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I have worked as an apprentice for four months at a company that has centers all around the world. I'm in the IT department and was recruited as a software developer. I'm actually the only developper in the center. I was given a development mission to create an internal application.

Due to network restrictions, I cannot download the tools I need to build this application. I'm in France and the network administrators in the US aren't responsive - they've learned not to be, over the years, for what I believe are cultural differences.

How can I engage the US network administrators ad get permission to obtain the tools I need?

longer details

The tool that I use to manage the mass of software dependencies of my projet downloads them from the internet, but the firewall of the company blocks all connections to "unknown" or "uncategorized" websites, so I can't download my dependencies. I can't even browse the documentation of those dependencies, or download development tools, because those websites are also blocked.

I tried to download the dependencies at home and then transfer them to my PC, but the internal policies also blocks USB devices, and all sort of unauthorized communication with external devices. My PC is limited to internet navigation and access to some administration tools, and it's pretty much the same with all the employees of the center. We have to use our smartphones if we really want to surf the web, but our network is still closed and unreachable from the outside, so it doesn't really helps, especially in my case.

All this makes it so that I can't develop or deploy the application. The communication between our IT service and their is very hard, because we are from France and they are at the US, so we have very different mentalities. US people in our company usually follow the standards given without any problem, but French people like us tend to criticize them, and they don't really understand why we don't just follow the instructions given. Every day there is a culture clash, so they have become accustomed over the years to ignore the majority of the requests of the employees of the French center, despite of the fact that the requests could be of a critical importance.

How can I give credibility to my request as a 17 year old trainee, with no work experience, but way more in software development?

side note

One more thing, I'm French and I don't master the subtleties of the English language, so I don't think the word "trainee" is appropriate. The thing is that I work alternately at university and at work, and by recruiting me, they support my educational background, as a additional teacher. It's written on my work contract.

closed as off-topic by Jim G., user8365, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Chris E Mar 3 '15 at 1:58

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – Jim G., Community, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Chris E
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I assume you're already talked to your superior and/or the US people about it? How did that conversation go? Did they refuse to give you access or just ignored you? And welcome to the Workplace.SE by the way – rath Feb 27 '15 at 1:26
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    Since websites need to be whitelisted, have you tried simply asking for these necessary internet websites to be whitelisted? If so, what was the response? – Thebluefish Feb 27 '15 at 1:30
  • I had more than a conversation with my superior, which is the first one to complains about the policies of instaured by the US people. Just before my arrival at the company, my superior had a discussion with the American network admin, about the update of a server, and the admin just replied no, and didn't respond to any other email concerning the subject. We didn't discussed to the US about the firewall because my superior didn't wanted to have another useless conversation with them. – palra Feb 27 '15 at 1:32
  • @Thebluefish there is a way to request access to a particular page, but the problem is that they don't want us to use other things that the system they propose us, so if they see that I'm developing an utility that they didn't developed themselves, my superior can have problems with the American Network admin. They don't expect us to take initiatives like a new software, but we don't have the choice, I'm a developer and I need to prove that I developed softwares in order to validate my diploma. It's written on my contract : my company engaged themselves to let me do development. – palra Feb 27 '15 at 1:43
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    It's not about cultural differences but about company-specific regulations and their sense (or the lack thereof). – user1023 Feb 27 '15 at 12:32
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EDIT: after seeing your comment, Wesley Long's answer is correct. I am leaving my answer because it's appropriate for related questions.


As you describe, you're starting from a weak position. The US administrators have learned to ignore requests from France, and requests from France are typically complaints.

You need to understand how to make requests that will succeed when working with Americans rather than just retrying the old process that doesn't work.

  1. Talk to your manager and coworkers and ask how they solve problems like this. There might be a process you don't know about.
  2. When you talk to the folks in the US, assume that there are good reasons for why things are done as they are, and that there's a process for what you need. Ask them how to go about solving this challenge. It might be very simple, like submitting a request and getting your manager's approval. And assuming that they are coming from a good place helps to attain collaboration instead of antagonism.
  3. Don't complain. You'll turn off your audience and you'll make things harder on yourself.
  4. Be as helpful to the person from whom you need help as you can. If they tell you that something will take them time, ask if there's anything you can do to help so that it will be easier or take less time. The answer is usually 'no', but the offer is usually appreciated.
  5. Keep your manager up to date as you work on this. S/he needs to know if you are making progress or if your are running into roadblocks.
  6. When emails don't work, use the phone. If you have a phone call with someone in the US, try to have the call at a reasonable time for those in the US. We in the US are often forced to have calls with people overseas at very uncomfortable hours, either before normal work hours (and before we usually wake up) or after normal work hours (sometimes after we normally go to sleep). While they should make a reasonable effort to accommodate your schedule, you should make an effort to accommodate theirs.
  7. Smile when you are on the phone. You may not think it makes a difference, but it changes the whole tone of your voice.
  8. If you think that there's any chance that a cultural difference may be in the way, apologize and admit that you really aren't an expert in the US culture and you don't want to offend. It's not your fault, but apologizing deescalates and helps things move along.
  9. If you can't make any progress, talk to your boss and ask them what to do.
  10. When you ask for something, and you are told 'no' ask 'what is the process for getting access?' If they give you a process, follow it.
  • As an IT administrator in a former job (US) there were several regulations (Federal and certifying boards) along with client requirements (Large companies that provided a large portion of our revenues) that drove most of our security policies regarding internet restrictions and ways to move files in and out of the environment. Always remember that sometimes when working for foreign companies there may be different requirements to meet local laws and regulations. – RubberChickenLeader Feb 27 '15 at 16:50
  • Thanks for the reply,but after discussing mith my superior, I've realized that I really misunderstood the real problem. He always told me to not deal with the US because he fears that I will have to give up the project, as every project of the sort have to be started by the US. Here in France, we're not supposed to take such initiatives, because that is how our company works, so asking more privileges to the US will make them aware of that unwanted project, and may lead to its deletion. Now that my problem is clearly a company specific one, I don't think it has a place on Workplace SE, right ? – palra Feb 27 '15 at 20:11
  • @paira - This question is kind of on-the-bubble for belonging on TWP. It's a little specific to your company, but all-in-all, it's about how to handle a difficult workplace situation, and perhaps an impossible one. I'd vote for keeping it open, unless it's a duplicate. – Wesley Long Feb 28 '15 at 21:00
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You are not in a weak position. You are in a terrible position.

Your project, by your own admission, is not sanctioned by your company's hierarchy. You have a local manager who is "going rogue" against the company's mandates, and is having you do that work.

Whether you and he are "right" and they are "wrong" is not really germane. I would send a formal letter to your manager that your contract cannot be completed in the conditions that exist, and copy your appropriate faculty. It is not your job to slog through this, and it sounds like it isn't your manager's, either. The IT department has taken some pretty explicit steps to prevent what you are trying to do from occurring, and I would bet it was quite deliberate.

Your position is bad. Your role is not sanctioned, and your very presence is (apparently) a violation of policy. I don't see any way to make this happen, and I think you need to start looking at your other options.

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