How long have you been living in Poland? When did you come and why Poland?
I’ve lived here for eight years. I come from a little town in Czech Republic, around 40 km west of Prague, which means I had never come into contact with the Polish language before the relocation. Why Poland? My answer won’t surprise anyone. Love, obviously! I met a Pole during studies and he came back home with me after Erasmus :)
How did you find your relocation process?
In hindsight, I think it went well. Of course there were some difficulties, but I was prepared for them. I approached everything with a smile, humbleness and a dictionary :). People in the city offices were always trying to help. You need to be patient, accept the differences and stand up for yourself. First and foremost, you can’t give up. During relocation you get to know yourself better - I think moving here made me realize I was truly an adult. I’ve always been grateful to my boyfriend’s family and my colleagues for their support.
What was your first impression of the country?
I was positively surprised by almost everything. I know it sounds funny now, but I liked the fact that ham was made of meat, that strawberries cost 5 zlotys per kilogram and tomatoes smelled like tomatoes. The streets of Warsaw were clean. There were security guards at underground stations. I soon found out that Poland looks different from what I was told in Czechia.
Could you tell us a little bit about your work experience? What has your career path looked like so far?
When I was moving to Poland, I took a chance on love. I didn’t speak any Polish, didn’t write or understand anything. I’d been teaching my boyfriend Czech because I’d thought we would live in Czechia. I was wrong. I realized that I was beginning a new life in Poland and that probably I would have to give up on my dreams, no matter what degree I held. Before I came to Poland I worked as a receptionist in student halls of residence and had little real work experience.
I’m really glad that in 2014 I applied for the position of Czech translator at Westwing. I was given a huge opportunity to help develop the Czech market. I still work for the same company today and manage an operational team creating campaigns in three countries on two platforms. It’s amazing how far I’ve come. I feel fulfilled. I repaid the trust that was placed in me at the start of my career path. I’m glad I could get to know the ins and outs of the e-commerce industry. Obviously it was not always easy. Behind my success are hours of hard work and a lot of tears, but it was worth it.
What is most satisfying about your job now?
I’ve never encountered any barriers in my job, as they say, “the sky’s the limit” - I’ve worked in different roles, supporting and developing the business. My dream was to have a job that would also be my hobby and it came true. I like combining creative work with coordination, project planning, process optimization and team management.
What is the role of your team in the company? What are the biggest challenges facing your team at the moment?
We upload data to the system and translate thousands of products every day to provide our customers with a daily dose of home & living inspiration. Our biggest challenge is finding passionate, engaged people who are interested in the ecommerce industry. When it comes to the Czech-Slovakian team, relocating candidates to Warsaw is also quite challenging.
What kind of candidates is your company most interested in at the moment?
Currently I’m looking for two Team Leaders to join the Czech-Slovakian team. One of them will be responsible for product content, the other for creative content. Since we are continuously growing, we are also looking for Junior/E-commerce Specialists with Czech and Slovak.
Are there many foreigners currently working for your company?
Yes, of course. Over the last decade we have created several teams that hire foreigners in our Warsaw office. Sometimes it feels like the tower of Babel: we speak Polish, English, German, French, Czech, Slovak, Dutch, Spanish and Italian. I love this international atmosphere and the company’s openness.
What helped you most in the process of adjusting to work in a new place like Poland?
Understanding that if I want to live in Poland, I need to be at one with Polish people, not against them or the country. Searching for things I miss or making comparisons won’t help. Once I understood that, I became open to Poland. You need to figure out why you want to live in a different country, what your motivation is. It is very important to be determined, patient, open to people and prepared that if you fall, you need to get up and keep going. If you work for it, success will come eventually.
How is your Polish? Can you share your learning history and progress?
My approach is rather unusual. I’ve never attended any courses, I’m self-taught. All I did was watch tv shows, read magazines with a dictionary in my hand and jot down words used by my colleagues. I don’t even remember when exactly I started speaking. I’ve always felt accepted in our company, no one has ever told me that they don’t get what I’m saying. I really appreciate that. It has given me more courage and helped become more open. I am very grateful that no one has ever laughed at my accent or typos in emails.
What advice would you give to your friends who consider working in Poland?
That everything starts with the first step. It is natural to be scared, not knowing what to expect. Luck favours the prepared.
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