Stockholm chronicles part 24: A fresh start

As you may or may not know, I came from Ireland to Sweden around 6 months ago after I quit my job at the computer games publisher Electronic Arts. The thumbnail pic of this article, that´s my wife and I on the day we arrived here. We had planned on moving country and settled on the idea to go to Scandinavia. Why? Because these countries are known to have great infrastructure, health care, fair salaries and a ton of other benefits but most important: Good weather, a proper summer and yearly seasons. I really do not mind the polar nights too much since it was barely daylight in Ireland during winter, too.

I thought: “How difficult can it be to get a job? I give it 1 month max. and I´ll be settled.” I had not been unemployed before. I´d always worked for the last 15 years and even if it was some crappy job cleaning parking lots at the age of 17. Money used to be scarce, so I needed to work. Screw unemployment benefits, I provide for myself. That is and always was my mindset. It should get pushed to the limit over the next 5 months.

I arrived here at the worst possible time, during summer break. Nothing was getting done around here, everyone was on vacation. Companies were closed, nobody replied. I wrote a lot of applications during this time and only heard back from 2 companies at all during that period which were not hiring but wished me best of luck. So it went on. My list of applications written got longer but the list of replies stayed the same. To this day I think I´ve heard back from a total of 5 or 6 companies. Not even a confirmation that the application had been received came back from the others. The weeks passed by and my financial savings I brought with me shrank. But still, I thought I´ll make it through. I decided I can´t possibly just sit around and do nothing all day. So I signed up at SFI, a language school for Immigrants. There I was studying since mid-August, learning the language from scratch. I continued to apply but never heard back from the vast majority of applications, not even a confirmation email. I have never experienced anything like this in my life.

I hit a really rough spot after I was rejected for an entry level customer service position, something that literally an 18 year old with no school diploma could have done. I don´t know why that was since they gave me no concrete reason for it but I remember that I was furious for over a week, especially at the rude email they sent me. All I wanted to do was work, earn money, serve a purpose again, challenge myself. Yet I was not allowed to do it. This wears a person down with time and it sure did with me. I am glad that, from day 1, I had established a strict and consistent routine. I would get up at 7 AM, go to school, after that hit the gym and then take care of the household, go shopping, cook and care for the cats. In between I spent countless hours working on my CV, cover letter or Linkedin profil and writing applications. If I hadn´t established this routine I´m not sure what would have happened.

Suddenly the tables turned. From one day to the next in November things got crazy. I heard back from two companies within a few days and scored on site interviews with both of them. I progressed through both interview processes, which in one case especially, were not easy. I´ve interviewed for many positions in my life but that process was the strictest and hardest I´d ever experienced. Anyways – It so happened that within two weeks I suddenly had the absolute luxury to choose between two fantastic job options. In the end I made my decision and signed my contract with an amazing computer games studio in Stockholm.

I am glad that, with the support of my wife, I made it through this period of time. Maybe it was good this happened. I had worked in great jobs, earning decent money. Maybe I had gotten too comfortable, too used to it. Having a good job was normal for me. In hindsight I did not appreciate it enough. I have learned a lot about myself during these last months and one of these things is to not take security, stability, independence or a good life for granted.

Sometimes in life you realize what you really had when it´s gone.



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