January 2023 | Written by – Ariel Slaughter
Any kind of career pivot can be challenging, but for international talents with medical backgrounds it can be particularly hard, if not impossible, to continue working in their field abroad. But with the right mindset, a little bit of luck, and the guidance of Talent100 program, Nergis Düzok leveraged her healthcare experience into a promising new career.
Life as a doctor
Nergis is an experienced obstetrician and gynecological specialist from Turkey who has worked in various government and private hospitals. She was motivated to become an obstetrician because she wanted to “touch people’s lives”. Although she was all set to continue her professional journey in Turkey and transition into a university setting, instead Nergis relocated to Eindhoven in August 2022 when her partner accepted an offer at ASML.
With her international move pending, Nergis immediately began researching her professional prospects in the Netherlands before setting one foot in Europe:
“My journey actually started when I was in Turkey, I learned about the process to work as a doctor in the Netherlands. I started my Dutch lessons and I created a LinkedIn account immediately because I was really seeking to do something with my medical background.”
Finding a New Way to Serve
Nergis already knew she wanted to find another way to work as a medical professional in another environment that would use her years of experience and education. “I [want to] serve something bigger than me and other job opportunities can provide that.” But she didn’t know what opportunities would be available in her new home. Luckily, this is when we came across the Talent100 program by Expat Spouses Initiative (ESI), Huis Naar Werk, and the LivingIn program of the Holland Expat Center South. Intrigued by the opportunity of support, yet not sure how the program could help, she applied anyway.
“I looked at the website of Expat Spouses Initiative and ‘what is that and what can I do with that?’ And then I found the Talent100 program and I applied even if I didn’t know the benefits of the program, but I just didn’t want to just stay at home and try to learn Dutch. I wanted to be in a community and have some friends and network.”
Talent100 is a new program, launched in March 2022, that merges previous programs by the Expat Spouses Initiative into a single comprehensive one. The goal is to take 100 international professionals called Talents and through a series of coaching sessions with experts get them ready to integrate into the Dutch labor market in three months. The program is open to all professionals regardless of their educational background, gender, and age. Each Talent, if accepted, is categorized and offered a spot in one of three different program tracks depending on the stage of their professional journeys, participating Ambassadors, and other criteria.
- Career Discoverers: Talents who need to take stock of their skills to discover their passions and/or potentially pivot into new careers.
- Kickstarts: Talents with established careers and marketable skills but need a practical support to get into the labor market.
- Women for Women: A longstanding ESI mentorship program for female Talents who are paired with a locally connected women, called Ambassadors.
Transitioning with Talent100
Nergis joined Talent100’s second edition (September 2022 to January 2023) as a Talent in the Career Discoverer track. “I learned [I was accepted in the program] when I was in Turkey; just the day before I came to Netherlands. It was really exciting for me. I feel really excited about the program.” Even now, Nergis is still thrilled with the Talent100 program. “There’s no question that the sessions were really, really life changing.”
She also credits the sessions of Anne-Pauline and Irina, two of her track’s coaches, for challenging Nergis to think outside the box and realize that a new path forward was possible using her medical education. “Am I putting aside or wasting my background? I was afraid of this feeling…During the sessions I realized I’m not on the verge of a loss. I am on the verge of a chance to open the door to a brand-new life. My background is a ticket to take another journey.” And the practical sessions helped her prepare her CV, motivational letter, and LinkedIn profile to showcase her skills and education in the best possible light. “And on the other side, the practical sessions helped me too. I learned how to write my motivation letter, how to create my LinkedIn profile and CV, because I had no idea about those things.”
Joining the Dutch Labor Market
All the sessions and hard work has paid off. Nergis will start a new job in January 2023 working as medical protocol specialist with a medical software startup in Utrecht, just four months after arriving. “After a session, I came home directly and I was changing something, some information on my LinkedIn when LinkedIn offered me the relevant positions…I applied [to one]. And after one hour, I had an interview with them.”
Just as the interview came soon after applying so too did the job offer. “I had a good feeling about the job and the team. They were like a family. And I wanted to be a part of it. At the end of the interview, the CEO of the company told me that: ‘We would like to have you on our team.”
Naturally, Nergis is very excited about this new opportunity and is very thankful for all the support she received from the Talent100 program and the Expat Spouses Initiative. “I’m really an open person to different kinds of experiences and changing my office as a doctor didn’t make me so frightened. It was not an easy decision-making process, but I feel really happy right now.”
She advises other international Talents who have medical backgrounds to stay positive and remember that change is possible:
“I think the most important part is just realizing that you’re not leaving your background behind yourself and knowing that makes you feel more courageous. It’s not about your diploma…If you want to work as a doctor [you can]. But on the other hand, if you want to do something different, outside of a hospital, you should know that we have the power on our CV and it works for different kinds of job opportunities.”
Change while daunting is not impossible. Nergis was able to accomplish her goal of finding a job in the Netherlands that makes use of her extensive years of experience and education as a doctor with the aid of the Talent100 program. Let 2023 be the year of change and new beginnings for you! Contact the Expat Spouses Initiative and start a new chapter in your professional journey this year. Or you can read more inspirational stories for other internationals in the Tips, Trips, and Stories from our Community section.