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Other Job Opportunities in Poland

Because of the economic situation in Poland, finding work opportunities outside the English teaching field can be a daunting task.

A high rate of unemployment combined with the government's desire to create more jobs for unemployed Poles makes it difficult for foreigners to find work. In fact, for a foreigner, pounding the pavement in a city like Warsaw is more likely to result in depression and despair than it is to result in full-time, well-paid employment, unless you bounce back from rejection like one of those inflatable dolls weighted at the bottom with sand. Your chances are much better if you speak Polish and possess special skills or a high level of expertise in a field where Polish people have not yet excelled.

"Few foreigners can create the types of job opportunities here which make them want to stay for longer periods of time. Unless you work for an international company, there isn't much to choose from on today's open job market in Poland. We're still trying to figure out how to recover from four decades of communist rule."

If you are determined to find work in your field in Poland, you will be much better off making inquiries about job openings prior to your departure. The fact that the Polish people have voted some of the old communist leadership back into office does not bode well for expats who want to compete with Poles for the few positions available. The new government is unlikely to create policies that favor foreign workers.

Said an employee of the American Cultural Center in Warsaw:

"Those who work for foreign ventures account for almost one hundred percent of the expat work force in Poland."

There are several tactics to consider when searching for a job that requires either technical knowledge or an advanced degree.

If your area of interest or expertise is fairly specialized, it may be to your advantage to begin your job search in the United States or Canada. If you are hired in North America, you are more likely to be well-compensated (i.e., paid a hard currency salary on a Western pay scale). If you leave for Poland before you begin your search, contact the agencies listed below. But remember: no matter where you are, the best way for you to find work is to network as much as possible.

Most of the younger expatriates who work outside of the teaching field create opportunities for themselves, usually in concert with a Polish partner. It's much easier to get a small business venture started if you've got an inside track, that is a local resident who will make fewer waves with the authorities when applying for the requisite business licenses. A native-English-speaking Polish-American woman who was offered work through friends when she was visiting Poland contributed:

"Poland is a place where it's good to know people if you want to find work. And businesses there need people who understand Western styles of business management. ... They are especially receptive to energetic young people."

Send out resumes and cover letters to companies that do business overseas, arrange to meet with someone who has worked or lived in Poland, make contact with a Polish person in the United States or Canada who might maintain either business or family ties with Poland, or consult the director of a foreign exchange or study program in Poland through your college or university. You might even find out if the city where you live has a sister city in Poland. If so, make contact with the person who oversees the exchange, and explain your interest. Spread the word any way you can that you are interested in finding employment in Poland.

The United States Department of Commerce in Poland publishes a list of all American companies that do business in Poland. Peruse this list to determine if your field of interest is represented by an American company doing business in Poland.

For more information, contact:

    American Cultural Center
    Senatorska 13/15
    Warsaw 00-076
    Poland
    Phone: (022) 26 70 15

Another good source of information for job seekers is the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland. They keep an up-to-date file of resumes of people who are seeking employment in Poland, so that their members have access to a database of prospective employees. Individual memberships cost US$500. Joining the Chamber of Commerce is expensive, so you should make an appointment to speak with someone about the benefits of joining.

For more information, contact:

    American Chamber of Commerce in Poland
    Pl. Powstancow 1
    Warsaw 00-950
    Poland
    Phone: (022) 26 39 60
    Fax: (022) 26 51 31

No matter what' kind of work you decide to pursue, it's important to understand that relative to the other countries under discussion Poland is a big place. The economic situation varies from city to city, and from place to place. If you expect to find work outside of English teaching, your best bet is the larger cities.

She continued:

"Poland, for the most part, is really rural. Once you leave the major cities, the situation really changes. People's attitudes about the economy really depend on where they are from. People in Warsaw can be pretty optimistic, whereas people in a smaller place like Lublin can be much more negative. They are much less likely to have had a change of attitude. It's hard to break the old habits - many of these people worked for state-subsidized industry (prior to the fall of the communists), and they don't adapt easily. If you want to find opportunities, you have to go to either Warsaw, Krakow, or Gdansk."

 


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