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Patience and networking are key to settling in

Aarhus and Eastern Jutland is home to many internationally-minded companies and organisations contributing to this area's internationalisation. This month International Community gives the floor to Noelle Boucher, currently living in Aarhus and working as Office and Team Assistant at PEAK Wind.

Photograph: Noelle Boucher

Text: International Community

After meeting my “Danish connection” while studying at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, located in a beautiful beach town in California, I decided to move to Aarhus in August of 2019. Since then, I have had the experience of getting settled as an International in Denmark, building up a social and professional network all over again and finally being fortunate enough to land a job at PEAK Wind, a renewable energy consultancy firm located in Aarhus.

Prior international experience

Moving to Aarhus in 2019 was not my first rodeo as an international. Shortly after graduating from my undergraduate programme, I moved to Madrid, Spain, where I taught English for three years. During my time in Spain, I realised I had a passion for working across cultures and wanted to find a career supporting others in their international pursuits. This experience is what led me to pursue a master’s degree in International Education Management. Apart from the three years of experience living in Spain, I also lived six months in Malaysia.

Getting settled in Denmark

Before moving to Denmark, I worked in administrative roles supporting international students in the US, most recently at the University of California Berkeley. During my first six months in Denmark, my immigration status did not allow me to work. It was a challenge to move from a fast-paced lifestyle to a new environment where I had a lot of time on my hands. Over time, however, I established a routine and found different activities to keep myself busy, like learning Danish. While Danish is a challenging language to learn, it is certainly not impossible. I knew that learning Danish was essential to my integration (i.e., for my immigration status, finding a job, participating in family events etc.), so I put in a considerable effort learning it. I enrolled in Danish classes, watched Danish TV, found a Danish mentor, and practised speaking with my Danish mother-in-law. While speaking is not my strong suit, I can now understand a lot which has helped me in my current position. Even knowing some Danish goes a long way!

"Be patient in your job search. I truly believe things will happen if you put in the effort. It just takes time!" - Noelle Boucher

In addition to my Danish network, I have also built quite a solid international network here in Aarhus. Shortly after moving to Denmark, I got involved with the international communities Aarhus offers, such as The Spouse Community and The International Dual Career Network (IDCN). These communities have served as a great outlet to meet new people and learn about Danish society. My advice to anyone moving to Denmark, or any country for that matter, is to put yourself out there!

Advice for other job-seeking internationals

Like many other internationals in Denmark, the job search was not a walk in the park! It took 40-50 applications and around a year for me to land a job. Beyond just sending applications, I did a wide range of activities to heighten my chances of finding a job, such as: Attending international job seekers workshops through Aarhus Kommune, making a short 1-minute CV, and setting up daily job alerts on LinkedIn and Job Index. I also took up a 3-month unpaid internship, which helped me expand my network and expose me to the Danish working environment.

Apart from these things, networking was one of the most valuable things I did to land a job finally. In the end, it was also through my network I became aware of my current position. So my biggest tip for international job seekers is to be patient in their job search. I truly believe things will happen if you put in the effort. It just takes time!

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