The ease of starting an expat career in Prague

It’s a lovely autumn afternoon and we’re sitting in a meeting room in the forth floor of a huge building overlooking Flóra, one of the central neighbourhoods of Prague. “I love the ease of this place. It was so easy to move to Prague from Finland,” says Pellervo, a contemplative Finn with short fair hair. “This is a beer country and I find Czech beer culture amazing. You can hang out easily after work with your colleagues and perform excellent networking in summer beer gardens,” adds Christina, who comes from Aarhus, Denmark, with a broad, friendly smile. These two young people have both worked for ExxonMobil in Prague and in quite a short time they were able to develop successful careers.

ExxonMobil is an American multinational oil and gas company and its business center in Prague provides support for example in selling, drafting contracts, and customer service to company’s branches all around world. For Nordic people, working in customer service can be a typical starting point. Pellervo and Christina describe it more as a client management and networking with the customers rather than answering phones in a call center. Christina shines like a sun when she gets to talk about her career. Her enthusiasm is impossible to miss. “When you start working at ExxonMobil, you can try many different positions and develop yourself,” she says and describes that after her first position as a dedicated customer service professional, she was promoted to deployment planner.

“Working in here, everybody has good possibilities for career growth,” Christina explains. “You can do different positions in few years. And in each position, you gain something useful: be it work experience or soft skills,” she adds. Pellervo agrees with her and claims his analytical and negotiation skills have improved a lot since he started working at ExxonMobil. He has also learned how to handle stress and started socializing. “In my previous job in Finland I have never liked making friends within the team,” he says. “Prague is different. Almost all my colleagues have become my friends. People here somehow get easily connected, probably because we come from different countries and it connects us and help us to come together,” Pellervo thinks.

Beside daily tasks, which Pellervo as a team leader and Christina as a deployment planner have to follow, they take part in various side projects. “There’s more to it than just sitting behind a desk and typing,” Christina smiles. For instance, Pellervo takes part in a buddy program. “Our task is to welcome and help newcomers in the company. We try to make an easier start for the new colleagues,” he says. “And I’m a brand ambassador,” Christina adds. “We promote the company at job fairs, we go to universities, organize open days for students… I enjoy the creativity of the process. I’m also an ergonomic contact,” Christina continues and explains how she takes care about people using ergonomic furniture and devices.

Christina describes her start in the company as a matter of destiny. She was searching for a job and came to Prague as a tourist. She fell in love with the place and decided to find a job in here, even though she couldn’t speak any Czech. “I simply googled “Prague job English” and found several recruiting companies. It turned out that Nordic languages were much needed, so I sent an application and ExxonMobil offered me a job almost immediately,” she recalls.

Pellervo, on the other hand, is still quite a newcomer in the company, as he started working 15 months ago. Nevertheless, he has been already promoted to a team leader. He describes his career journey with adorable laconism of a true Finn: “I just came here, applied for a job at ExxonMobil because I knew the company by name and that was it.” He gets more talkative when speaking about living in Prague. “There are so many options what to do in your free time. I personally like going to the gym and jogging in the beautiful parks. In Finland, you have to drive many hours when travelling abroad. From here you can easily take a bus or train and in few hours you can start exploring new places. Thanks to that, I have been to many Czech cities and to Germany and Slovakia too,” Pellervo says and reveals that his next trip destination might be Poland.

Christina is a passionate traveler as well. At first, she had brought her expensive Danish city bike to Prague but soon enough she realized that a mountain bike is a better option. “I love Central European mountains. Denmark is very flat, so I enjoy hiking and cycling in the mountains and taking pictures. Brno, Český Krumlov, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary are worth seeing, too. In Denmark we don’t have that many historical buildings and I find the rich history of Czech Republic wonderful,” she says.

According to Pellervo, it’s easy to fit in because of many expats and foreigners living in Prague. “You don’t need to worry about Czech language, Prague is a capital city and most people here speak English. So there’s no real language barrier,” he says. “And company provides free Czech language courses, anybody can apply for that. We both were taking part and it was fun,” adds Christina and sums up: “I think the company takes very good care of its expat employees.”

Altogether there are 68 nationalities working in ExxonMobil in Prague. “The diversity here is huge. In my team, there are people from eight countries! It’s a real benefit to our work, I find it inspiring working in an international team,” thinks Pellervo and adds that his spoken English has improved a lot since he has started working in the company.

“My favourite place in Prague is the park called Riegerovy sady and its beer garden. In summertime there is a wonderful atmosphere. It’s simple, like some places in Denmark. I enjoy simple things. You can have a beer with your colleagues after work and enjoy the summer. And the beer is cheap, that’s good too,” laughs Christina and nonchalantly sums up why she loves working for ExxonMobil: The ease of the place, also highlighted by Pellervo, combined with the opportunities for career growth are a good combination for young open-minded people seeking for a job in the very heart of Europe.


Text: Ema Stašová, Scandinavian House
Photos: Ema Stašová & ExxonMobil archive