From Austrian night school to a Scandinavian laboratory…


After two years of studying Swedish at night school in Austria, biomedical analyst Petra, 27, wanted to experience things for herself.… Petra Schuhmann, 27, from Gols, Burgenland in Austria, has been working as a biomedical analyst in a laboratory in Pajala in the north of Sweden since October 2007. Before moving to Sweden Petra was working in a pharmaceutical company in Vienna, Austria. Although she liked her job she wanted to experience something new and to explore new opportunities, so she started looking for jobs abroad.

For Petra the logical place to start looking for a job was Sweden, as she had a Swedish partner. For two years she had been attending evening language classes and felt confident that she had reached a sufficient level to be able to work there. So, Petra took the plunge and started looking for work on the Swedish public employment service website ( Although it took a bit of time, one day she received a surprise phone call in relation to a job she had applied for over a month previously at a health care and medical research laboratory.

“I wanted to use my Swedish and felt that I had really made significant progress in the two years of classes, says Petra. “Even so, it was quite daunting being interviewed in Swedish!” The interview quickly led to a job offer and, then, the question “when can you start?”

Petra studied biomedical analysis at the university in Wiener Neustadt in Austria: “I think I was chosen for the job because of my language skills, my previous studies and the fact that my qualifications are professionally recognised in Sweden.” She currently plans to stay at the laboratory until the end of February 2009.

Although she found her current position through the Swedish public employment service, she contacted EURES for practical advice about how to transfer unemployment benefits, legal details about changing countries etc. “My EURES Adviser, Günther Wilfinger from Eisenstadt, Austria, was extremely helpful concerning all those logistical procedures, both legal and administrative which can be very different from one country to another. I also found that the EURES website provides a lot of helpful information and advice, which can be referred back to at any point.” EURES often helps job seekers to find work abroad, but that is far from their only role. As Petra’s story illustrates, one of the important functions of a EURES Adviser’s work is to provide advice and information to workers concerning moving abroad.

So, what next? “Sweden is an amazing and beautiful country. I’m really enjoying my time and work here and I escape to the mountains whenever I can. One thing I have found quite difficult here though is making friends. It is not easy starting all over again at 26. In the long term I plan to return to Austria and my friends and family are there, and after my experiences in Sweden I plan to continue working as a biomedical analyst. Before that though I’m going to take a few months sabbatical and go travelling!”

When Petra does return to Austria she knows that EURES will still be there to offer her advice concerning all the logistical elements of her return home, including job offers on their website.

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