Mentee Nikola Veselská on the importance of networking

After her Erasmus program in Umeå, Nikola Veselská decided to ”migrate to Sweden for love” from Prague, Czech Republic. She now lives with her Swedish partner in Malmö, where she completed her studies and graduated with a master's in international migration and ethnic relations. She now works as a project coordinator at Malmö Ideella, a hub for associations and non-profit organisations where she matches refugees to different activities and associations. Between her graduation and the role she now has, she was a mentee in Mitt Livs Chans.

Why did you apply to Mitt Livs Chans?

I hoped to get in touch with people in my sector and have a chance to practice the language. Even if I felt edgy and not entirely comfortable, I decided to go for the program in Swedish. I knew I could make myself understood and I was willing to challenge myself.

What did you get from the mentoring program?

I got so many things I did not expect! For instance, I got a lot of help with my CV. I thought it was already pretty good, but I got many tips on how to make it really stand out. I also improved my interview skills, which I needed because I had no experience with previous job interviews. I trained so much that when it was time for a real job interview, I was prepared for most of the questions, which made me feel so much calmer.

My mentor could not help me with networking as he was not from my city or field, but being an expat himself he shared useful experiences and encouraged me. I called him before my job interview and just him telling me the ”it's going to be alright” made me hopeful. He was not just a person I had a conversation with, but he was by my side and invested in my growth and success.

How did you find your current job?

I was at my current workplace for a workshop and asked about opportunities for volunteering in Malmö since I had a bit of time on my hands and wanted to make use of my time. It turned out my profile matched perfectly with a job position they just had opened. That is how I got invited to an interview, which then led to employment! I got lucky as I was in the right place at the right time!

Not only lucky, but you were also proactive and initiated a conversation!

I also think that my previous volunteering experience in the field of migration was appreciated as well as my point of view as a migrant in Sweden. It gave me an understanding and closeness to the people I ended up working with.

What would be your best tip to foreign jobseekers?

Go out and meet people. Go to a conference that interests you to get the opportunity to connect with so many people. Also, join different associations, which are a big thing in Sweden, as a tool for integration. If you have a specific interest, join an association with likeminded individuals in your city. It might not lead to a job, but it will give you a sense of belonging, purpose and community!

What suggestions would you give to employers?

Too often, immigration is looked at as a problem and employers tend to think that they are only doing a good deed by employing a person that is not from Sweden. Also, I think that employers tend to worry about the possible language barriers and things like awkward situations during coffee breaks and jokes that people might not get at meetings.

For these reasons they choose people with a Swedish background, as they think it will be easier for everyone. We foreigners might not speak perfect Swedish, but we can compensate with many other things instead. For instance, new ways of handling problems and finding solutions with experience from our home countries. Also, maybe even a network abroad that can be useful for your business if you want to expand internationally. Start seeing immigration as a source of growth, creativity and new perspectives!

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