Karina and Inge

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Photo: Suste Bonnén

"I couldn't have found time to mentor if it wasn't fun and stimulating," says Inge. Though her mentee Karina found a job after only two months, they keep working together.

Karina was born in Russia but lived in Israel for 12 years before she moved to Denmark in April 2008. She had no time to waste. She contacted KVINFO just two months after her arrival, when she was still learning her way around Copenhagen.

Karina has a BA in Languages from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and had worked in international sales and marketing. She felt ready to apply for a job in international sales, but did not know where to start looking. She found it very difficult to be unemployed.

Karina asked for a mentor who could introduce her to the right Danish websites, and perhaps help her with some job seeking techniques. She needed to have a better understanding of Danish labour market dynamics. And, of course, she needed a network as well. Karina was matched with Inge.

Inge has a Master's degree in Economics and started her career in 1988 as a business developer in the mortgage business. In the late 1990s she was responsible for setting up a retail bank based on the future concepts of internetbanking and multichannel services for the parent mortgage company. This was completed by 2007, at which point Inge went back to business development. She has recently participated in several due diligence projects as the project leader, and she is responsible for the post mortem integration process after the acquisition of a Danish bank. She has vast experience in recruiting staff for all sorts of jobs.

Inge became a mentor because she was well aware that unemployment is highly problematic for people who move to Denmark. She wanted to help, but she was also curious to find out why women with a good education, professional experience, and a foreign birthplace, have such trouble getting started in Denmark.

Both Karina and Inge look back at their first meeting and smile. They understood each other from the very outset, and the conversation had been nice and positive.

"I was sure she was going to find a job soon," Inge says. "Karina was very clear and eager. She just needed to look in the right places and slightly adjust her expectations."

Inge was right. She and Karina met for the first time on June 23 and by August 28 Karina had found a job in international sales.

How could this happen so fast? They agree on the fact that they kept the mentor relationship open but professional. They set some goals and tried literally to ‘stick' to them.

"It would have been silly not to do so," explains Karina. "Inge has all this knowledge and skills, and I needed guidance and a role model. Every time we meet and I have all these questions, I'm confident that we will find the answers, and we do!"

Inge says that it has not only been about the purely professional aspect. "I couldn't have found time to mentor if it wasn't fun and stimulating. Despite the age gap, we like each other and I get the feeling that whatever I know is making a difference for someone else."

Now that she has a job, they have new challenges to face. Karina has to become more fluent in Danish. She also wants to be proactive in order to face the potential consequences of the global economic downturn. Both Karina and Inge think that it would be great to have time to share some cultural activities in the future.

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