I made a pact with myself in my mid twenties: learn something new every year.
The idea was to challenge myself, to push me out of my comfort zone and to maintain the sense of thrill in my life. Over the years I have accomplished some big things like: learning to downhill ski, running a marathon, trekking the Great Wall of China, travelling alone (albeit only for two days!), practicing Bikram yoga on a regular basis (hot, oh so hot!). Not bad I like to think.
Some of the challenges I must admit have been more ambitious than others.
Like in 2014: move to Norway.
I quickly realised that this was just a heading of a challenge with lots of sub-challenges that sat underneath it (all just as huge!) like: learn Norwegian, get a job, make new friends. You could say that 2014 was a big year – so big that the challenges have trickled over into 2015.
Volunteer experience for the CV
Breaking into the Norwegian work market has been the toughest part for me. I will admit it. I am still not entirely there yet but one huge step forward for me was getting some meaningful volunteering opportunities. I have always volunteered in one way or another since I was a teenager. Fundraising, mentoring fellow students in university, mentoring school pupils later on, working with children in the criminal system – there are so many ways to contribute. But here in Norway I knew I had to be a bit more strategic about volunteering my time. I needed to build some work networks (I have heard from many that a huge percentage of jobs are not advertised in Norway) and to get some Norwegian experience on my CV.
In my hunt for things to do I came across Prospera based in Oslo, their slogan is ”Being successful for someone else”. It is an organisation that offers pro-bono consultancy to social entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organisations and projects. It works with a network of professionals that donate their time and expertise to help organisations that have limited budgets but worthy causes.
Prospera has an ever growing network of consultants that offer anything from communications to legal consultancy.
I thought brilliant, what a fantastic idea. I also happened to notice they were advertising for a project manager role. I applied and got to talk to Anne Aaby the CEO of Prospera. In a few weeks I was helping a lady out with a small start up project called Sykling Uten Alder (roughly translated: ageless cycling), using my project management background and skills to help her apply for funding and create some simple project management tools for her future use.
It was just the boost I needed. I got to feel useful, practice my Norwegian, meet more people AND contribute to something meaningful. And as an extra bonus it helped break that monotonous cycle of rejection that is job hunting!