October 3, 2022

New job, new country: an exciting journey into the unknown

November 2021: I decided it was time for a change. I had spent years retraining and flitting around trying odd jobs that didn’t directly use my hard-won scientific qualifications. My employment wasn’t satisfying me and there was no room for progression. I wanted to use my brain and finally get a ‘proper job’, as my mum would put it. After all, it would be a shame to waste my decades of training and education.

Then came the scary part; job applications. Everyone who has ever looked for job knows how mind numbing it is just searching day in, day out. It’s also terrifying to face uncertainty and make the leap into a new career after so long doing something completely unrelated. I feared rejection and failure, and was also concerned how full time work would affect my personal life, as I had recently finished my maternity leave, and my husband was still working part time. But we both agreed it was high time I left my unfulfilling previous role, and that this move would be best for the family in the long run. So, I got looking.

I found kdm’s advert on LinkedIn pretty early on, and it looked like a dream come true. In fact, I couldn’t believe that the job existed; remote working, science communication, no previous writing experience necessary, immediate start… the list of pros went on. To be honest, I had dismissed kdm as a definite rejection when I was asked a few weeks later for an interview, as I really didn’t think I was suitable for the job. I expected kdm to drop me after the interview anyway, so I just told myself that the experience was useful for the future, and did my best. Obviously, I got the job, which is still a shock to me, even now.

My transition into the new role was enjoyable and relatively straightforward. I found it easy to fit in because of the plentiful instruction and training, and the hugely welcoming bunch of colleagues (all a little insane, but lovely nonetheless). I did suffer from impostor syndrome for a while, I have to admit, and lived in daily expectation of being fired, or of flunking my probationary review. Eventually though, I came to terms with the fact science communication and I suited each other, and that I was a valued and important member of the ever-growing team at kdm. I felt guilty at first when I started to work as I had to hand over some of the childcare duties to my husband and spend a little less time with my son in the daytime. But the benefits of the job far outweighed the inconveniences, and the boost to my mental health was enormous.

I had just settled in and recovered from this big change, when another came along; moving to another country. My husband is Czech, and for years we had been talking about relocating to his homeland. For several reasons, we concluded that this was the right thing to do. It was just a matter of timing. We knew that in August 2022, our tenancy would run out on our flat in London, and that was the final push we needed to get the gears in motion. It was a long process, as can be imagined, and many legal things are still ongoing, but the kdm team has been enormously supportive and positive throughout. It’s great to be part of a flexible company that adapts to cater for the needs of each individual, and my co-workers’ encouragement and never-ending supply of humour has been invaluable in the short time I have been in the Czech Republic.

It’s a beautiful country, and I’m surrounded by mountains and trees. The lifestyle is relaxing, and the cost of living is refreshingly reasonable in comparison to London. This is a great opportunity for a new start, and we’re excited to bring up our son in this environment. Despite being glad overall about our move, applying to work abroad certainly has its challenges. The extraordinary levels of bureaucracy make UK labour laws seem liberal, and there is a marked non-existence of customer service. Things in my city are slow, with sporadic office opening hours and a frustrating lack of urgency deeply embedded in the very traditional Czech culture. My limited language skills don’t do me any favours either, it has to be said! Life over here is certainly a far cry from the fast-paced, anonymous and digital existence I was used to in the UK. In the midst of all the instability and upheaval, my family and my job have been the two main anchors helping me to stay grounded and giving me some kind of structure. I would definitely say that being able to keep my position with kdm has taken a huge weight off my shoulders, at least in one area of my life.

The feeling of guilt over shirking parental responsibilities still hasn’t completely gone away yet, but having a sense of purpose each day is good for my mind and gives me a much-needed psychological break from my everyday mum duties. I’m continually learning and (hopefully) improving my writing skills, something I get immense satisfaction from. Professional development and a sense of direction are important to me, and that’s part of the reason why kdm caught my attention in the first place. I have many opportunities to hone my abilities, and lots of constructive feedback, which I gladly take on board! I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me at kdm, and to welcoming more newcomers into this mad but wonderful company.

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