. I’ve always enjoyed new and different experiences and working within the intersection of fashion and technology definitely fit the bill. I’ve already had the opportunity to work on some exciting challenges at my job and I look forward to many more that will come my way.

Was it difficult and stressful at the start? For sure. Was it all worth it in the end? You bet.”

James Saeed – Class of 2017 


Are you a Blue Coat student considering a career in the tech industry? You can find out more about James’ career path in our Careers Information Advice and Guidance series ‘5 minutes with…’ To access James’ clip, please click here

Read more in Old Blues, Development

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