February 2023 | Written by – Ariel Slaughter

Transitioning from academia into a corporate setting has always been difficult, just ask Alexander Ledovskikh. He has been trying to make that career move for some time with little success, but thanks to the Talent100 program, Alexander has made great strides that have propelled him closer than ever to his dream job.

An Education and Career in Research

Alexander, who is from Ukraine, has a fascinating background in science and research. He explains:

“I started my education at the National Technical University, which is also called the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. I graduated with a specialty in chemical cybernetics, which is a combination of chemistry and numerical methods. After graduating, I worked in the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.”

Alexander would later complete a PhD from the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine before seeking fresh opportunities abroad. This is what brought him to the Netherlands in 2001. Since then, he has worked in a variety of academic institutions including Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), the European Institute for Statistics, Probability, Stochastic Operations Research and its Applications (EURANDOM), and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), always in a research capacity.

Outside of the Classroom

After several years working at various universities, he eventually hit a roadblock and felt it was no longer possible to continue working in the academic world:

“After I left Delft University, it was not possible to extend my contract…I started to apply for a job to various scientific institutes and universities, not only in the Netherlands, but around Europe and also the UK, the U.S. and other countries, but always with negative results…I realized that there is some problem, there is something that never allows me to go further in the academic world.”

This prompted him to change his focus to companies instead. “There are a lot of companies doing some kind of research. And these companies are really interesting for me, especially in fields which are close to my background in electrochemistry, chemistry or physics.”

He’s definitely in the right place and on the right track. North Brabant has eight campuses, like the High Tech Campus Eindhoven which is more than any other province in the Netherlands! Each campus ranges in maturity but they all are centers of innovation for numerous research institutions and R&D companies, that attract international talent like Alexander from across the world.

So, while rejection is never easy, Alexander remains positive about his prospects and remains passionate about science since it has always been his lifelong interest and an opportunity to be “creative.”

Positive Change with Talent100

And as luck would have it, Alexander’s fortunes were about to change for the better with the Talent100 program even though Ukraine would be plunged into the unthinkable– war.

“It was the beginning of the terrible war in my home country. As a result, here in Eindhoven appeared a community of Ukrainian people looking for a job. There are two Ukrainian supervisors from the municipality. And the one of them advised me at the end of summer 2022 to join this course.”

Alexander had rather low expectations for Talent100 at first because he had done something similar before which he described as “quite poor.” But Talent100 proved to be different. “When I started, I realized that this program is really, really good…I learned a lot of things about this course about the CV. And I was really surprised about the role of LinkedIn. I did not expect that it’s so important in the Netherlands and in the EU.” 

 Talent100 is a career reentry program that captures the unique education and professional experiences of internationals in the Brabant region to help integrate them into the Dutch labor market and contribute to the economic prosperity of the region. The program is a collaboration between three top organizations: the Expat Spouses Initiative, the Living In program of Holland Expat Center South, and Huis Naar Werk. It includes a series of workshops like branding, career coaching, a seminar on Dutch culture, CV writing and more to teach participants how to market their skills, ace interviews, and land jobs in their chosen industries or pivot to new ones.

It was a lot of hard work but Alexander completely changed his application materials and approach based on the advice he received. “I did a lot of work on my CV. I changed my CV a lot from the previous version before the program. Now it’s really, really, really different. I hope my CV now is better.”

Talent100 is also a great opportunity for international professionals to network and help each other. “I met a lot of people in this course, a lot of new people, people from different countries. I thought that the group would only be people from Ukraine, but it’s a mix of people from various nationalities and countries.”

Alexander also likes the program “because it offered meetings with employers… It isn’t like when I send open applications to a company. It’s directly talking to them, introducing myself and showing an interest in the company.” Three interventions are organized for every edition of the program where participants can meet companies face-to-face and discuss opportunities.

Alexander also created opportunities through his own initiative. “There was a kind of labor exchange market and there were a lot of companies around a big room with posters and you could talk to them directly. Before that I knew of a lot of companies doing research and technology.” From this one job fair, he received multiple interviews and he is hopeful one will lead to something more. I had some advance in my job searching with the companies located on High Tech Campus Eindhoven and at least one company already asked me to organize a trial period.”

Although there isn’t a job offer on the table yet, Alexander is close and thankful for all the help from the Talent100 program, the coaches, and fellow participants.

Recommendation for others

He advises others like himself who come from academic backgrounds to “not stick to academia too much unless you want to become a professor, which is really difficult.” There are many ways that professionals can use their background and work experience, so it’s important not to cling to tightly to only one.

Don’t be put off by the stumbling blocks that you encounter whether due to your education, experience, or other circumstances. Instead pause, take stock of your skills and refocus like Alexander did. A bit of upheaval in the short term can clear the way to greater successes in time. Alexander’s story is of one Ukrainian professional, but Talent100 will welcome many more in its upcoming editions. With more than 80,000 refugees from Ukraine in the Netherlands, as of October 2022, the program will help them navigate and relaunch their careers in Brabant. Of course, the program will continue to welcome other nationalities and professions from all industries, so contact the Expat Spouses Initiative today. Or you can read more inspirational stories in the Tips, Trips, and Stories from our Community section.