Finding flexible work and starting up on your own
If you’ve just arrived in Luxembourg or been here a while, are working, or ready to go back to work, but cannot find the right job opportunity with your current experience or qualifications, our new series Changing Careers is designed to give you inspiration through real-life experiences.
In this final article, Karine Vallière found there were no jobs for her specific experience and skills, took a career break to settle her young family, and worked as a teacher before starting her own business.
You can read in our other articles how Francesca Moroni went back to school after a 10-year career break and landed an internship, and how Yamila Omar got her first EU opportunity through a contract PhD at the University of Luxembourg.
Work life balance reason to move
Prior to moving to Luxembourg in 2006, Vallière was a marketing manager in the UK finance sector. Her second daughter was born prematurely and had to stay in intensive care, and this “made us realise that there was more to life than a long commute and work”. That’s when she and her husband decided to move somewhere that was more family friendly with less of a distance between home and work.
Initially managing the renovation of a farmhouse, whilst her eldest daughter settled into Luxembourgish school, she realised there were few, if any, marketing or finance jobs that would allow her to be free on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
Teaching gave her freedom
To accommodate more flexibility, Vallière changed her professional path to become an English teacher at the Lycée Vauban. “I enrolled in a long-distance course in the UK, and a year later I met a tutor at the University of Luxembourg, who after our meeting, placed my CV on the MEN database. Five months later I was contacted by the school to fill in for a last-minute vacancy, but I ended up staying for six years,” she recalls.
Then her career took an even more surprising turn, when she decided to start up her own business Jumpbox trampoline park. Vallière’s daughters were both gymnasts, and one day whilst watching a TV show about British gymnast Beth Tweddle, they discovered that she loved to train at a trampoline park. They investigated further on a trip to the UK. “That night, with my daughters, I did some research to analyse whether such a park could work in Luxembourg,” she says.
Pandemic hard for business
Jumpbox was the first trampoline park in Luxembourg, so despite drafting a solid business plan, Vallière found it difficult to convince banks to invest or loan her money. “It was new and risky, but the SNCI and the building landlord demonstrated that they had confidence in the project,” she says.
However, the pandemic was not on her roadmap: “Although we received help through government aid, arrangement for some parts of the rent, and a loan suspension, this was not enough, and we had to use savings made in the previous years. We survived by adapting the space, coming up with new offers like trampoline courses, a fitness class, and teambuilding offers for companies,” says Vallière.
She admits that for some 18 months she had to handle most of this by herself, as her business could not afford to pay employees to come to work.
Even today, Vallière works late at night “as I am super productive then, and that way I can work at Jumpbox with the team during the day, or do all those things a mother and wife needs to get done,” she explains.
She advises anyone thinking of starting a business to understand how that will work in Luxembourg, possibly attend training courses provided by the Chamber of Commerce, and join entrepreneur associations.
You can read our article looking for a new job with details on agencies, CVs, ADEM and more, or our article on starting a business, for details of the legal and administrative requirements and support agencies.