Onpartu Cohort: 2015
Mentor: Liz Kilford
Education: Masters in Environmental Protection
In her native Poland, Aleksandra worked as a laboratory contractor until the 2008 financial crisis left her unemployed. Despite her three university degrees all she could find for months was work as a supermarket cashier. “Totally disappointed”, she left for the UK.
The first few months on the island were very difficult for Aleksandra. She survived thanks to a good friend, until she found work as a nanny - “maybe not my dream” - she said it was still something. At the same time she studied English at a language school, without which she had little hope of using her qualifications. Aleksandra had several nanny positions, a few of them very difficult, which spanned a total of five years. When she could not take it anymore, she quit her job without a new one to start.
Aleksandra eventually found a lab technician position in a company that a friend’s flatmate worked for, and he personally handed her CV to his manager. Aleksandra was briefly reminded of her potential in the interview, when it was the company that tried to convince her to join rather than of the other way around. Aleksandra finally transitioned into her previous industry at the lowest level, earning less than what she was spending, but knowing that this investment into her future would pay off. Nevertheless, she still greatly lacked confidence regarding job security and approaching her boss about issues that mattered to her. Feeling like she needed help, Aleksandra searched for a development course and came across Onpartu. For her, joining was about making progress.
The programme was the final piece in the puzzle for Aleksandra. It resulted in a much shorter and effective CV (cut from three pages to one) that better reflected her strong experience; it provided an understanding of how to behave in professional environments in general and how to present oneself in interviews; and it helped to respond to job advertisements properly and to write good cover letters. What is more, this experience did not stay with Aleksandra alone - “it wasn’t only about me” - as she shared her knowledge with her friends and is sure that in the end a wide network benefitted. One of the most beneficial outcomes was that the programme gave her the confidence to approach her boss to address some issues that needed resolving and to ensure she improves her position.
Aleksandra’s company moved her to a new lab in Cheshire as a senior employee whilst covering the costs of the transition. She is now training within the company by sitting exams for new qualifications and title with a higher salary: “a lot is up to me,” she says.
Aleksandra interviewed with the business partners of a different company and was offered a position straight away. Even though she did not take it, she knows that the region is full of industry and feels sure about her future prospects.