vrijdag 11 oktober 2013

Everybody needs a Mogens

It is hard to find a job in Denmark if you do not come here as an expat with a job contract in your pocket. The language, the way people are hired (many find their jobs through their own informal networks), the lack of trust in diplomas that are not Danish – finding work is a disheartening job.

So there is a lot to be said in favour of starting your own business. And that is what many foreigners do.

But that is also a hard job, and disheartening. Creating your own business opportunities sounds creative, but it takes a lot of energy and courage. It is like kissing frog after frog, waiting for the prince to appear – but no, it is still a frog, slippery and cold and trying to escape, and some of them are being very impolite about being kissed, too. Trust me, I have my own business, and I'd rather be kissing someone else. But many of my working days are taken up by kissing frogs. On top of that, it's pretty lonely.

So imagine my delight when I got a call from Mogens! Mogens Thomsen was consultant for Etnisk Erhvervsfremme in Aarhus. I met him at a meeting from Startvækst Aarhus, an organisation that helps beginning entrepreneurs on their way, and this meeting was in English, especially for fore igners. I later found out that he called more participants of that meeting.

Over time, Mogens and I had several short conversations about how business was going. One day, his colleague Karsten Olesen asked me whether I could give a presentation. He was organising a workshop for organisations from Sjælland that were interested in the approach of Etnisk Erhversfremme.

Of course I would. My message was, in short: everybody needs a Mogens. Especially in the beginning, it is crucial that someone takes an interest. Someone who has a network and can give you tips. Someone who is expecting something from you. That makes you want to do things, instead of slumping in your chair, reaching for the bottle to rinse away the taste of frog, and moaning about business being bad.

It is also crucial that it is a Dane, a Dane who does something with you instead of for you. All too often it is forgotten that integration takes two. A foreigner can learn Danish, dance around the Christmas tree and eat leverpostej til Kingdom come, but if Danes do not want to play with him, then integration is doomed. So more Mogenses please!

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