07. My arrival at Warsaw. Work

There had always been a high unemployment rate in my neighborhood. After finishing my studies, when I started looking for a permanent job, it became quickly apparent that I had very little chance of finding one. I did work as a tour guide then, but it was sporadic work, and I didn’t earn enough doing it to live on.

One day, after many failed attempts to find employment, I came to the conclusion that this cannot go on and I need to find a permanent and stable job.

As it happened, several months earlier, I had signed up for an English exam, organized by the British Council. It was to take place in early December in the capital. On the eve of the departure for the examination I said to my mother:
-Maybe I’ll find a job.

I packed a small backpack with only a towel, a toothbrush, some changes of clothes and the Bible. Riding on the bus I sighed:
“-Jesus, you know that I do not know anyone there! Help me! ”


I arrived at the capital around nine in the morning. The first thing I did upon arrival was to buy a newspaper with ads. I wanted to first find a roof over my head. I looked for a small and cheap room for rent.
I read the ads carefully and I found a few that interested me. To my disappointment, every call was answered by a real estate agency, which collects a commission for brokering the rent of accommodation. Finally, I dialed one of the last numbers, but this time also, the same situation repeated itself.

Certainly I would have said: “No, thanks” and put down the handset if not for the owner of the agency. He took an interest in me and offered to help me somehow so I immediately came to his office.

When I got there I met the owner, a nice man, friendly and prone to help. He checked around and the only thing he could suggest was a room with a steady client of his, far from the center on the edge of the city. Unfortunately, I would have to share the room with two others. However, I agreed immediately as I needed to have a place to sleep that night.

Mark, as the owner of the agency was called, seemed ok to me, so briefly I told him why I came to the capital. After some thought, he said that he could offer me a job at home, though not for very much money, but he would waive the commission for arranging the renting of the room. I agreed. The work began immediately, the same day. At around noon, Mark had to go, so he left me alone in the office for several hours and told me in advance what I would have to do.

After his return, I began to prepare for my return home, when suddenly the phone rang. The person who telephoned, said that she was looking to rent out a room near the center of the city and for a low price, immediately. During the call, Mark looked at me and said with a smile to the caller:
“-It seems to me that I have someone very interested in your offer. I will send that person right over. Within minutes, I was already on my way to Barbara, with whom I would live for the next few years.


In this way, I found a roof over my head, but I would have to wait another three weeks for a permanent job. Over the course of the following days I would continuously scourer the newspapers for job ads and had numerous interviews. As this job search method had failed to give me adequate results, I decided to post an ad of my own in the newspaper. Several employers responded, but none of the interviews ended with the signing of an employment contract.

In the meantime, I went home for Christmas. After my return I had not yet had time to enter the apartment, when Mrs. Barbara greeted me at the threshold with news:

“-A man telephoned a few times in response to your ads. He introduced himself as the director of a company”, she tried to recall his name,” he called several times and he is urgently seeking an employee. He phoned just before you came.”

Well, that was a really comforting message! Later that day I got a phone call from that employer. He was urgently looking for an assistant and wanted me to start working for him as soon as possible. He therefore suggested that he drop by right away and take me to the company, so I could see my future workplace and make a final decision. And so that’s what happened.

When we met he immediately decided to give me the job, without even asking about my professional experience. I also agreed to take the job and the next day I started work.


At my new work, I began acquainting myself with the functioning of the company, which until then I had no idea about. I learned everything relating to office work, from using the computer and office equipment to customer service, etc. My boss turned out to be very understanding and turned a blind eye to my initial stumbling about. My colleagues were similarly helpful and aided me in the implementation of my new tasks. I made a special bond with the main bookkeeper, Mrs. Irene, who proved very kind and who was like an aunt to me during this difficult period of adjustment in the capital. We are friends to this day, despite the many years which have passed.

After several months of work, the director said it was time to expand my responsibilities. From an assistant I became a human resources specialist. Thus far there had been no such position in the company, so I had to learn the issues relating to human resources and employment law. Here, too, Irena came to my aid, clarifying many issues relating to personnel administration matters.

The work I carried out at the company gave me a good deal of satisfaction. I worked with people whom I liked and felt good around. But after a few months dark clouds began to accumulate above the company. A difficult financial situation and the threat of bankruptcy were the cause of the board decision to limit costs. I, as the person with the shortest, less than six months, seniority within the company, suffered the consequences of that decision. One August day, I was handed a termination of employment for reasons attributable to the employer.

“-I cannot I go back home! I need to find a new job! “- I said to God in prayer.

I was to leave the company at the end of August, so I suddenly had less than two weeks to find another job. So I undertook an intensive job search, including an employment interview at another company. I was not hired due to a lack of relevant professional experience, but I established a cordial relationship with Ms. A, who was in charge of the recruitment process. One day I received a phone call from a director of one of the German companies established in the capital. His company was urgently looking for a specialist in organizational and personnel matters. During our conversation, I learned he had been sent to me by Ms. A.

The next day I went for an interview. Head was a native German speaker, who hardly spoke Polish, so my knowledge of the German language was necessary. My main responsibilities were not limited to just personnel matters. The most important task was the preparation of monthly economic reports for the company’s headquarters in Germany.

The director didn’t ask about my previous professional experience. The main thing for him was that I could prepare the reports correctly, and of course, the fact that I spoke German.

I realized that I had no relevant experience. But I felt confident and accepted the offer. The director was very eager to have me start working as soon as possible, so therefore, my job began immediately after I left the previous company.

When I saw how the report to the headquarters looked, I felt a little overwhelmed. I had to prepare it based on the accounting balance sheet, and I yet I had no idea about accounting. Moreover, I had to use a special computer program to perform graphic summaries and analyses. I knew that I would not be able to do it by myself. So for the next few days I devoted my time to familiarizing myself with the accounting issues, unknown to me before that.

After a few days, the few-dozen-page report on A4 was ready to be sent. A short time later I received a phone call from headquarters in Germany, asking for clarification on various issues and the data contained in the report. Later that same day the boss came to my office. He thanked me and said words that I remember to this day:
“- I just received a call from Germany. For the first time headquarters is happy with the prepared report. This has been the first satisfactory report they have received until now. Thank you ….”


At that time, Barbara had given me a phone number to newly-established department at the headquarters of one bank, in which her daughter had begun working. The bank- a leader in the financial services industry, whose logo is widely recognized throughout the country, employed more than forty thousand employees. In connection with the development of a new department handling payment cards, they sought new workers.

Barbara always encouraged me to submit application documents for various jobs, and I always hesitated. Actually, I had no intention of changing jobs so quickly. I had been working at the German company for less than two months, and despite being deluged with multiple responsibilities, I was glad. I also had a good relationship with my boss, who seemed to be pleased with my work. The only drawback was that the place of work was a considerable distance from my home. The company was located on the outskirts of town and commuting to work took almost one and a half hours.

Barbara did not give up and repeatedly asked me:
“-Have you called? Did you set up an interview? Well, call them finally! ”

Because of her frequent insistence, I decided to finally call the number and arrange an interview. This was not an easy task, as the head of the department was always unavailable. I phoned several times a day and each time his secretary informed me that her boss was out or in a meeting. Finally after numerous attempts, I was able to get ahold of him. After a short conversation, the director agreed to meet with me. I arrived at the prearranged time, documents in hand, for the interview. The interview didn’t last long, but I will surely remember it for a long time. At the end of the interview the director said:

“- Unfortunately, currently the department does not have a vacancy that would satisfy your qualifications. However, taking into account the future needs and development of our department, we will create a new position with a profile consistent with your experience in the human resources department. ”

Shortly afterwards he called his deputy and told him that the department created a new position in which I would be employed at the beginning of the next month. At the same time he asked him to show me my future office.

Ania who worked in the human resources department, was quite puzzled and surprised by the employment of a new coworker. Until then it had been a single-person department. A couple of minutes later, when I was leaving the department, the matter had already been decided upon. I only had to submit the required documents.


At the beginning of the next month, I began to work for the payment card department.

Initially, I mainly undertook the fundamental aspects of human resources. But my boss had planned the rapid development of the HR department and wanted to broaden its mission to modern personnel management. Therefore he encouraged me to develop my professional qualifications in Human Resources (HR).

At the insistence of the director, I took part in some good training in the field of human resource management, and soon I came to the conclusion that HR is the field which I would like to pursue professionally. It was something that really interested me.

After several months of work, the director began to assign to me more serious and more responsible HR tasks (training, recruitment). He soon had me develop and implement a job evaluation project, which was to evaluate more than 120 employees. It was a quite a responsible task, as I had to choose my own methods of evaluation and adapt them to the specific needs of the department. For this reason, I was directed to several training sessions dealing with evaluation.

The implementation of the project took me about 3 months. When I presented the director with the finished assessment system, I got his full acceptance and agreement to implement the project.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the project had to be postponed because of my operation. The doctors insisted that I undergo surgery as soon as possible, which took place shortly after Christmas. After the operation in January I spent a whole on sick leave.

When, after about 1.5 -month break, I went back to work, it turned out that my department had undergone major organizational and personnel changes. My director had not kept his position and soon had to leave the company.

The new boss had a different vision for the development of the department in which there was no place for the introduction of modern methods of personnel management. So he thought that the project, which I drew up was unnecessary and it would be best to just hide it in a drawer.


But as you can see in the world there are no accidents.

In mid-February I received a telephone from the central bank and specifically the department of human resources management, and was invited for an interview. As it turned out, my former director had sent a draft of the assessment system prepared by me to one of the VP’s on the board along with a personal recommendation of me.

And it was precisely the reason for my invitation to a meeting in the headquarters. During the conversation, the deputy director of the department of human resources management offered me a position in a newly created division of the department. The range of tasks suited me and my current obligations perfectly (training, recruitment, evaluation system, job analysis).

He talked extensively about plans to introduce new tasks in the field of HR, which interested me. He offered me attractive financial conditions, extensive opportunities for training and development and the possibility to manage a team in the future. For now, I would be the first employee hired in the department and would soon be joined by another person.

Initially I was not sure if I should change my department and position, but after several days of hesitation I accepted the offer. Shortly thereafter, the director of the department of payment cards was sent a formal letter asking for his permission to transfer me to the department of human resources management. Soon it was decided that my employment would be with the department of human resources management.

When I told all this to Beata, one of my colleagues, she was worried.
“-Girl, think carefully about what you are doing! It’s not too late to change your mind!”

Surprised by her reaction, I learned that Jola, her good friend, worked in the department of human resources management. The immediate supervisor is Jola’s director, M., with whom I spoke, and to whom I would report to. Jola often complained about her boss because of his behavior, and called him a ‘ruthless sadist.’ He sowed terror in the department, he did not consider anyone’s feelings, and tormented his employees psychologically. As Jola said, he had a detrimental effect on the health of many of his employees.

Iwona, tried to convince me at every opportunity to resign from the proposed work.

But it was too late … All the formalities regarding my new job had been done and any day I would change my position and department. It was too late to back out.