From the moment she touched down in Lithuania as an ERASMUS student, through to her current position as an IT security specialist at Danske Bank, everything has gone smoothly for Anastasiia. She has completed a Bachelors and Masters degree, found a great job, and learned a lot along the way. One reason for this easy transition is the support she has received. From mentors at her university, through to private companies hired to help with her documentation, and supportive colleagues encouraging her professional development, she has been encouraged at every step of her development.
I am from Rivne in the West of Ukraine. When I finished school, I decided on doing technical studies and going to a technical university. So, I moved to Kyiv to study IT at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.
I spoke good English and had good grades, so my teachers suggested ERASMUS. And Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) was the option for our university. So that’s how I ended up coming to Lithuania. First, I came for half a year, then I extended my stay for 3 more months.
In the last year of Bachelors studies I was already thinking about doing a Masters. And to be honest, I had fallen in love with VGTU so I didn’t really think about another place. I had a Diploma in Computer Science, and one of the international MA options at VGTU was IT Security, so I applied. I just went to the international office and said “OK, I want to do my Masters here. What should I do?” They said “Awesome. If you apply this week, you can apply for a scholarship to study for free.” I just thought: “I like it, let’s go.” So, I ended up going straight on to doing a Masters at VGTU – I already had my place, so I just picked up my diploma in Kyiv and came straight back.
I work as an IT specialist in RegTech team at “Danske Bank” in Vilnius. During the first year of my Masters in IT Security we had career days. Lots of companies came to VGTU to present themselves. And there was one funny guy – he was open, friendly, smiling all the time – and he was from “Danske Bank”.
We started chatting and joking, so I asked him: “Do you have any positions for IT security?” He said: “No, unfortunately not. But if something comes up, I’ll message you.” So, we connected on Facebook, started messaging a little bit. After a few weeks, he sent me a link for a position:
“Securities IT – Engineering and research team, IT specialist.”
Everything was IT related, and I met the requirements for the position, so I applied. There were some interviews (where everything was focused on IT). I got the job. And then during my first week I asked after a couple of days: “Sorry, is there a difference between security and securities?” And they said yes: “Securities are financial instruments used for trading.” It was a funny mistake, but actually I really like my work. And now I am mostly doing IT security … for securities.
Everything was very easy. When I got the email that I had been given the job, I was told that I needed a work permit and that a special company would help me to do all the paperwork.
Actually, they did everything – I just needed to sign some documents and bring my passport, and they did everything else. They spoke with “Danske Bank”, they spoke with the Migration Department. And after 2 weeks I received approval for a 3-year residents permit here. And as I have a Bachelors in IT and I applied for a job in IT, I was considered a Highly Qualified Specialist, so there was a shorter procedure for applying for a work permit – a Fast Track application.
“Danske Bank” like people who are studying – it means that you are growing, you’re not staying at the same level. And also, they can pay for some of your courses (if it’s related to your job of course) so you can grow more.
I also really like the fact that we have everything here – a canteen, a gym. We also have official teams for biking, running, a choir where you can sing. So, everything is here, not just for work, but you can also grow in other parts of your life.
Outside of work, I spend a lot of my time as a mentor for new international students in Lithuania. So sometimes I work with those students, sometimes I travel with them to some events.
I also like hiking. The nature here is awesome to so I like to take long trips out into the forest – last week I did a 12-hour hike.
I also like to do handicrafts – here in Lithuania I bought a sewing machine, and I have a two-room flat with one room dedicated to this hobby. I like knitting and embroidery.
One cool place is “LinkMenu Fabrikas” – it is a place where VGTU students can make things by hand. They can do things with robotics, or work with steel and wood – anything. You can learn how to film, you can learn photography, how to make music, they can teach you everything.
Since I started working at “Danske Bank” I feel really independent – I have the feeling that I can do whatever I want. “I want to go to this restaurant, I want to try this one” – living here, with a good salary from “Danske Bank”, I can do what I want.
Having a fast career in Lithuania? It’s definitely true for IT specialists, because big international companies are coming here all the time. For example, “Danske Bank” is not a bank in Lithuania, it’s a huge IT company.
Regarding Vilnius, I like the fact that it’s green – really green! And I like the fact that it’s calm. Vilnius reminds me of my hometown – and although it’s bigger, it’s not really crowded. You feel like there isn’t a lot of rush, you can get anywhere in the city within one hour by bus, by car it’s 20 minutes, so it’s awesome.
And what I really like about Lithuania is the seaside. On the weekend you can go to Klaipeda or Nida and just relax – it’s like taking a small vacation, it’s awesome.
If someone is thinking about moving from Ukraine to Lithuania, I would say just do it! In Lithuania I got a job without needing to know the Lithuanian language – I didn’t have any problems with this. I am a foreigner from outside the EU, but it doesn’t matter. People just care about your brain and your knowledge. So, I would just say, “learn English, bring your knowledge, and start a career here.”