Text: Josephine Wan
Many internationals tend to focus on bigger organisations with a global working environment during their job search. It is easier if you live in one of the bigger cities; however, international organisations can be rare in the smaller provinces.
Practice makes perfect
There is no reason not to apply for jobs at Danish speaking workplaces, even if your Danish is not proficient enough. Apply for jobs by writing an application in non-polished Danish, and let the companies decide whether they would like to give you a chance, it might surprise you. If they hire you, they hire you with the full knowledge that you have level entry Danish, and your colleagues will be considerate when communicating with you. Insist on using Danish in your daily communication with them, even though some prefer to communicate in English. This way, you get to practice and master the language at a corporate level. Colleagues may make fun of your errors or pronunciation occasionally, but don´t take it personally. Danes have a lot of humour, and it is totally harmless.
At most small Danish workplaces, traditions are celebrated very often at work. You will learn about them and how they are marked. Cakes are involved in most celebrations in Denmark. For example, you may have already known that it is the birthday person who treats other colleagues to cake on their birthday. Round birthdays are highly celebrated here in Denmark, and colleagues usually make it a special day for the birthday person. On my 40th birthday, my colleagues raised the Danish flag outside the building for me. This probably would not happen if you worked in a large corporation unless you were one of the directors. This is one of the charms of working in smaller Danish workplaces.
Your work family
Most employees at smaller firms tend to stay longer, some even for over 20 years as you might experience. Colleagues have to work together and get to know each other. Besides chatting about small things, they also provide support and comfort when you are having a bad day or going through a hard time. In my experience, going to work feels like coming home to your second family.
"The so-called screw-up cake (kvajekage) is incredibly famous and popular at Danish workplaces! With the flat structure, you usually don´t get “punished” for making a mistake - and one way to make it right again is to treat others to a cake!"
Unique Danish work culture
Apart from the well-known flat structure and casual dressing code at Danish workplaces, you also experience an interesting work culture. A perfect example: the so-called screw-up cake (kvajekage) is incredibly famous and popular at Danish workplaces! With the flat structure, you usually don't get “punished” for making a mistake - and one way to make it right again is to treat others to a cake because you have screwed up. Yes, cake again – it’s throughout the Danish thread!
Future job searches
You’ve experienced your first job in a Danish environment and will have gained a lot of cultural insight. Your future job searches no longer limit you to only global organisations. You can also use your own experience to help other internationals in their job search too.
Feel like home in Denmark
Work does take up a considerable part of our life. If you plan to stay in Denmark for many years or settle permanently, working in a Danish environment, practising the language, experiencing the culture and traditions, and adopting a second work family will make you feel more home in Denmark.