My challenge

My name is Andriani, I am 34 years old and I have a child, named Odysseus. I am Cypriot, and my partner is from Crete, Greece. I studied chemistry at the university of Patra.

We have been in Cyprus for the last three years and for the previous five years, we lived in Crete where I gave birth to our child. In Crete, I worked occasional jobs and because I did not have any previous experience in the field I studied, I could not find any jobs related to my subject.

Shortly before I got pregnant, I worked in a pharmacy store for six months with precarious working conditions. Due to the high competition in the workplace, I was ultimately fired because I could not work 10-12 hours per day as everyone was supposed to do. During that time, I was attending some online courses to enrich my CV, so I asked my employer to leave the pharmacy store after completing my eight hours working shift. This upset them, and consequently, my co-worker convinced my employer that I was not valuable enough and fired me in July. I got pregnant in August. Afterwards it was even harder to find work. My partner supported us financially, and I contributed a little by making and selling cosmetics from home.

my path

After I gave birth, my partner continued to work but it was now even more difficult to support all three of us. I visited my parents in Cyprus and found out about a job here, in Cyprus, related to my studies. I went for an interview without thinking much and I received a positive response from the employer. We did not want to leave our life in Crete despite the previous employment-related difficulties though. But we felt very stressed during that time: I was now 30, without work experience and I was feeling insecure as I did not have any employment opportunities. My partner was also working in a job that was not related to his studies. So we decided to try to move to Cyprus, even if it was not easy for us to leave.

In the interview, my employer had told me in general terms what my responsibilities would be and the salary I would receive. When I started work, I found myself engaging with different tasks from those we agreed on during the interview. Also, at the end of the month, I realized that the salary was much less than what we agreed on. At that moment, I was shocked because I realized that we had moved to another country to get a job that did not meet my expectations. Neither in terms of tasks nor financially. Adding to this, I was dealing with a daily situation of intense pressure and verbal abuse on the workplace. I was patient because I had the feeling that, on the one hand, it was my fault we moved to Cyprus, and on the other hand, I wanted to learn how to survive in an employment environment since I had never had a permanent job before. At the same time, as a mother, I had to find balance and energy to combine employment and motherhood. After five months of working in this position, I went to my work one morning and heard my employer shouting. A colleague of mine just told me not to pay attention. The other girl was crying. Without thinking about it, I decided to resign. I said to myself that I would not tolerate another day like this in my life. I owe this to myself and my child. I owe it to him.

Later on, I started looking for a new position in Cyprus. I utilized all my networks. I informed all the people I knew that I was looking for a job. All my friends and relatives. I have never been so persistent in getting a job. I was calling and asking for work from companies before they even opened positions. I did not show so much persistence in finding a job in previous years. After a while, I managed to book a job interview with a pharmaceutical company. After few days, they contact me to offer me an employment position.

my success

I have been working in this pharmaceutical for almost three years now and I feel that I have managed to be a valuable member of a team and be respected. I do not hold my previous work experience as traumatic but as a lesson in order to make more conscious choices in my life and to be able to teach my child to do the same in the future. I felt insecure about my skills and maybe that was one reason I could not find a job. But after my latest experience in that job, I felt that I could deal with all the difficulties I might face. I measured my personal strength. My child and my partner gave me the persistence to demand more from myself and my environment. I still feel that I am afraid to take new steps but at least I saw that I could take them. But I feel that it will be easier for me in the future to make such decisions.