Professional Integration HUB



A unique internship program for Ukrainian professionals in Austria


11 June 2024

Khrystyna Skorokhod: “The internship in the Professional Integration HUB program has significantly influenced my professional ambitions”

Khrystyna Skorokhod, Participant of the Professional Integration HUB program (WIENXTRA).

  • age: 25
  • city in Ukraine where you lived before the full-scale invasion (forced relocation): Kyiv
  • specialization: Social Work


Before the full-scale invasion, I was completing my Master’s Degree in Social Work and working on my Master’s Thesis. Simultaneously, I worked as an International Secretary in the youth scout organization “Plast” in Ukraine, focusing on children and youth.

In Ukraine, there’s a need to learn quickly and do various tasks within tight deadlines, often requiring multitasking and resourcefulness. But from other side, it was great that you always have a space for your own ideas, supporting others and fostering creativity.

The work with youth in Ukraine is ongoing and adapting to the current situation. It faces challenges such as safety issues, reduced resources including human resources and energy, and limitations on opportunities compared to before. For instance, there are fewer opportunities to engage with youth in the East of Ukraine and a lack of safe spaces for events, therefore less interaction and communication.


The war found me on the morning of February 24th in my family’s apartment in Kyiv. The previous night, I had decided that I needed to accelerate my Master’s Thesis, so I went to bed very late. A few hours later, around 4 am, I was awoken by sounds that I immediately identified as unique from others.

I arrived in Austria at the end of March 2024. For the first two weeks after February 24th, my family and I stayed in the village in the Kyiv region. Then, I spent a week in the western part of Ukraine, followed by nearly two weeks in Italy before settling in Graz, Austria. My aunt’s relatives, who had migrated abroad long ago, assisted me with the move.

Initially, moving abroad was considered a temporary solution for safety reasons. I first relocated with my relatives to a village in the Alps in the north of Italy. However, as the war prolonged, my aunt’s relatives suggested that I move to Graz, Austria. We stopped there for a night on our way to Italy, and I was immediately drawn to it. Graz offered more opportunities for study and work compared to the village. I’m deeply thankful to Yulia and Nadiya, two remarkable women, for hosting and supporting me in their apartment in Graz for nearly a year, particularly during periods of stress and uncertainty.


In Austria, I faced a variety of challenges that really tested me, such as overcoming the language barrier, finding employment in my field, adjusting to life far from my family while also being constantly worried about them. Starting over from scratch in a new place was a big adjustment, and it all added up to a pretty tough time. But through it all, I made some big changes: I started learning the language, got a job, got used to living abroad, and met a lot of nice people along the way.

For my professional development, I ran into numerous obstacles. Initially, I had a hard time because my qualifications weren’t acknowledged. What is more, my German language skills were far from being perfect; I was inexperienced with Austrian organizations and didn’t have any connections within the local community. Unfortunately, I initially faced numerous job rejections due to my limited language skills, which prompted me to prioritize improving my proficiency in German. But when I saw other Ukrainians who found jobs or figured out similar situations, it really inspired and motivated me. Achieving professional success in Austria requires patience, support, and employers who are open to diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Having previously studied abroad on an Erasmus program in Finland, I entered Austria without many expectations, especially with safety being the top priority. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of organization and the willingness of people to lend assistance and support.

Despite having proficient English skills, I soon realized they weren’t sufficient for securing a job or pursuing further studies in Austria. I also noticed a higher degree of bureaucratic processes here. However, I really appreciated how they made sure to follow the rules and laws so diligently. Furthermore, I discovered that social services are well-developed in Austria, setting a positive example for societal care. Additionally, I met lots of people who were readily willing to offer help, even on the streets.

I am trying to use the experience and knowledge I gained in Ukraine for my life here in Austria, as I believe it’s something valuable. I receive support from my family in Ukraine, friends, and new acquaintances here. Moreover, I find energy in helping others and participating in activities that restore routine to my life, such as working, taking walks, reading, enjoying coffee, and spending time with people. I am also grateful for the social services provided by migrant organizations and the kindness of strangers I encounter along the way, all of which contribute to my well-being and adaptation to life in Austria.

The advice I would give to Ukrainians living abroad is to listen to yourself and trust your intuition. Remember that your current situation is temporary, and you are not alone in facing these challenges. Work on becoming independent by learning the language and taking advantage of any opportunities that come your way. Remember that your hard work will pay off in the future. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and stick to your values, both in your personal life and at work. These principles will guide you along your journey and contribute to your overall well-being and success.


I discovered the Professional Integration HUB program through Instagram, which immediately caught my interest. After reading more about it and following the program’s social media channels, I felt motivated to apply. I’m incredibly grateful that I did, as it has opened numerous opportunities for me, and I’m thrilled with my decision to participate.

My key expectations for the program were to gain experience in the social field in Austria, establish network connections, facilitate knowledge exchange between Austrians and Ukrainians, and complete the internship using the German language. I am pleased to say that the internship exceeded these expectations. Not only did it provide me with valuable experience, but it also allowed me to meet other interesting and inspiring people.

My impressions of the experience are remarkably positive. I strongly believe that the knowledge and skills we bring from our lives in Ukraine can greatly benefit organizations here, and vice versa. Personally, I feel that I have significantly developed my professional skills during this time. Having the chance to witness how organizations operate from the inside, has motivated me to continue growing and has reduced my concerns about not having mastered the language completely.

One major difference I’ve noticed is that in Austria, there are many processes aimed at preventing youth problems, supported significantly by the government. This proactive approach is something I view positively. In Ukraine, while there are numerous non-governmental organizations active in youth work, there aren’t enough informational centers specifically dedicated to youth-related issues.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from the internship was the importance of observing how informational work with youth is organized. Seeing how the youth center works every day and the good it does for young people really showed me how important it is to keep working hard to support and empower them. This experience emphasized the importance of ongoing learning from others and the influence of effective youth-focused initiatives.


The internship in the Professional Integration HUB program has significantly influenced my professional ambitions. It has motivated me to push myself further and pursue ongoing professional development opportunities in my current environment. I believe it’s essential to leverage my current skills and knowledge while remaining receptive to new learning opportunities and personal development in a foreign setting.


There are significant opportunities to implement European experience to help Ukraine, particularly in the field of working with young people. By adopting similar instruments and approaches used in European countries for youth development and support, Ukraine can create spaces where young people can access vital information and resources (for example through Youth centers – such services as consultations, trainings about financial literacy, media literacy, youth rights; exchange programs; services for parents, youth workers and everyone who works with youth). Investing in youth is investing in the future, and providing them with the necessary tools and opportunities can empower them to contribute positively to society.

In my opinion, this experience would be most valuable in the fields of social work and youth work. By focusing on supporting youth and providing opportunities for children to develop their skills and potential, Ukraine can lay a strong foundation for the future. Enhancing youth programs and social services can empower young people to become active and engaged citizens and contribute positively to the community’s welfare and prosperity in the long run.