i take advantage of every chance I get

The Georgian Natalia came to Belgium in 2014. She graduated in her homeland with a bachelor in pedagogy, but did not speak a word of Dutch.

‘I immediately started a language course because I wanted to be independent as quickly as possible.’

When Natalia’s degree was recognised, she came in contact with Elene of RiseSmart via @level2work (an ESF project for well-educated newcomers, which involves Randstad, the Flemish Employment and Training Service, and other organisations). ‘It immediately clicked between us. We worked together on my CV and set up my LinkedIn profile.’

Things then started moving quickly for Natalia who had previously worked for a diabetes organisation in Georgia. That experience came in handy because the UZ Ghent hospital was looking for an administrative assistant for diabetes prevention in the paediatrics department.

Geerte Van den Driessche, diversity officer at UZ Ghent hospital, explains why the hospital jumped on board:

‘We provide opportunities to everyone including those who are less well off. That’s our social role. In addition, newcomers often come when needed. The health care sector is dealing with quite a few bottlenecks for some occupations. We’re glad to employ migrants that have a suitable degree and the right skills to fill the shortages.’

Geerte could count on Elene to guide the newcomers, recognise degrees, and find languages courses and other training sessions according to need. Natalia is really happy with the internship that she was offered. ‘I want to grow as a person and as a professional. That’s why I take advantage of every chance I get. I’m now taking a theology course. A job as a social worker in the chaplaincy department would be great.’