I vividly remember last winter, when I was lying in bed with a flu, thinking with myself that I should somehow change the way I go about job searching. I had applied for several positions and none of them had gone through, and I felt that I must try a different approach.
A friend had just forwarded me an email introducing the Do Good Only Company. With the intention of doing something useful instead of pointlessly lying in bed, I contacted Caroline, and this is how I came to know the SkillsUP Lab. To be honest, I joined the lab having no idea what to expect, and I was utterly and pleasantly surprised right upon my first interaction with the coaches and my fellow groupmates. Despite having worked for years in international academic environments, never had I seen such a diverse and inclusive group of wonderful, inspiring people.
It was an absolute delight to participate in the Power Skills sessions, which were fun and challenging at the same time. Every session challenged me to dig deeper into my subconscious, to know myself better and to push my limits. This helped me feel much more self-aware and confident, and I should also say that I have never had so much fun in any other class I have ever participated. Besides boosting my Power Skills, I have greatly benefited from the extensive job coaching at the SkillsUP Lab. I learned, for example, how to present myself, to get prepared for a job interview and to make an attractive CV and LinkedIn profile. The number of the visitors of my LinkedIn page was boosted shortly after these trainings, and the recruiters kept contacting me with job offers.
By the end of the program, thanks to the technical and Power Skills trainings, not only I had my professional data science certificate, but also I felt quite comfortable applying my knowledge in the field of data science. Through Caroline I have been introduced to the 510 initiative of the Dutch Red Cross, and I joined a team of wonderful professional volunteers to make humanitarian help more efficient using data science. I consider this project to be one of the most beautiful things I have done to date.
A year passed. It was another winter day when Wonny, the job coach at DGO, contacted me to bring a particular job advertisement into my attention. It was a very attractive opportunity: an interesting and important research position in a credible Dutch organization. It sounded like just the right career move for me. Nevertheless, I was skeptical: the research area, as interesting and attractive as it was, was different from my academic research line. Furthermore, they needed someone with rather advanced knowledge of Dutch. Therefore, I wasn’t sure if I had any chance to get the job. To be honest, I was not in the most optimistic mood that day, dealing the with seasonal flu again and facing an intense and ever-increasing workload.
The application deadline was on the same day, at mid-night, and I had little time to prepare the required documents. Countering all my reasons and arguments, Wonny encouraged me to apply anyway, and kindly offered to help me with the preparation. We managed to submit the application two minutes before the deadline, and few days later I was invited for the first interview. I had to go through three rounds of interviews, and I had the support of the SkillsUP Lab coaches the whole time. Now I cannot wait to start my dream job!
I will always consider myself a part of the SkillsUP Lab community, and I know that all the lessons I learned, along with all my beautiful memories from my time in the lab, will always stay with me.