In the country of Speculoos, we find workers from all over the world. Els Scheppers, the Speculoospasta inventor had a motto, back in 1968: “If you really want something, you can do it”. And that could also be the guideline for Nuno Loureiro, an Association Coordinator at Interel, the European Public Affair Awards Consultancy of the Year 2014 Winner. Before this job, this ambitious 27-year-old Portuguese man, who has masters in Political Science, had done some unpaid internships, worked at Delhaize Supermarket to earn some money, had depended on his girlfriend for help for a while; did night classes and sent thousands of applications. Anything to achieve his dream of working in Brussels in European affairs. "I have received hundreds of nos in my life. After a hundred nos, you become ‘impermeable’ to rejections. Always ask for feedback on your rejected application and the key is to forget that you did it. Then when you get an answer it’s always a nice surprise. If they answer, that will help you for future applications. But don’t wait for it."
Don't feel trapped!
Workshops, languages and continuous learning are his solution. "Don’t adapt only to what is requested by your job. There are thousands of opportunities out there. Don’t be stuck in your job, even if you like it. Don’t give up sending applications."
Nuno had jumped from internship to internship and several times had to go register himself as unemployed in Actiris, the Brussels Federal Public Employment Service. "There is a Lack of opportunities here in Brussels for young graduates", and that motivated him to become an entrepreneur through B!ngo. This Brussels Interns NGO helps young professionals to find a good, fair and quality internship in the Brussels region. Therefore, he recommends everybody to "think about your CV wisely. Consider the photo. Sometimes I don’t write the word internship but instead write what I was doing like Project Assistant. Otherwise, my CV could look bad with so many internships. Everybody does that here in Brussels."
His six years of professional experience were spent in Vienna, Kiev and Brussels and he comes across the majority of his projects because he keeps his contacts. "Networking with people that you have met or worked with is key and Linked in is a good tool", he advises.
What about love?
Marciano Silva came to Europe because he found love. Now he finds himself in love with Brussels. He is a Manager at Exki!, a franchise company with more than 70 restaurants spread across six countries. But this 35-year-old Brazilian works in the central one, between the main station and Grand Place. It’s a place where he has to switch from English, to French, to Spanish, to any language in which he can help people from all over the world. When they ask him about job opportunities, his main advice is "to look for official information according to legal documentation and to not work illegally. Without papers. Never."
While preparing fresh salads, a latté and serving cheesecakes, Marciano explains that he has worked here for seven years "to look for financial stability, but without forgetting what I love to do". After his shift at the restaurant, Marciano does what he really loves: painting. Galleries, exhibitions and international clients are his focus. And selling the acrylic paintings helps him to send money back to Paraná; to be able to follow his artistic dream, using his creativity and knowledge from an arts education and to spread the word about modern Brazilian art.
Looking to the city from Milieu Law & Policy Consulting’s balcony, Mari Tepp reveals how Brussels’ multicultural enterprises contribute to the international mood of the city. "Every day you work with people from different backgrounds and feel very different aspects, like the way people use their lunch break and how long it lasts, for example. People become more tolerant and respectful." She is a young Estonian who has lived abroad for three and a half years: Germany, France, the USA and now Brussels. Working in a multicultural office as a Policy Researcher, Mari always tried "to pay attention to all opportunities open internationally, and some provided scholarships". Her recommendation to her unemployed friends is "to not lose self-confidence, even if it looks like nobody wants you. There is a place for everyone. If it takes a while to find that opportunity, stay active. Voluntary projects, creating a startup, learning languages, building up your skills; that is all very valuable for your CV, too."
In the city where you can use at least three different languages to ask for a hotel room, Mirela Mistor had to learn all three. Italian is also on her list of languages, completed by her mother tongue Romanian. She has worked for four years in a hotel company and came to Brussels when Romania was a fresh EU member state. She left her little sun behind and started to clean houses, obtaining a job in the Tourism sector and making use of her degree in the field. Her main advice is "Study, invest in yourself, and study at any age, even when/if you already have a job, keep studying". She managed to bring her son and encouraged him to "keep in mind that whatever you do, or want to do, you have to be the best". Mirela goes to Romania every summer, but she feels different. "Coming to Brussels changes your mentality. You open your mind. People don’t look at you; they don’t judge you by your clothes. Of course if you have your parents there behind, supporting you all the time, you would not have the courage to come and fight. The stronger are the ones that can live amongst strangers, instead of amongst friends, because anybody can do that’, she says proudly. ‘If I had to live again what I lived so far, I don’t know if I could manage it. You know, the moment makes you stronger. Everything is possible if you want it!"