"This perspective is to me that organizations believe in the academic immigrants: that they can add value to the job market. It is a beautiful country, but it's not less beautiful when we have outsiders. This is the perspective that I could see, how open, tolerant and accepting the co-workers are. This is MTOP for me."
What’s your name, how old are you and where are you from?
My name is Nour Zaza, I’m 37 years old and I was born in Kuwait, I’m Syrian. I’m in Austria for one year now and I am registered as a refugee. As a lactation consultant and nutritionist I wanted to have a career and build a new life here in Austria.
What was your biggest challenge after coming to Austria and how did you deal with it?
The first year has been so hard for me, before I found the job with your guys’ help. But at the same time, this “saying” going around that all academics are not working in their field but doing something else, is very depressive, not something that is promising. I was afraid of not being able to work. I did do my classes to learn the language. I did do the transfer of my certificates and to make them become acceptable here. And still, I couldn’t find a job. So, this unemployment situation was the worst thing that happened to me.
What did you study in Kuwait?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business, a Master’s degree in nutrition, and I’m an international board certified lactation consultant. I help mums breastfeed, so I’m a “Stillberaterin”. At the moment, I help some friends here and there after they give birth. I mean, that’s my greatest passion. I think now or later, I would love to go back to doing this.
My dream is to have this “Praxis” for helping mums to breastfeed, with their nutrition and maybe with childbirth education - I have a certificate for that as well. Like a mum and baby center, where baby services are there, with a lot of community feeling and cozy atmosphere (smiles). Where they can feel they receive reliable sources of information. Somewhere where they feel safe, supported, empowered. I did that in Kuwait for 7 years, I worked in a hospital, I had my own practice. I did house visits, I did in-house consultations, and nutrition counseling and worked in nutrition centers.
"Also, there was this beautiful family and emotional support. I have never felt more comfortable since I came here."
How did you reach out to MTOP?
A friend of mine works at a job center and also supports refugees to prepare them for the labour market. He has heard a lot of good reviews about MTOP and told me that he was in contact with you. He knows that you guys are doing a good job and that if I needed help, MTOP were the experts.
How did the programme best support you?
Supporting me in enhancing my CV was very significant, so that it suited the labour market in Vienna, in terms of personal touch. So that it could represent me. Not just sending like a random “fill out” thing. It was very powerful, now the CV is what I stand for. There were a lot of personalized questions and interviewing to dig deeper for relevant information to put on the CV, and not just data. .
This personalization of my CV and also the professional photos is what I’m really thankful for. That was amazing. Also, there was this beautiful family and emotional support. I have never felt more comfortable since I came here. I was talking with like-minded people, open, welcoming, for the first time I felt competent. For the first time I felt that I am up for the standards of Austria. Before, I never felt welcome just because my language wasn't sufficient for the market, but the work with MTOP was so empowering. I really cannot describe my emotions. I really benefited from the 1:1-coachings. I benefited from having other people who were really competent colleagues. MTOP was really a positive place to be. Because you know, if you are with a circle of friends, you're either with people who already found a job or complaining about not having a job, and both ways are negative.
And then with the people from MTOP, it was really great. It was like family. Even the teachers of the in-depth classes, not only the MTOP team. But also the “German for business” teacher was really amazing and sympathetic. See, the program ended a couple of months ago and I still remember you all!
So what did you do after the Associate Programme? What are you currently doing?
I was contacted by Incus thanks to MTOP’s contacts. Anna and other people were looking for different opportunities for me. We were in contact about it, I approved job opportunities and then, either me or you guys would submit my application for the job.
And then I got contacted by the CEO of Incus. And I think I was hired from the first interview on (smiles). It was so cool. And it's been three months now. Plus I have finished my probation period. And from Day 1, I was so happy. It's a very nice organization. And till today, three months later, I'm still so happy and as excited about what they're doing. And we can multiply that excitement by 6 because it's not my field, it's not something that is matching my professional portfolio so you can imagine how amazing they are for me to switch my plan and follow theirs (laughs).
"My heart is warm, it’s amazing."
What was different in Austria compared to your working environment in Kuwait?
The possibilities and opportunities. The fact that some places are really tolerant and accepting of others, seeing the potential. Because I am so grateful that Incus has seen my potential. Again, I'm not matching their portfolio, and still, my German is not perfect. This is very much different than where I come from where employment happens only due to qualification. No experience in this field, no chance for you - vs. the openness of the environment at Incus from the first day on! They are a start-up, they have been there for three years and they're expanding like crazy. So I'm so happy to work for that company, even if I just recently joined. I have to tell you this: we went to a place outside Vienna, like a four hour-drive and we did a three day long retreat, only for team building activities, only for having fun, only for getting to know each other. It's amazing how much they are investing in their employees. And that gives me this relief that ok, I am not going to be replaceable. Because if you're investing that much, that means you believe that these people are significant, and you want to keep them for longer. It's not like “come and go out, quick, quick, whoever can do the work for three months and then leave”. And this is something amazing. Everyone I tell that I’m working there, wants to work there, too (laughs)!
Can you tell us a little bit about the tasks that you're doing there?
I started as a lab assistant but from the first moment on, I was given the title of manufacturing technician, which is “higher” than the lab assistant. The company does 3D printers. We build them and we print. The printing is in the metal industry. So, I do mixing of chemicals, I operate the machines, I do after care of the machine after finishing the printing. I work in the Research and Development Department. So, we are also developing and basically trying new materials, new tools. This is a very dynamic work environment. We have a lot going on, and there is a lot of respect among the team. Even if I'm one of the newest people, I have the chance to work in the research and development operations. As the company is quite new, all of these new jobs are going to be the core of Incus that is going to grow. Even though I am not a founder, but In a couple of years, the people who were there from the beginning will be the core team. It's a very good opportunity for growth - even in the personal career ladder. It is one of the fastest growing technologies, especially in the metal field. Not many companies are doing this, this is very young, innovative. My heart is warm, it’s amazing.
"I feel so safe, I feel accepted. "
What would you say is the most beautiful thing when you think about your job?
It's an amazing young-hearted work environment. So, the people. It's amazing because of the people, the people at this organization are very welcoming, multicultural, tolerant, open-hearted. They are very flexible in terms of working hours and everything around. It's well located, we get free coffee and fruit every day. My company really cares for its people. They look for our day-to-day satisfaction. They’re moving in a very expensive market. Yet, they are valuing the human factor.
And what's been your biggest challenge at work so far?
Not much. I think the challenge is always being the new outside person, right? Because you will always have these doubts of you fitting in. And I can say, German hasn't been a challenge. I don't think there is anything significant because I feel so safe, I feel accepted. I can't say that there are major challenges that I can mention because it's been going so great. I can even say that for someone that is coming from outside the community and the industry, I could feel less safe, but their behavior is totally the opposite. I mean, I feel so safe, so balanced. Yes, I have only one challenge: I live so far away. Can you find me an apartment near to Seestadt? (laughs)
What was the biggest change in your life since you have started working?
My biggest challenge was feeling safe. It was so hard for me to feel secure because I didn’t have a job. Finding a job gave me this grounding that I can be financially independent. I can really start my life here because I’m someone who is lucky to have friends, who speaks the language early-on to some extent, I’m lucky to be speaking English. Not having a job was my real barrier to being happy. Once I got the job, I think I have this security that I can have a life in this country.
What are your next goals?
My next goals are to strengthen my German skills. I retook the B2 exam. I’m meeting my managers for the yearly interview and I think then, I’ll be looking for a master’s degree, or if there are any further training opportunities to help me grow within the company. I think education is (besides finding an apartment) my goal.
And what does ‘More Than One Perspective’ mean to you?
This perspective is to me that organizations believe in the academic immigrants: that they can add value to the job market. It is a beautiful country, but it's not less beautiful when we have outsiders. This is the perspective that I could see, how open, tolerant and accepting the co-workers are. This is MTOP for me. The perspective of what these immigrants can bring to the job market. They can be a positive giving part of the community. I think it's the belief in second chances because these people deserve a second chance, multiple chances to get the opportunity to prove themselves, that they can do something and they can be a positive giving part of the community.
"Ask yourself what you love to do, follow your passions, start from zero and follow your dream job. "
Last question from our side: do you have any specific life motto?
It is never too late to start something new, never too late to learn a new language. Opportunities are laying around, they are just waiting for us to be curious enough, to look for them, to find them and to explore them. As our interview is probably going to cater to people who are looking for a job, I would say: it’s a beautiful country, full of opportunities – for those who want to explore them: just be open to look beyond what you were doing, where you came from. And explore these opportunities with acceptance, openness and gratitude. There are a lot of opportunities. And it’s a country that really fosters later education. So the opportunities are endless. Ask yourself what you love to do, follow your passions, start from zero and follow your dream job.