Career success story: Alexandra Dobrinoiu

With a huge interest in project management and a very international profile, Alexandra is an ambitious and determined person. Coming from the capital of Romania at only 27 years old, she has managed to find her own way to success by keeping very high her level of positivism and never giving up her dreams.

The journey before settling down in Denmark

Alexandra’s adventures in the Danish land started before she actually moved to this Scandinavian country, which was 4 years ago. To begin with, in Romania, she studied a bachelor in International Studies and European Relations at the University from Bucharest and also completed a master programme in Human Resources at the same university.

During the first year of her bachelor studies, she started working for a non-governmental organization from Denmark specialised in educational programmes. It was called International Education Center and the focus of the activity was on Educational programmes, European integration, external politics, etc: I was a trainer so I met a lot of high school teenagers. I liked the idea of travelling and sharing experiences. We were all the same age. It was a very cool experience at that point, especially because Romania had just become part of the European Union in 2007.

She recalls with joy the beginning of a new adventure: After couple of years of working and collaborating in different projects with this organisation, the manager recommended me to choose an education in Denmark, so I would be able to work with them afterwards. And this is how she ended up in Denmark!

She was very lucky as through her work she had the chance to visit the country a bit beforehand; cities such as Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg, Odense, Svendborg, so she also started to like the country.

Student life

As mentioned before, Alexandra came to Denmark 4 years ago in order to continue her education with a master degree programme in International Studies, at Aarhus University.

After starting my education, I managed to find a position as a student assistant for an NGO in Aarhus called Global Citizen, which works with projects for sustainability.

She also took an internship as part of her studies, at United Nations, in Copenhagen, in the department of UNDP, where she worked with different projects: I liked very much the idea of working with projects, the fact that I know there is a beginning and a finish line for a project. I also had a subject at school called project management, so I developed a huge interest in this field.

Insight from the application and recruitment process

I am not going to say it’s easy, because it wasn’t. It took me one year to land this job. And meanwhile I was job searching a lot and completed a 4 months virksomhedspraktik, which didn’t end up with a job.

Like any other graduates she has received many rejections especially from those positions she really thought would be a match for. She used the most known websites from Denmark such as AU job bankjobindexjobnet, etc until she finally found THE job ad that was going to be her luck: It was a Danish speaking project assistant position for a Belgian company and, indeed, I really wanted to find a job within project management. For this position, the requirements were English, Spanish, and of course Danish. I am not very fluent in Danish, but I think the most important qualifications from my profile were my knowledge about project management and my international experience. 

She had two interviews: the first one was a phone interview with the company from Belgium. It was a normal interview, where she was asked almost all the standard questions like: Why did you apply for the job? / What would you to in a certain situation? - basically all the standard questions. She was also told what her responsibilities would be.

Then, she had the second interview in Aarhus. She used to have interview experience in Denmark from 4 other possible job positions. However, this interview was in Danish: We all know all those 44 questions one can be asked during an interview. Well, I wasn’t asked any of these. It was a very informal interview. I was told what I am supposed to do in the position. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, we could also joke and laugh… and you can imagine I am not that fluent in Danish.

She remembers she was a bit nervous too (which is perfectly normal), but the interview was more about agreeing on the details and meeting her in order to see whether she would fit the team from Aarhus.

Was your network a key factor for you? No, it was a classical application. I saw it, I saved it and I tried to write my application as soon as possible. So in my case it wasn’t about networking! 

Working for a Belgian company in Denmark… using English, Spanish and Danish

She really loves her present job: I find it very interesting because I could use my communication skills and my knowledge about project management and also the opportunity to improve my Danish language in a professional context and meanwhile, to use the other two languages I speak: English and Spanish.

The position is as a Project Assistant for Xplanation Denmark, which is a company in the field of Translations Consultancy. They translate manuals and guides for any kind of products and work with companies such as Danfoss, Vestas, Jysk: Basically, the first and most important task in my position is to manage the communication between the customers and the people who make the translations and revisers. Then, I also do a lot of following up for all my projects and quality management.

Or, in a more formal way, she is completing the following tasks: supporting the Danish branch with project management, allocating the projects the best translation, planning customised solutions for specific projects, ensuring the communication flow between customers, translation partners, revisers.

At the moment, she is learning how to work with the new operating system: I am learning a lot at this moment and I like this very much. I like when I communicate with the customers and the other stakeholders.

Is it true? Are Danes weird or not?

So far, she hasn’t worked in a company where almost 100% of the colleagues would be Danes. She is the only international person, working among 14 Danes and another person who is half German, half Danish – quite a Success!

She says it is very different and also a bit challenging, especially in her situation: If the company’s language is Danish, then you have to live up to the expectations. Most of the times, I am trying to understand what they are explaining me in Danish, because it is also a way I can improve my language skills, but of course, if there is something I don’t understand, they will always tell me in English.

However, as a working environment, it is very informal: The relationship I have with my boss is very open and I can’t feel the hierarchy.

Romanian organisational culture VERSUS Danish working culture

She doesn’t have that much Romanian working experience, but the one she has had, was a bit chaotic, because the people weren’t very organised.

When asked about Danes, she has only positive statements: Danish people are very service-oriented. They are also very effective and they want to save their work time very rigorously. They like and respect deadlines.

She thinks the biggest difference is that Danes always try to find solutions without wasting time on things that can take up one’s space.

Positive thoughts for everyone who is job searching

I don’t think my advice is very original but what comes first to my mind is that they should never give up! They shouldn’t get disappointed by the first rejections.

And she continues smiling: Everyone will find a job. No matter how hard it is (because I know it is), don’t give up! It is also a matter of luck. Tomorrow is another day and maybe you will find a job that you would like to write an application for.

More than that, I think they should focus all their energy on the working area they would like to work with and to become better in that field.

I didn’t do anything special. I just applied, but remember: not randomly! I think this is the key!