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She was holding her new employee access card when Papitha Sekar felt that her career was finally back on track. A new culture, new country and seven years of job searching had combined to make this a milestone moment. But first, back to the beginning.
The right track
In 2008, when she graduated with a B.Sc in Computer Science from the University of Madras, Papitha felt she was on her way. A rapidly digitalising world and a global economy flush with exciting career opportunities pointed to a bright future. She stepped into her first job as an Operation Executive while also completing her Master’s in Computer Application. Papitha was on the right track, and moving fast.
So, when an opportunity for her husband to move the 9,000 plus kilometres to Oslo for work popped up for the young couple, there seemed little reason not to embrace it. Papitha was armed with experience and some of the most in-demand industry skills (by this time she had been promoted to System Engineer). What could go wrong?
Seven years on the side-lines
According to one Gallup World Poll survey, 750 million people globally would migrate if they could. For that substantial number, new lives, better opportunities and fresh challenges are deemed either essential or exciting. But what sort of experience are they imagining when they arrive at their chosen destination? In Papitha’s case, at least, the reality didn’t quite match the expectation.
What is Open Mind?
Telenor Open Mind is a unique job training programme that provides people with physical disabilities or mental health challenges a chance for employment. It is currently operational in Telenor Norway, Pakistan and Sweden. In Telenor Norway’s case, Open Mind features an additional stream which aids immigrants from non-European countries gain access to career opportunities.
“It was hard to move to new country leaving family and friends. Norway has thought us many things and brought its own challenges. We hoped that the move would give us more opportunities. It wasn’t always easy, but I’ve become more independent and stronger because of it.”
Among those ‘challenges’ were seven years searching for a job that matched her skills, experience and education. It was after registering as job seeker with Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, NAV, that she came across information about Telenor’s unique job training programme, Open Mind.
It wasn’t always easy, but I’ve become more independent and stronger because of it.
By this point, she had received more than forty rejections and begun her own catering business to generate income.
Open Minds and Open Doors
Papitha could be forgiven for managing her expectations when she began applying to Open Mind. As it happened, though, it was the beginning of a hard-earned fresh start as well as a stark realisation.
“The interview process was really positive. It was also a wake-up call that there were many people in the same situation as I was; people with the right qualifications but struggling to find employment that matched their abilities.”
That positive interview process turned into a place in the programme. Today, Papitha, a passionate programmer, does her job training through Open Mind at Telenor where her experience and education are put to the test across a satisfyingly diverse range of tasks. “Right now, I’m working on Start IoT 2.0 , a project with the Research team, creating the front end application, testing IoT devices and working on customer journeys.”
Open Mind, Papitha feels, has given her a new start. “I love what I do.”, she says. “Getting my access card was such a wonderful moment”. After seven years of searching for a job and finding one, sometimes it’s the little things that count the most.