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#8 Englishman In Estonia - Working & Job Hunting in Estonia

Job hunting in Estonia

Ever since I graduated from university in England back in July I have been searching for a role within my field of marketing. To decide if I’ve been successful or unsuccessful in this pursuit really comes down to a matter of perspective. Before I began job hunting, people I would speak to about it would always tell me something along the lines of ‘‘it takes time, you have to keep trying and don’t be disheartened if you fail’’. With this quote in mind, I have largely failed in this pursuit, from this particular perspective. However, when considering the experiences as a whole, both in England and Estonia, I personally feel that I have had a lot of success too.

Yes, I’m still looking for that start in the industry, but at least I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to interviews and assessment days. With each of these experiences I have learnt something each time, knowledge I can use to better myself and move forward.

I’ve been living in Estonia for the past two months and have already had a few interviews, together with, taking part in various tester projects to assess my suitability for the roles i’ve been applying for. One key and very important difference between my job hunting experiences in England and in Estonia is that here, I actually receive an email and sometimes detailed feedback when I am told that I have been unsuccessful in my application.I am familiar with the reasons behind why employers usually opt not to send feedback to candidates, or indeed even send an email to notify candidates of their unsuccessful applications, however, I cannot help but feel as though this approach is worth investing more into, as it helps candidates to understand their mistakes and progress further in the job market.

The importance of learning languages

Estonia has a lot of opportunities within a variety of industries, and I’ve noticed that there are many links with other countries in the form of travel between offices worldwide or through international assignments. One stark comparison between England and Estonia I have noticed in this area is the language factor. In England you are rarely required to speak several languages unless the job specifically requires it (e.g. airport staff, translators, hotel staff), however, in Estonia (and for that matter, the majority of European countries I have visited such as Bulgaria, Germany and the Czech Republic) speaking several languages is an expectation in most jobs.

I would consider this to be due to the difference between our education systems. For instance, in England languages were taught from the age of 11 in most state schools, when I was in school, whereas, in the rest of Europe most of the people I have met over the years have learnt languages from a younger age (usually 5 years of age upwards). This has now changed in the UK, since 2014 it has become compulsory to learn at least one language from primary school age. I cannot stress the importance of knowing how to speak several languages enough. I’m very slowly learning Estonian at the moment. It’s a lot of fun, but it is a very difficult language to learn. It’s one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world I am told!

All in all, I am actually enjoying my job hunting experiences in Estonia, simply because Estonians seem to make more of an effort with their candidates. All it takes is one email and a few lines of feedback, and you’ve made a real difference to someone’s future job prospects.

Working in Estonia

Given that I have not secured a job in Estonia just yet, I have been working for my partner’s family farm. This experience has been a real eye-opener for me. Having grown up in London I’ve seldom been in contact with farms, and I had never worked on a farm until around 2 years ago when I first visited Estonia.

At first I helped out a little, usually just carrying out menial tasks like gathering herbs, cleaning and getting rid of trash etc. However when I visited for a much longer period in the summer of 2016 (for 2 months) I started to get involved in more advanced tasks such as using oscillating tools for the purpose of cleaning wood and rust from various metals.More recently I dug a large hole and installed a sewerage system into the ground for the house that we are working on. It was very hard work and took at least a week, but it is finished now and it works perfectly. This was my first real success on the farm in terms of finishing a long term task, and it is genuinely something i’m proud of.

A little on home life

I’m not sure if this next thing is just farming life in general, or if this is a part of Estonian farming life exclusively, but I love that we work for a long time (perhaps 4 or 5 hours at a time) and then come in for a break and eat various types of Võileivad (sandwiches) and have tea or coffee. This style of eating (similar to a buffet style, where you pick what you want to eat from a selection of foods) is something that I am not accustomed to in the family home back in England. I have experienced it of course, but In England portions of foods tend to be selected and prepared by whomever is cooking the food, and then they are distributed to each person’s plate before they are delivered to the table, so essentially, your portions are decided for you. This is not the case in Estonia, and I love it!

More on farming

I can’t explain it completely, but the feeling you have after a hard day’s work on the farm, when everything aches and you’re very tired is brilliant. Not only do you physically feel good as well, but you feel a sense of accomplishment when a lot has been achieved in that particular day. I’ve had a lot of jobs so far in my life, I worked in a supermarket, hotels, at a bar, and many more, but I rarely had this feeling in any of those jobs.

Perhaps it’s more to do with the surroundings of this place and the environment itself that makes it so enticing. Working outdoors, eating good food, hearing nothing but the wind and the birds tweeting. I find myself becoming lost in the work in the best possible way. There is something very special about working in Estonia on a farm, something words cannot fully describe.

- Christian Reeve

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