Far away from home, close to success

Sander Nõmmik
Author Sander Nõmmik

IT professionals over the age of 40 find better work opportunities in Estonia, and they are absolutely clear about this: what counts here is not age, but experience

After the corona virus pandemic and its effect on our personal and professional lives, many people have begun to consider the idea of relocating abroad. A research survey conducted with 500 Brazilians by Toluna Insights for Work in Estonia revealed that 53% have considered this possibility, of which 56.42% stated that the intention has grown in view of the health crisis that Brazil is facing. Even though they have a structured and consolidated life, those who most want to leave the country are Brazilians aged 35-54 (37.8%).

Among the interviewees who work in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), several factors were noted that influence decision-making, such as public safety and low crime rate (58.9%), high-tech job opportunities(45.56%) and a good healthcare system (41.91%).

Long before the beginning of the pandemic, Estonia was becoming one of the newest destinations for Brazilians in search of better living and working conditions and better education for their children. These were the requirements that tipped the scale for João Carlos Vale, a software engineer from Fortaleza, Ceará, when he entered the selection process at Transferwise in 2018.

An experienced professional with more than 15 years under his belt, he was also involved in another selection process for a company in Portugal. “I was called by both of them on the same day,” he explains. “I opted for Estonia, especially because of an advantage that did not exist in Portugal: Transferwise paid for the tickets for my whole family and provided relocation advice.”

This, of course, was not the only thing that influenced João, who embarked on a new life with his wife and teenage daughter. The facilities for legalisation in the country and the digital society, where 99% of public services operate online, were also key factors. “Just send an e-mail and things work,” says João.

Pack your bags, your CV and the dog

Transferwise was also the reason for the arrival of software engineer Fabiano Armando three years ago. But the contractor was his wife, Milena. To accompany her in the change of country, he applied for a number of vacancies and became Senior Java Developer at Concise Systems a few months later. “It took us a few months to adapt to the climate, which is very cold for those of us from the middle of São Paulo, but little by little, Estonia won me over,” he says.

For those who lost more than three hours a day in traffic in São Paulo commuting to and from work, it was quite a change. “I live ten minutes from the office and close to a park where I walk our dog, the Baroness. Here, you have frequent interactions with nature; you can find green areas even in the city centre”, says Fabiano. The Baroness was also a facilitator of the couple’s first friendships, who did not know other Estonians. “We started by making friends with other dog owners we met along the way,” he jokes.

Of course, like any foreigner in a new country, they also missed home. “In the beginning, it’s not easy, everything is new. My wife, especially, talked a lot about returning to Brazil,” says João. Fabiano saw the change as a major departure from his comfort zone. “Although you have a lot of information on the Internet, you are not sure what will happen. But there are other Brazilians here, who are supportive,” says Fabiano.

Get down to work!

Whereas in Brazil, professionals over 40 are often seen as too expensive or ‘too old’, in Estonia they have endless opportunities to learn and grow. “Here, the thing that matters least is age. What companies value most is what you can bring to the table. There has to be an overlap between your experience and the company’s needs,” says Fabiano.

Even so, João, who is now one of Fabiano’s co-workers at Arvato, admits that he felt a little insecure at first, afraid of not adapting to work and not getting anything else. Today, he says there was no reason to worry. “We are not treated differently because of our age,” he says. “In Brazil, there is a preference for younger people because they can stay in companies for a long time. Here, they value those who can manage their careers and the demands of the profession well.”

Financially, he says, the change pays off. “There is no way to compare pay levels in Brazil with those in Estonia. You spend a lot less here because healthcare, safety, transport and education are free,” he says.

They highlight the international environment in many Estonian companies. “In addition to working with the latest technology and leading clients, the teams are often multicultural. Regardless of size, companies start out with an open mind and are ready to do business with the world,” says Fabiano. With such a dynamic day-to-day life, they don’t even feel they as though they are veterans. “We feel like youngsters!”

By Ana Luiza Silveira