“If you want to work abroad, just go for it”
Louise Lund is eager to travel. Throughout her time of study, she knew that she wanted to work abroad. Now, she is living the dream.
“I have studied in Sydney and London, and I took my internship in Stockholm. Combining travel and work is a luxury to me. There is so much to learn by going abroad,” Louise says.
Luckily, her boyfriend feels the same way. In the beginning of 2016, he went to work in Munich. Louise followed suit one year later, right after graduating with a Master in Civil and Structural Engineering from Aarhus University. She received three months’ worth of Danish unemployment benefit while she looked for a job in the German city. “It is a great privilege. So if you want to work abroad, just go for it. Getting a job is so much easier if you are in the area where you want to work,” Louise encourages. “Don’t let lacking language skills hold you back. I have not had German since upper secondary school, so it was very rusty. But I did my job seeking in English and took a couple of intensive courses in German.”
Fight the loneliness
Even though Louise spent her period of unemployment wisely, she still felt lonely at times when her boyfriend was at work. “When you study abroad, friends and contacts are handed to you on a silver platter. When you move abroad, you have to find them yourself. I joined a handball club, and now I have a larger social circle,” she tells.
A chance to work on big projects
It only took Louise a few months of job seeking before she was hired as a project engineer by Implenia, Switzerland’s leading construction and construction services company with strong positions in the German, Austrian and Scandinavian infrastructure markets. “I always wanted to work with tunnel construction. Building a tunnel takes up to 10 years, and it has to last forever. No Danish company offers the chance to work on projects this size,” she enthuses and goes on to mention some of the other benefits of working for a big international company: “Sometimes we work with colleagues from other offices in cities far away. We only meet every other week or so; consequently, you have to be well-prepared, set an agenda, and express yourself clearly. I have learned a lot from that. Furthermore, Implenia offers many courses and is very supportive of the employees’ initiatives.”
Sie or Du?
During her German courses, Louise learned that you have to be very formal when addressing people you do not know. You have to call them by their last name and use the formal personal pronoun Sie instead of the informal Du. “I was very nervous about offending my colleagues by not calling them Mr or Mrs Last Name. But it has been no problem. Many of my colleagues have been abroad and know that other cultures are less formal. We were on first-name terms from day one,” she says with a smile.
Even though Louise’s colleagues speak English very well, she still wants to improve her German. “As an example, I do not have the language proficiency to write an official email in German. I think you should be able to do that when you live here. Furthermore, I might meet people who do not speak English at our construction sites. Also, language is key to becoming part of the collegial community because it enables you to join the chat in the canteen,” she says.
So much to see
Louise loves living in Munich and has no intentions of returning to Denmark any time soon: “The Alps are only an hour away, and during the past few months, I have gone snowboarding almost every weekend. Last weekend, I went on a bike trip through The Czech Republic and Austria. We have so many opportunities right around the corner that I never imagined before coming here. There is still so much to see, so I am staying for a while.”
“Combining travel and work is a luxury to me. There is so much to learn by going abroad.”
Name: Louise Lund
Education: Master in Civil and Structural Engineering from Aarhus University
Employed by: Implenia
Lives in: Munich, Germany