The beginning in a foreign country was challenging. After less than a year, she works as a Data analyst in a Czech company.
Last year, Elena fled Kyiv with her children to escape the war. Starting a new life in a foreign country without knowing the language was challenging. However, after less than a year, Elena has managed to secure a job as a data analyst in a Czech company and now uses Czech on a daily basis. Her story is one of courage and motivation.
In March 2022, I fled to the Czech Republic with my two children, my sister, and my nephew to escape the war in Ukraine. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay behind, and it is currently not possible for him to join us. I used to work as a banker in Kyiv and then went on maternity leave. Later, I worked in finance for an American company. However, when the war broke out, our happy family life was turned upside down, and we had to leave our native country for the sake of our children. We have nowhere to return to because Kyiv remains under fire until the war ends.
We made the decision to escape as soon as possible but had no idea where to go. Initially, we sought refuge with our godfather in Ukraine, and the children couldn't even attend school. After a week, we traveled further west in Ukraine and decided that if we couldn't return to Kyiv, we needed to find a new place to live. We couldn't wait for the war to end because nobody knows when it will all be over. The children deserved to go to school and live a normal life. We chose the Czech Republic primarily because of my cousin, who lives here and works in a factory in Pardubice. They helped refugees after the war broke out, providing them with accommodation in a hostel for the first few weeks.
The beginning in the Czech Republic was challenging - my sister and I were alone. I didn't know the language, and it was difficult for the children as they had no friends. Gradually, we managed to find an apartment and a school for the children, thanks to the owner of the apartment who is now a good friend of the family. However, I didn't know what to do with myself. With the help of my cousin, I found a job at a printing press. The work was demanding, and it was even more challenging to balance it with childcare. My sister and I took turns working twelve-hour shifts to ensure someone could take care of all three children. But this arrangement was not sustainable in the long run. In my spare moments, which were few, I did some extra work for an American company I had worked for in Ukraine. However, due to the low salary, difficulties with pay transfers, and lack of social security, we started looking for better solutions.
To secure a better life for myself and my children, I started intensive Czech language learning. I quit my job at the printing press, and my husband supported me remotely by sending money. That's when I stumbled upon the Digital Academy on the internet, specifically the Data program in Prague. I quickly enrolled. I had considered working in IT in Ukraine before, but I never had the time to study as I was occupied with work, family, and managing our new life. In Ukraine, my husband didn't support the idea because he saw that I couldn't keep up. However, given the current situation, we agreed that investing in my future was worth a try. So, I applied, even though I didn't believe I could do it at all. The entrance interview was tough for me as I struggled to express myself correctly in Czech. However, I succeeded and was accepted into the Academy.
Studying in a foreign language was challenging, but the lecturers and other Czech students were always willing to help. It was time-consuming, but I was grateful for the intensity and complexity of the program. I valued the opportunity and the friendships I formed during my studies. My Czech language skills improved significantly.
Upon completing the Academy, I began searching for a new job. I went through several interviews, but the companies felt that my language skills needed improvement, as daily client communication would be necessary. However, everyone was friendly and understanding. Then, I came across a job advertisement at JIP Wholesale. I sent in my CV, and it worked out well - the interview was very amicable, and they hired me. Since February 2023, I have been working as a data analyst. I'm learning about the internal structure of the organization and creating sales and purchasing reports for employees and customers. Although I don't have a direct mentor, I can seek help and advice from any member of the department. Everyone is always supportive.
With my new job, our lives are finally heading in a better direction. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity I've been given in the Czech Republic. I want to stay here, and I hope my husband will soon be able to join us. I highly recommend the Academy to other Ukrainian women because it presents a great opportunity to reach new heights. Don't be afraid. Don't look back; focus on the present and the future. You must look forward and overcome your fears. It's worth it!
This story was based on an interview with Elena.
Information about the Digital Academy and Google grant for Ukrainians
At Czechitas, we have been providing training programs in IT to Ukrainian women affected by the war for less than a year. Thanks to the support of Google.org, we can offer two training programs completely free of charge. The first program is our three-month Digital Academy, where we reserve five spots for Ukrainian women in each class. Selected Ukrainian women can study testing, data analysis, or web development alongside Czech participants.
The second program is the INCO Academy - Work In Tech, which offers 1000 scholarships for Google career certificates specializing in IT support or digital marketing to women who have fled the war in Ukraine and now reside in the Czech Republic. Ukrainian women can also benefit from other activities such as consultations, career workshops, and community meetups. The goal of both programs is for participants to complete their chosen courses and find promising job opportunities in the labor market. For more information, visit www.czechitas.cz/ua.