Somewhere in the capital of Stockholm, Sweden, you’ll find Francesa Santos. She also goes by the name of Frannie.
Hailing from General Santos City, 24-year old Frannie studied in Ateneo de Manila University and graduated in 2012. After 6 months of working in the country, she found herself moving to Hong Kong and then to Europe to work and find her place there.
In Sweden, she works as a Trade Communications Specialist in the consumer goods industry. For her company, she develops marketing materials to present to both the retailers and others at their shop’s floor. The materials they make, like photographs, and videos, are used by the different sections of the company’s vast and comprehensive marketing team. How do you excite retailers about a new launch? How do you enable those working on the shop floor to sell the product as effectively as they can? These are questions Frannie tries to find solutions to everyday.
How did this Filipina millenial got her job in Stockholm, you ask? Simple. She applied through AIESEC. A non-profit youth organization with a huge network of people and companies, AIESEC offers young people opportunities to do internships in many fields of interests, in your country of preference.
As a graduate, Frannie applied for a one year professional internship in one of the organization’s Global Partners. That first application led her to work in Hong Kong, six months after finishing college. The rest is history. In April 2014, she got a second internship in Stockholm, Sweden. She says, “Everything turned out well, and by the end of my internship I was offered a full time role to stay in the team.”
If you think she’s living the dream, she does too. When asked if she’s enjoying her stay, she answers with a definite yes. “I like my job, and the people I work with. Also, working conditions are great.”
Despite living this life, Frannie still does have those days when everything familiar and Filipino seems far away, especially her family and friends. Countering this, she does what the Swedish do, take work-life balance seriously, and travels as well. “I have enough holidays to spend long weekends traveling. Although I don’t live in continental Europe, it is still relatively easy to fly to another country.”
One of the things she’s learned from working in Europe is how different working environments can be. Even though she only worked in the Philippines for six months before leaving, she observed that work environments in Sweden are more flat.
“Organizations are less hierarchical than in the Philippines. This makes the working environment more relaxed. I can easily approach a manager or a director for instance and invite them for coffee. Often decision-making is based on consensus. So it is not that much top-down, as what is more common in organizations in Asia.”
Hearing from her, it definitely seems like an experience every millenial could learn from. Frannie thinks anyone can do it. “It is tough, but it is definitely doable. It takes a lot of work but the right opportunity will come if you keep looking for it.”