Sol Gutierrez is a Career Club DK Advisory Board Member, and has recently completed a big step of her Career in the Nordics with first a Masters in Chemistry for Renewable Energy in Sweden and just recently graduated from a PhD in Materials Chemistry in DTU. She is a Board member of Career Club DK and when she is not making magic for us and you, she spend her time looking for her next career step in the Renewable Energy Industry. Maybe you know of any?
Where do you come from and what motivated you to come to Denmark?
I come from Costa Rica. The motivation for how I ended up in Denmark in short is passion for Science and Renewable Energy and the thrust of adventure.. I will go into a bit more detail about how I ended up in Denmark in the next question.
What is your professional background and what inspired you?
I am a chemist and what motivated me to study chemistry was to obtain a deep understanding of how things work. I had an amazing chemistry teacher in high school and it fascinated me to understand the components of the world that surround us and how we can make incredible things by understanding its properties. I developed a really interesting project in Costa Rica in my bachelor’s final year on a new material for solar cells, and so I found I wanted to specialize in developing and understanding materials for Renewable Energies.
The adventurer inside me wanted to explore Europe and applied to several universities that focused on chemistry for Renewable Energies and corresponding Scholarships, in the meantime I was working as a laboratory manager while I saved up money for my adventure. I was accepted into several Universities and was extremely happy the day I received the notification: I was granted a full scholarship from Swedish Institute for future leaders. Chemistry for Renewable Energies, the study program I desired the most.
When I was about to finish my master’s I knew my adventure in Europe was not finished. So I applied for a Ph.D. position in DTU chemistry researching nanomaterials for renewable energies and that’s how I ended up in Denmark.
Tell us about your experience in building a career and a network in Denmark?
Since I had the experience of living in Sweden before, it was a bit easier to find my way in Denmark. I’m quite a social person and the use of the app “meetup” and Facebook groups got me closer to like- minded people.
Now, I am currently in the process of developing a career network targeting the market I want to be in, Renewable Energies. It is a challenging process to get the first job. I’m making the jump from academia to industry. Going through the range of emotions of the excitement of a new job that looks perfect for you, the tiring process of job applications then getting happy of being called into interviews. It also affects the fact that different rules apply to me just for being a non-EU citizen. I don’t get unemployment benefits like my peers. I had to decline a project offer in Sweden so I wouldn’t jeopardize getting a permanent residence permit here. Which is an income and job opportunity I’m missing out on just from not having the “right” papers. To keep my spirits up in this process I reassess my goals now and then and take breaks to focus on hobbies. I am also learning the Danish way of Job applications. That is a step that Career Club DK has been super helpful. It was interesting to find out that approaching people on LinkedIn it’s totally fine here in Denmark since that is something you can’t do on the street. So social norms for job-hunting are different and I am happy to be part of a community to get those insights and find as well other members who are going through the same process.
How do you find the working culture in Denmark compares to your own?
The work culture in Costa Rica is more hierarchical. I like the non hierarchy of the nordics, it’s easier to express my ideas. I love the less formal approach to people. It takes some barriers down and makes the information of the conversation more important than the formalities. I love the importance of your own time and that your personal projects are respected, which is well reflected on the work-life balance . My country has only 12 days of vacation per year by law, which means most private companies only offer those and in a lot of companies overtime is expected.
Your best career advice from woman to woman?
To not define myself by my Career and other labels has been the most helpful to me. I am more than a title, I am more than my failed experiments, I am more than an Immigrant. With this in mind I get the pressure off the perfectionist side of myself. And in those times I focus on the other aspects of my life, such as my social relationships, my hobbies, and I get to define myself by whatever I want.
What does Career Club mean to you and how have we helped you?
I had always strived for developing and joining environments that are empowering to women colleagues and students. In science as in many other fields it is a very male dominated environment and if not dominated in number is indeed male ruled, since most professors and supervisors are male. So I decided to join Career Club DK to be in a community of women that empower each other, an opportunity to network and to develop soft skills related to event planning and hosting events, things that I love and do naturally.
Advisory Board Member at Career Club DK
PhD in Materials Chemistry
Connect with Sol on LinkedIn!