•  Nationality: Albanian
  • Age: 43
  • Field of study: Gender, public policy, international development
  • Current employer: European Commission
  • Current position: Expert Evaluator

Why I started my career in the Netherlands 

The Netherlands is a country that embraces and motivates ambitious and skilled researchers who want to advance further their career in different research institutes, while creating collaboration bridges globally.

It is also a country which welcomes international community in many different ways: through education, through employment schemes, through supporting private initiatives, through fair taxation, expat housing and health-care schemes.

Multiculturalism, smart-cities, digital technology, high sense of environmental protection, spirit of debate and criticism, are some of surnames Dutch people are famous for. Building a career here means that you learn to internalise and make yours the above-mentioned processes.

A typical work week 

It really depends where I am. Since I am engaged with doing research, either in the Balkans (Albania), the Netherlands (Utrecht, the Hague), or in Africa (DR Congo) my work week is diverse and challenging.

When in Albania and DR Congo, the work week is mostly spend in the field-work, doing interviews, focus group discussions, meetings, workshops, reports. It is a work that connects you with people, makes you a better communicator and a better active listener.
When in the Netherlands, my week is spend in analysing, reflecting, writing and reading over the materials and data-gathered in the field-work. I have the opportunity to attend national and international conferences, engage in academic groups with my colleagues and academic supervisors.

Cool projects 

As a person interested in international development, welfare and health-care policies, two action research projects have absolutely determined my career path.

The first one was my PhD Project “Lone mothers and welfare policies in Albania. Conditions, experiences, expectations. 1944-2013”, which I pursued at Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies at Utrecht University (UU). For this project I worked with prof. Berteke Waaldijk from UU (the Netherlands), and Dr. Saemira Pino from Marin Barleti University, (Albania).

The second action research project I am working on “Every day policies and practices of family planning in Eastern DRC”, is hosted at the ISS of Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Hague. Since Africa is a new research context for me, I have the life-chance to work with world established scholars such as prof. Wendy Harcourt, prof. Inge Hutter and prof. Dorothea Hilhorst.

What I like about the Dutch work mentality 

I appreciate the division of tasks, where every-one has a role to play. Everybody does his/her job and no one takes credit over your work. Dutch people are really fair at work environment, they are respectful and know the art of dividing work from fun.
Respecting working hours, taking time to rest in the weekend, career development schemes, the opportunity to take holidays in convenient time, are some working packages which develop a new working mentality and motivation to perform.

My career advice to you

At any time during the day, learn some Dutch words. Give it time and dedication to learn the Dutch language. The employment for English speakers in the Netherlands is a small swimming pool, but if you get to know the Dutch language and start applying in Dutch, your entire career vision will change and enlarge for good.
Always find a mentor, someone that can advise and guide you through different processes. A good mentor is better than 5 or more years spend in schools or trainings. The advice of a good mentor will never be found in books.
Increase your social capital, participate in networking events and invest in networking like you would invest in your education.

Want to connect?!

Skype: Arla Gruda
Linkedin: Arla Gruda