Moving to another country with a suitcase full of dreams and a heart full of hope, many migrants quickly encounter a reality that’s far from their expectations. Imagine Sandra, who left her home country with a degree in engineering and years of experience, only to find that after 6 months and 100s of aplications, she can only do an apprenticeship below her qualifications. Or Lara, who had to swap her teaching career for a job in a warehouse because she couldn’t get her teaching credentials recognized. Their stories are not just narratives; they represent the lived experiences of countless individuals seeking a better life in Europe. When I started this project, I’ve heard too many tales of individuals feeling demoralized, questioning their own abilities and worth.

This journey, often marked by the struggle to prove one’s worth, can feel like a relentless battle against doubt. The constant questioning of your professional background, the painstaking effort to learn a new language, and sometimes the daunting task of rebuilding your career from scratch—it’s a test of resilience. It’s not just about finding a job; it’s about fighting to preserve your self-esteem when the system seems to view you as less qualified simply because you’re not local.

Here’s the Reality:

Migrant women constitute a significant portion of the migrant population in Europe, facing what is described as a “double disadvantage” due to the intersectionality of being both a woman and a migrant. For instance, migrant women represent around 46% of the migrant population in Europe. Despite a share of tertiary-educated similar to that of native-born women and migrant men, women born outside of the country are more likely to be over-qualified for their job and less likely to be employed. In particular, in the European Union, 26% of migrant women are in low-skilled jobs, with a significant overrepresentation in household services. This situation is exacerbated by precarious, insecure, and informal employment conditions, leading to greater risks of job loss without access to severance pay or social security.

But amidst these tales and grim statistics, there are also stories of success—of those who navigated this painful journey and emerged successful and perhaps wiser.

Strategies to Stay Confident and Adapt:

  • Boost Your Language Skills: First off, forget the idea that you can land a dream job without speaking the local language. It’s essential, even for the “mythical” tech and highly sought after jobs. I’ve seen too many assume they can bypass this step, only to hit a wall. Dive into language courses—many are subsidized or low-cost through NGOs, community centers, or online. Being able to communicate will not just boost your job chances; it makes everyday life and dealing with bureaucracy a whole lot easier.
  • Validate Your Skills: You’re already skilled and educated. Now, make sure your new home knows it. Platforms are out there to validate your credentials (Recognition of foreign university degrees in Austria – nostrification ( for Austria, for Germany). And if you need to brush up or gain new skills, there are courses for that. Many are offered for free or subsidized. More on this in future newsletters. Don’t let your talents go unnoticed because of a technicality.
  • Network and Find Mentors: Your next job probably won’t come from a job ad; it’ll come through people. Hit up industry meetups, professional forums, and events. Find mentors who’ve walked this path before. Their guidance can be invaluable, giving you insider tips and strategies that only come from experience.

When the Going Gets Tough:

  • Mind Your Mental Health: Moving countries is tough. Seek out support services, and don’t let stress get the best of you. Find what relaxes you—be it exercise, meditation, or a hobby—and make time for it. My tip: Hobbies also help you integrate and feel at home and might even help with that language leraning faster.
  • Prioritize Personal Growth: The best way to build confidence? Keep expanding your skills and knowledge. Whether it’s a workshop, a course, or a seminar, staying engaged with your industry will keep you sharp and ready. It will also help explain gaps in the CV and demonstrate integration in your new country.
  • Shift Your Mindset: Hit pause on the self-doubt soundtrack and play some positive affirmations instead. Remind yourself of your strengths and potential. Belief in yourself is half the battle.
  • Celebrate Your Successes: Take time to reflect on your successes, no matter how small. Finished a language course? That’s a win. Made a new professional contact? Another win. These are your reminders that you’ve got skills and you’ve made progress.
  • Lean on Your Support Network: Don’t go it alone. Share your ups and downs with friends, family, or mentors. Just talking about your journey can provide a fresh perspective and the boost you need to keep going. Join groups with people facing similar challenges. Shared experiences can boost your confidence and sense of belonging.

I know, every rejection might feel like a door slamming shut, but don’t let that deter you. Instead, see it as a nudge towards the yes that is waiting just around the corner.

Remember, the journey towards finding fulfilling work in a new country is a marathon, not a sprint. Embrace the highs and lows, and know that with each step, you’re not just searching for a job; you’re carving out a place for yourself in a new world. Stay determined, be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way.

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