26Nov2020

Finding a Job in Estonia: a Success Story – Līga (Latvia)

If you’re looking for a tip or two on how to find a job in Tartu, Estonia, or just want to hear a lifting and hopefully inspiring story of how I managed to do it in about a month’s time, then keep on reading.

To give you some context, let me tell you a bit about my background. I am a Master’s student in Materials Science and Technology at the University of Tartu. I am in my second (and final) year and seriously need to start working on my master’s thesis, so I thought this would be the perfect time to start doing a full-time job on the side. However, the phrase I have been living by has always been “the more you do, the more you can do”, and I find this very true.

You don’t need to be on the brink of bankruptcy to look for a job. Reasons for searching where to work might reach far beyond just needing money for survival. For me, it was to improve my CV and find something to fill my “free” time with. Of course, I’m not going to lie – some extra money never hurt anybody.

And so, in September, while procrastinating on my master’s thesis, I joined the ISA family (10/10 – highly recommend) and I went on cv.ee (alternatively, cvkeskus.ee, glassdoor.com, workinestonia.com) and just started browsing through all the job adverts. After a couple of weeks of searching every day, disappointed, I almost gave up on it. And then, in the middle of September, I noticed a vacancy in Playtech as a Technical Support Specialist, which got my attention. “If you like brain teasers… If you have (unfinished) higher education in a technical field… If you want to work in shifts to combine work and studies…” – Yes! Bring it! So, I put on my thinking cap and tried to create the best application I could. I even got my friends and family to help me and review it before submitting (it might have involved a “thank you” chocolate or two). It took about two days to finish it, but it was well worth it – I got an interview on October 5th! I was so excited about the opportunity – I had never had a proper job interview in my life. Honestly, I was terrified.

October 5th came, and I was so anxious that my mind would suddenly blank and I would fail, but I reminded myself of all the tricks that never fail to help me regain control, so I also applied them to this job interview. Let me share some with you:

  • Prepare! For me, it is very important to feel prepared when going into any potentially stressful situation. I asked my friends to come up with questions that might be asked in the interview and wrote down the answers that were honest, but also sounded good and sophisticated enough.
  • Have a good night’s sleep the night before (if possible).
  • Don’t drink too much coffee in the morning, or you will be running to the toilet constantly, fidgeting, and experience mild ADD, which might not be very attractive to the employer.
  • However, try to eat a good breakfast, even if your anxiety doesn’t let you swallow anything. And have a light snack just before the interview – since eating is an activity not usually done in stressful situations, it might help trick your body into thinking that this is not a stressful situation at all.
  • Wear smart clothes you feel comfortable in, but which also make you feel confident and good about yourself.
  • Very importantly, be honest and realistic.
  • Try to understand that you are in no way inferior to the employer, however, remember to still be respectful. This will help you speak with confidence and honesty.
  • Arrive about 10-15 minutes early. This lets the managers see that you can be trusted to come on time and gives you a chance to cool down and mentally prepare for the coming execution.
  • And finally, smile! This is another trick on your body, as smiling is usually associated with happy moments, not stressful ones. Additionally, it helps you appear more confident.

With all these tricks up my sleeve, I headed to Playtech wearing my confidence dress and honesty jacket to be there 15 minutes early. The interview went well (although I did describe the color “red” as “the color of your insides” – thank you, my random brain). I got my second interview, which (surprise, surprise) led to me landing the job.

I was thrilled and couldn’t believe my luck, because as a science student, even back home (in Riga) where I speak the local language, I very rarely see advertisements that are at least somewhat related to my field. And here, limited only to vacancies in Tartu and in English, most of the options that were not Wolt or Bolt, were in finance or IT – both foreign entities to me. But despite the circumstances, I was able to get a job where I can employ critical thinking which education in science helps you nurture. I must admit that Estonia being a technically very advanced country definitely helped me find relevant opportunities. What began as innocent browsing turned into a job position I couldn’t be happier about!

Photo credit: Unsplash

To sum up, here’s a list of helpful tips that I gathered during my job-search journey:

  1. Don’t stop searching even if you feel like you’re never going to find anything. Perhaps, try perceiving the job search more like online shopping (if you like shopping, that is).
  2. Get your family and friends to help you with the applications.
  3. Be honest with yourself and everybody else about your abilities, how much you really can take on, what you expect from a job, and whether you really like what you are doing once you get the job.
  4. Find what helps you tackle anxiety and appear as the perfect candidate before and during the job interview, and feel free to borrow some of my tips and tricks.
  5. And finally – take it with a smile!

Great opportunities do come, you just have to look for them and be patient.