Maybe it is paranoia, but I am really worried I am going to run out of money this year. I still get student loan payments during regular, NZ University weeks (which haven’t started yet) but they barely cover my rent here in Denmark. So one of the first things I have been doing is looking for a job.
The other reason, which is probably more important, is that I believe that working in Denmark will not only be helpful for learning the language, but also for meeting the locals and getting a completely different perspective on the culture, something you don’t get as a tourist, or when lumped in with the International Students.
It is (unsurprisingly) quite difficult to find work when you don’t speak the local language. My options so far are bartending, waiting, cleaning, packing boxes and other such warehouse/labouring work. I will just about do anything! I was, however, quite excited when I saw that McDonald’s was hiring. Surely an International, food-based, American owned company would hire an English speaker with relevant hospitality experience. But alas as I got halfway through the application, it turns out they wouldn’t let me proceed because I am over 18 and they would therefore have to pay me more. I am now officially against Youth Rates, thank you very much Mr John Banks.*
Throughout the process I had read a fair bit about the Danish CV style being somewhat different to, well, the rest of the world. Working in NZ and Australia my experience (and that of sitting on the other side of the interview table and reading piles of CVs) is that brief, obvious bullet points of your relevant experience are at the top of the priority list. In Denmark, however, every piece of advice was to ‘use your CV to tell a story about yourself.’ This seemed a very odd concept, especially as there is fierce competition for jobs so you would think the less reading the better. Luckily there is a Career Centre on campus, and a specific office for International students who first of all read through my CV and ripped it to pieces with criticism, and then helped me re-write it in a completely different way. Along with a number of conventional tweaks, the main change was writing a paragraph after each job you have done which describes the outcomes of the job and the skills you gained and what you liked and disliked about each job. While in NZ there are a number of different ways to write a CV, the Danes seem to be quite specific about only using one or two types.
Another challenge is cutting down the size. I always find it difficult to stay under a word limit, so some helpful feedback on what experience to include for each job I was applying for was really good.
The next issue was the Danish-vs-English CV debate. At first I had read that a Danish CV and cover letter (although with the amount of description in your CV apparently cover letters aren’t that important and often aren’t read) will have a much greater competitive advantage. However, for certain jobs I have had to reconsider, as I feel it would be misleading to give a Danish CV when I don’t actually speak Danish. So depending on what is in the ad, how much communication will be required and what their process are I have only sent my CV in English. Lucky for me I have an absolutely wonderful housemate who helped me to translate my CV, or more accurately, did some incredible proof reading after I put it through Google Translate!
Fingers crossed I get some employment soon… or at the very least have some interesting experiences with Danish style job interviews…
*Not that the Act Party ever had my vote in the first place…