- Apie institutą
- Spauda ir Žiniasklaida
- Iniciatyvos ir Programos
Charlotte Cosmo is a qualified electrical engineer. She is originally from Sweden, but is now based in Luxembourg, and works for the European Commission. However, how she arrived at this point in her life, makes fascinating reading, and Charlotte wanted to share her story with us. We all face trials and these were her ones.
The focus of her professional speciality is on project management, and, the development of different database systems. Although this labour market sector is overwhelmingly populated by men, it did not prevent Charlotte from trying to ‘carve’ out her own space in this professional. In fact, Charlotte’s life story is replete with one example after another how determination, grit, and forming personal networks with other women, together help women realise their dreams as realities. As Charlotte says, “We are all able to help each other in difficult situations in life. Alone we can't manage; together we are the source of Europe.”
Charlotte starts by telling us about her first real difficulty, now some years ago. “I was left alone with the responsibility of three small children and no other family in a country which is not the country of my birth. I had a master of science in engineering, but I had stayed at home for 8 years with the children and I didn't speak French, which is the language of the country where I lived.”
Despite this harsh reality, Charlotte knew her children relied totally on her; she created a series of goals, and however difficult, she persevered to accomplish each and every one. She studied a computing course (Java programming) in a language then still foreign to her (French). At the end of every lesson, no matter what, she would seek support from another student who helped to explain it to her, and she then prepared thoroughly for the next lesson. When she finally sat the exam, she was top of her class. Charlotte had achieved her first goal!
Every new step was a big trial for Charlotte. As a single mother, it was very difficult finding a good home for herself and her children on only one salary. On top of that, she always found time help them with their schoolwork, and to spend time with them as a family. Knowing that Charlotte was looking for a new home, a friend found a house in the best area of the city. The house was in a very bad state, there was no kitchen, but the rent was only a third of the normal price for the area. Charlotte nearly gave up! But then, Charlotte’s friend said, “if you are too afraid to make changes, you can never achieve anything.” These simple words changed her world-view about dealing with hardship, and about adapting to new situations in life. Another goal was achieved! Charlotte said, “This comment helped me decide to move with my three small children. It also helped me to adapt to the renovation as well as to other situations of hesitation in life.”
Charlotte’s next goal was to study French to a level of fluency. She found that EU employment was very competitive, and many organisations operated in this language. She says, “After 4 years of studying French, I worked in the European Parliament in a unit where French was used as working language. I remember how proud I was when I took part in all the technical meetings in French! [Another] one of my goals was achieved.” Charlotte managed to keep getting contracts, and they were for different posts in different institutions of the EU. Often she didn't know from one month to another if she was going to have a job or not, because the contracts were so short and the extension was sometimes only granted just before the end of the contract. For example, she continues, “I was surprised when I realised that I had to win an EU competition in order to keep the post. To do a good job was not enough. So to be able to get a permanent job I started to apply and study for all competitions for posts in the EU institutions that I could ever think of and that I had education for. I did competitions in proof reading, translating, IT, statistics, and nuclear science and for secretarial work.”
Charlotte’s in a permanent job nowadays. She says, “After 9 years of working on different contracts in the EU institutions, I won a competition for a permanent post as a nuclear inspector, and I now do inspections in a reprocessing plant. I work in a French speaking team of engineers. The day I got this post was one of the happiest days of my life.” Charlotte achieved another goal. She says, “I still live alone with my children, who are now 2 teenagers and 1 adult. I am proud because they all seem happy and they all have good results in school and in university.”
Charlotte’s final message is this. “What helped me in a difficult situation was to set goals, to work for the goals, to decide about my own priorities and to do all this with kindness and with the pleasure of friends. This is something that I want to inspire the women of Europe to do too. I think that all we women of Europe have excellent possibilities to achieve what we want - if we work for it, together.”