Interview with Martina Popadakova – Advisory Board Member at Career Club DK

Martina was a member of the Career Club Advisory Board since we started. She is the creator of the Empowerment Journey Voluntary Association. Here she talks about the “fake it till you make it” mindset while at the same time keeping it real. Read more about what career challenges she has be en facing and how the Career Club Community inspires her to never give up.

Where do you come from and what motivated you to come to Denmark?

Originally, I come from Slovakia, where I lived until I pursued a Bachelor in Law. During my studies, I realised that becoming a lawyer is not my future. I was so curious to try life abroad and finish a master’s degree somewhere else unknown. Ultimately, I chose Denmark, as it offered a feasible opportunity to study further and sustain myself by myself. So I packed my things and left for Denmark back in 2015, hoping I could finish a master’s here. I worked as a dishwasher for a full year until I got accepted to the University to finalise my dream Master’s program. In the meantime, I fell in love with Denmark, its culture, found a partner and decided to try my best in building a career and life here.

You are the creator of the Empowerment Journey Voluntary Association, what inspired you to choose this career path?

I consider this small project of mine as a “fake it till you make it” approach to a bigger challenge I have been struggling with for almost four years. Having a strong passion for writing, I started a blog called Empowerment Journey, in March 2020.  The blog represented a place where I explored topics that I am passionate about, primarily focusing on gender equality, women empowerment, and personal development. I turned the website into a registered association which enabled me to turn my written words of empowerment into real-life actions. Having the first activity ongoing in the local community of Copenhagen, but it still does not pay my bills at the end of the day. However, it helps me to maintain my identity, creates a space for continuous development, and confidence. I created this passion project or maybe future side hustle to keep myself busy, grounded, and disciplined during a job hunt that turned out to be a little bit longer than I anticipated.

Tell us about your experience in building a career in Denmark?

After graduation, my life as a student officially ended and the job hunt began. With a Master’s in International Security and Law, I wanted to pursue a career in human-rights-based organisations that are located in Copenhagen. For the following 3 years, I conducted unpaid internships in the relevant fields, gained experience, and networked; sadly I could not land a full-time position in this sector. I needed to adjust my choices and open myself up to different industries, where my skills could be transferred and further developed. Therefore, I focused on developing new skills and experiences within a digital marketing and content development field, where prospects of landing a role were hopeful. I am very happy and humbled to share that I landed a new position at TechBBQ as their new PR and Program Lead from the beginning of February. As this is a very new opportunity and challenge at the same time, I would like to continue this journey with the reminder that, it is never too late to adjust, to change the direction, and for the most part to ever continue to evolve professionally and personally. Because sooner or later- it will pay off.

What does Career Club mean to you and how it can help other aspiring women?

It is the Career Club community that has been helping me to navigate my case. I have met so many hardworking and successful career women and heard of numerous diverse career paths and timings. It is this community and stories of these women that I find a source of hope, motivation, and engine to keep going. Thanks to being a member of the Advisory Board, I have had the privilege to interview 10 Advisory board members throughout 2021. It was not just interviewing, it was the learning point. 


In that spirit, I would like to share five pieces of career advice that have been proven by accomplished and successful women of this community, that I keep an eye on, and as a result, more doors are opening.


I. Network with everyone.

Don’t focus your networking efforts solely on specific people. Use every natural interaction you have as a method of networking. A member of the career club advisory board, Madalina Sirghie, uses all means of networking from day one and today she works as a Marketing and Communications Specialist. Read here about Madalina’s experience. Diana Z Petrova, a Holistic Women’s Health mentor, also agrees with how important good connections are. 


II.Expand beyond online applications.

The online application process attracts such a big number of applicants that getting hired becomes almost impossible. The ones that stand out are those who go beyond the barriers of the formal process. A consultant at Pharma and Biotech, Melanie Buffel, points out the importance of taking that extra mile here. A Commercial Manager Shivani Kondaskar, recommends not waiting for the company to make the next move, instead, make a call, or set up an appointment for an informal interview.


III. Tailor your resume to each job and prepare for an interview.

The resume is still one of the most critical tools of a job search. The recruiter should know within a few seconds of looking at your resume that you have the skills they are looking for. Getting an interview is already a success, thorough preparation is the next step. Read more about how Maroua Sajeb mastered the preparation for a job interview and landed a position in finance. Use your network and do not shy away from asking, a Commercial Lawyer, Joana Lennart, shares her different experiences here.


IIII.Create your online presence.

Denmark loves LinkedIn. So get your LinkedIn profile looking high-toned. Building your brand simply means showcasing your expertise and passion online where employers and recruiters are searching.  It is important to be proactive and Linkedin is a great opportunity to create a big network. Lisette De Jonge is a Global Health Leader who knows exactly how challenging it is to build a network in Denmark from scratch, read her experience here. Read more insights from our experienced Branding Specialist, Daniela Pacheco.


IV.Learn Danish

Not speaking Danish only means, that job search will be always limited to companies that only use English as their working language. Even though many companies and Danes speak English, it is always recommended to learn Danish. Marsela C. Parra Roswall talks just about how speaking the local language helps to engage with Danes and create a network.

You CAN fake it till you make it!

Feeling unsure is most common when we are stepping out of a typical role and taking on a new one, or taking the first one. There is more to “faking it” before you find yourself “making it”. Though faking it requires preparation and practice, it also has a lot to do with confidence. “The more you believe that you are capable, the more you will be”. I have had the pleasure to be a part of the Career Club Advisory Board with all these successful women, learned from them, been mentored by them, and been supported by them all the way. The Career Club supported me throughout my job search process, inspired me to work on my skill-set, and nourished my passion- writing. A side product of my fire and energy from these challenging times was a book I have written called “Turning Thirty – I have learned a little something”. I have accomplished these little milestones of mine thanks to the knowledge and empowerment of the Career Club community.


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