By Clara Vázquez

One of the most shocking thing that I encountered when I moved to Finland was how difficult was for me to find a job. I thought that Finland was a land full of opportunities, where the multicultural professionals were warmly welcome… but nowadays I have my doubts.

Where I used to live, in Spain, it was very noticeable to see the struggles of the crisis. Even though, I had a good job: I was working in the private sector as a Psychologist and Neuropsychologist, and I also was responsible for the Psychological Certification in a medical center. I thought that, once I move here to Finland, I could continue my career and be an active member of the society, as I was in Spain.

Besides my career, at that time, 5 years ago, I was able to speak English and Spanish fluently, so, when my child went to kindergarten, I started to look for a job. As I open my computer, I didn’t know how to look for a job here in Finland, so I started to search for an open vacancy in clinics, hospitals, schools, and medical centers. Language Finnish was always required. And then another surprise: What was Valvira?

I sent, literally, hundreds of CVs and no one called me back, and only a few people texted me back to say: “Thank you for the application, but unfortunately…”

Then, as my family here speaks Swedish, I decided to participate in an integration course in Swedish to learn the language and be able to communicate with the doctors, school and therapist of my son: he has autism and all his therapist were Swedish speakers, which means that his Swedish was improving more than his Spanish, and, at one point, it was very difficult for me to communicate with my son. So I learned Swedish, and I did my internship in Folkhälsan, but the Finnish language was required and I did not get a job.

After that, I decided to study Finnish, every day for 7 hours for 9 months. It allowed me to develop my internship in Niceheart, in the project Neighbourhood Mothers and I was there for almost 8 months. Finally, it was the first time after 5 years living in Finland that I felt that, with them, I was developing my career, my creativity, my vocation, taking experience, helping people actively, creating connections, and, at the same time, improving my Finnish.

This wonderful experience, together with my knowledge, brought me the opportunity to participate in a job interview (the second in my life, here in Finland), and I finally got the job. When I got the news, even if deep in me I knew that I deserved it, I couldn’t believe it, I was in shock for few days: I don’t need to speak for a while with Te-Toimisto? I don’t need to do more integration courses? I don’t have to study any more how to do a CV and a Cover Letter according to the Finnish parameters? Can I finally have a stable life, at least for a while?

It was shocking, but now I can believe it. And I know that I made it possible not alone, but together with many people and organizations that believed in me.

I will always have in my heart Arbis, Galimatias School, Nicehearts, and Neighborhood Mothers, because thanks to them, now I can help people in the same situation where I was.

Finding a job here in Finland in the mental health sector as an immigrant is, in my experience, possible but not easy: it took me 5 years and learn 2 new languages. If you are in the same situation that me, I can tell you that you are not alone. Don’t forget who you are and keep your focus on your objectives, even if you encounter many doors closed. Believe in yourself and sooner or later, something good for you is going to happen.

Thanks to all of you.

From my heart.

Clara Vázquez

Neuropsychologist and Guide in conscious education