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Candidate Stories

Meet Maria: Working abroad helped me develop a growth mindset and gain new perspectives

Apr 22, 2021 by Monica Garcia

This candidate story is very special to us. It is an excellent representation of how we work at Workwide Recruit and our values. This story actually comes from a former Swedish colleague of ours whose adventurous personality has led her to live in different countries. For Maria Selldén, working abroad was nothing new before she got a job in Lisbon as a Customer Service Agent at Teleperformance Portugal. Certainly: once you get a first job experience in another country, it’s not that easy to go back and stay where you were!

Maria in Lisbon

Before moving to Lisbon, Maria studied International Business at Karlstad University (Sweden) and worked part-time as a recruiter at Workwide Recruit. Her previous experience abroad and her language skills made her a good fit in our team, and we thought the position could be of great value for her future career. “I did some research and found the company very interesting. Moreover, I felt like working in an international environment would be something that I would feel comfortable with”. 

However, after a valuable time with us and lots of interviews, Maria got seduced by the idea of being on the other side of the phone.   “I have always been a fan of travelling and challenging myself, and after I had graduated from Karlstad University, I felt like it was the perfect timing and opportunity to do this. I wanted to experience the differences between working abroad and working in Sweden. I was looking forward to working with and learn from other cultures.” - “As I was recruiting candidates for this job position myself, I exactly knew what type of job it was. The fact that the job I applied for was in Lisbon made me even more excited!”  

Maria’s job search journey

Not only the idea of working in Lisbon got Maria excited. The opportunity to work on a project for one of the most well-known companies globally was also one of the distinguishing features of the job - Maria actually applied for being a Customer Service Agent in a Google Ads project at Teleperformance Portugal! This combination was something that she couldn’t miss and was what made her take one step closer to her adventure overseas. 

As said, Maria’s journey in Lisbon was not her first working abroad experience. Namely, she had previously worked as a telemarketer in Spain and lived in Germany for a little while. It is, then, easy to think that she had an advantage here. But in reality, lots of thoughts ran through Maria’s mind before and after applying for the position. Besides excitement, one might have some concerns as well“The feeling you get when you realise that you are going to leave everything behind to go live in another country is a bit scary, of course”.  Despite her experience, Maria knew this wasn’t going to be an effortless journey either. She describes finding a job abroad as a “great step if you want to challenge yourself, get into the international labour market and see what it is like to work and live in another culture” - and we couldn’t agree more! 

We were also curious about how different her experiences were, especially before moving to the new country. "When I am comparing the previous experiences with this one, I can say that I am very grateful for everything that each one of them has given me. But in this case, the relocation package that Teleperformance offered helped me a lot and made everything going smoothly". 

She also wanted to comment on her process with Workwide Recruit, so our candidates can get to know what to expect. "After the first contact moment with Workwide Recruit, you receive detailed information about the job position and the location, which you can read through before deciding if you want to continue with the process or not. The whole interview process with Workwide Recruit has, in general, a good flow. I need to say it was a bit easier to find a job through them. In the sense of letting them help me through the process rather than handling everything myself." Indeed, working and living abroad requires preparation beforehand. And we understand that it can sometimes be a bit difficult to do this all by yourself!

Lisbon's street by Maria

Maria’s working experience in Lisbon

Making a to-do list before moving abroad is something that we recommend doing. However, you might need help in some practical aspects, especially if they are bureaucracy related. Don't let this make you feel overwhelmed! As in Maria's experience, most employers help our candidates in their relocation process. - "Teleperformance Portugal helped me with everything! From sorting out what kind of essential papers I needed to bring, finding me a suitable flight ticket to Lisbon, as well as arranging accommodation and an airport transfer. I am happy about the way the relocation process went. After picking up my luggage at the airport, all I needed to do was get into a car that would take me to my apartment. During the trip to my apartment, they gave me tips and tricks on finding my way to the city and the closest supermarkets."

Shortly after she arrived in Lisbon, Maria started her onboarding process at the Google office in Lisbon. Those were exciting but busy weeks: she met new people from all over the world, got lots of information, and started to discover her new workplace and home. Maria also shared how her onboarding process was at Google - "The onboarding process lasted for about 5 weeks, and it was both intense and a lot of fun! There was a lot of information to take in, but the training was well structured. Instructors with a lot of knowledge about the product led it, which made it even more fun to learn."

Maria's workplace
Maria's workplace

Maria officially started working as a Customer Care Agent after those 5 necessary weeks of training for her role. But, how does a workday of a Customer Care Agent in Lisbon look? "A typical day for me started by getting on the transfer bus that took me to the Google office, located about 30 minutes from Lisbon city centre. After some chit-chatting and morning coffee with my colleagues, I was ready to log in to my computer and start the workday. My workday, then, included providing answers and solutions when listening to the customers' questions and concerns. We often went out to one of the nearby restaurants during lunch or had a picnic under the palm trees in the park right outside the office building (see picture below)." 

"We divided the day into two different parts, depending on what type of support channel I was assigned. So, if I answered incoming calls in the morning, I was responsible for the chat or email support in the afternoon. We usually went for an after-work drink or to the beach after a warm day at the office!. There is no doubt that Maria made the most of her days and her experience in the Portuguese capital, and she could balance her work with her social activities around the city.

Besides this bright side, Maria also had to experience the downside of being a newcomer in another country - "The main challenge I faced was trying to figure out how things, such as healthcare, are arranged in Lisbon. For example, figuring out where to go and what documents I needed to bring. Luckily, I could always go to my employer with this kind of questions." Maria also wanted to emphasize that, in the end, these challenges are part of the journey, so you should face those situations without any frustration and take them as a lesson.  

Thereby, Maria defines working abroad as a valuable experience where you can learn from all kinds of situations and is an opportunity to develop yourself in an international environment. "Working abroad helped me to develop a growth mindset because I was able to distance myself from my own culture and language. By having a more open-minded approach, I discovered and tried things I had not discovered or tried before. All this has boosted my career by making me more excited to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. Furthermore, I can say that working abroad made me develop as a person on both a personal and professional level."

Park in Lisbon by Maria
Park in front of Maria's workplace?

Living in Lisbon

As a travel lover, this experience wasn’t Maria’s first time in Lisbon. When she travelled there, she knew that she would go back someday for a longer stay - “Portugal is a beautiful country, which offers a lot to explore. Lisbon is also a city with something for everyone, whether you prefer city life or beach life. I wish I would have explored more of Portugal! I tried to take every chance I got to travel around, but looking back, I realized I could’ve made time for more trips than I did. There are a lot of beautiful places to visit!

We also asked her if she could highlight what living in Lisbon meant to her and what she really took from this experience - “When living abroad you will meet people that come from completely different cultures and you will learn a lot about the norms and values of these new cultures. All this will benefit you in your career too as you will have a better understanding of other countries and cultures. You will be able to communicate better with people from other countries and backgrounds.” 

She also added here: Moving to a new country to start a new job will push you out of your comfort zone. And nothing helps you grow as a person like interrupting your safe and comfortable routine. You’ll learn things about yourself and your home country that you didn’t know before, and this new perspective will help you develop personally just as much as you grow professionally.”

Maria’s golden advice

Maria’s experience abroad was definitely an enriching lesson for life and an opportunity for her to gain new perspectives and to develop herself in all aspects. She really encourages friends and people to embark on an adventure abroad, and this is reflected in her advice to those that are thinking right now about it:  

Just do it! I recommend everyone to work abroad at some point in their life if they have the chance. Having a fun job while exploring a new country and making friends from all over the world is just amazing! Also, try to take every chance you get to travel around because there are a lot of beautiful places to visit in every country!

Maria is currently back in Sweden and works as a Financial Assistant at Homströmgruppen in Stockholm. We want to thank her for sharing her experience in Lisbon! We are confident this will inspire and help our readers and candidates chase their dream job abroad! ?