Saskia Ceelie

"While starting the mentorship program I received a message from my former employer in The Netherlands. They asked me if I was available for a temporary replacement position. I didn’t have to think about that for long. Since everyone was working from home it would not make a difference if I did too - from Sweden."

Almost a year ago I moved to Sweden, I can hardly believe how fast this year passed! And yet, living here feels so familiar already. But it has been an exciting, informative year in so many ways. I followed my husband who started his new job in Malmö January 2020. My daughters and I were supposed to join him soon but because of the pandemic we were living apart until August, when we were finally able to move to our new home in Skurup.

I left my job as a management and project assistant at the Hanze University Groningen in The Netherlands; with a heavy heart I must say because I had the best colleagues to work with. And even though I was excited about us moving to Sweden, I was realistic about my chances on the job market, being new in the country and not speaking the language. So when I read the ad from International Citizen Hub Lund regarding their Kick-Start Program I knew I had to start my journey there. I registered for the information meeting and made it to Sweden just in time to hand in my application forms.

It felt good to have to go somewhere for myself after weeks of unboxing, taking care of my daughters who started at their Swedish school and doing a lot of administration. In about seven weeks I joined several workshops on different topics. It was great meeting other newbies and listening to their stories and receiving a lot of information regarding the Swedish labour market and job searching. However, the program also confirmed my thoughts about my chances to find a job, because - besides not speaking the language - I did not have a network neither. And after sending a few applications and getting rejections or no response at all I realised I had to change my applying habits, that had worked fine in The Netherlands. My education and many years of work experience were not enough to land a job.

By that time I got a little frustrated over the situation. I already started studying Swedish but how was I going to build me a network without a job? With the pandemic still going on, forcing everyone to stay home and almost zero physical network meetings to attend to, I was about to give up for a while. Luckily the International Citizen Hub Lund (ICHL) arranged some online alumni meetings to exchange experiences and to support and encourage each other, which was very helpful. At that time Lisa Andersson from ICHL connected me with Mine, one of ICHL’s partners, and I applied for and joined their mentorship program. I enjoyed the program very much and I learned a lot of new practical things about my resume and CV and about job interviews and other conversations. Besides it focused on mindset and my position and possible job market approaches. I also met a great group of mentors and mentees from all over the world with whom I have had valuable talks and discussions and who at the same time have become the beginning of my Swedish professional network.

While starting the mentorship program I received a message from my former employer in The Netherlands. They asked me if I was available for a temporary replacement position. I didn’t have to think about that for long. Since everyone was working from home it would not make a difference if I did too - from Sweden. So I started working as a consultant for Randstad Sweden with an assignment in The Netherlands. And five months later I still am, since my assignment got extended. And it feels good to be ‘back’.

Since me and my family are having a great time together in Sweden we are not planning on going back to The Netherlands. And my Dutch assignment will come to an end someday too. That means I will keep an eye out on the job market here and I am looking forward to meeting new people and hopefully joining some live network meetings in the near future. Having a job in The Netherlands gives me a lot of fulfilment but also time to expand my network, to work on my visibility and learn better Swedish.

/ Saskia Ceelie

>> To the Linkedin profile of Saskia Ceelie