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Text: Valery Senichev
Finding one’s career is a topic which has been dealt with by the Centre for Integration of Foreigners (the Czech abbreviation is CIC) for many years. However, sometimes it is good to reconsider even things that have been working for many years. With the development of all fields, it is necessary to update our CVs and cover letters and make use of coaching elements, career counselling, and psychology.
That’s why the Žižkov Community Center came up with a unique workshop which took place on 7th June. The participants were CIC’s clients, some of whom had participated in the Atelier of Talents creative skills project earlier this year.
Career and professional development are important issues for all of us, regardless where we come from. However, foreigners who are new to the Czech environment may find it more difficult than locals to fully focus on them.
CIC has decided to cooperate with Petra Drahoňovská, an experienced career coach and expert on people’s personal brand on the labour market, who spends half a year in the Czech Republic and the other half in Latin America. Petra develops career counselling in Mexico, Guatemala and other countries and considers herself a global nomad.
The workshop created for CIC’s clients thus opened the topic of foreigners’ career. The main questions were whether to seek employment in a company or to be self-employed and how to make advantage out of being a foreigner to positively differ from others. Another topic of the workshop was one’s personal brand and how to use it to promote one’s skills.
At the beginning of the workshop the participants shared their expectations. The questions that were asked several times were: How to start a project and let everyone know it is mine? How to find out whether it is better for me to start a business or to get employed? How to build a positive image of myself? And how to use brand in work relations?
Brand Does Not Mean Fame
Petra explained what a personal brand consists of and how to approach it. When people hear the term personal brand, they often think of various VIP names, such as Steve Jobs in IT, Stephen Hawking in physics, Lionel Messi in football, Mick Jagger in music, etc. However, when talking about one’s personal brand, being famous is not everything. Not all leading figures have to be well-known, especially when they work in the field of medicine, youth-work, artificial intelligence, or photography.
According to Petra Drahoňovská, a personal brand consists of several interrelated elements: skills and knowledge, talent, values, passion, vision, presentation form, and uniqueness. There are also two blending levels: how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others.
How to make it clear what your personal brand involves? First of all, pay attention to what you are good at. It may also be helpful to think about what you find fulfilling. It is important to be consistent in promoting yourself and your skills and knowledge in various work situations. Recruiters often have a specific idea of what their employees’ brand is supposed to be like and they try to match it with the applicants during interviews. That’s also why the workshop included practical exercises, apps for improving online communication and specific tips for writing a CV.
The Advantage of Being Different
A particularly important question was: “How to make advantage out of being a foreigner?”
One of the participants was right to point out that there is a plenty of positive stereotypes about various nations. For example, Italians are seen as passionate and therefore an Italian who wants to open a restaurant is expected to be a passionate cook.
A name that sounds distinctive and an accent may sometimes be an advantage too, as it makes you stand out in a crowd. In the Czech Republic, a lot of men are called Jan and Čermáková is a female surname you will often come across. But what if your name is different?
When considering your career path, it may be useful to think about your expert knowledge. What are you excellent at and what is your talent? Is there something you could do all the time? What’s your passion?
Focus on what you believe in. The most important things are your values and preferences in life and at work. It is worth mentioning that it is not a handicap to have an unusual name and an accent. On the contrary, it is a factor which may help you succeed and stand out as disciplined and diligent individuals who can perfectly represent themselves and their origin and also show the benefits that foreigners bring to the Czech Republic.
You can learn more about the workshop and other activities and courses at CIC’s website www.cicpraha.org.