Professional Integration HUB



A unique internship program for Ukrainian professionals in Austria


3 June 2024

Olena Tereshchuk: “I understand how and where to broaden my experience and how to adapt it to the post-war reality in Ukraine”

Olena Tereshchuk, Participant of the Professional Integration HUB 1.0 Program (ÖIF).

  • Age: 37 years old
  • City in Ukraine where you lived before the full-scale invasion (forced relocation): Kyiv
  • Specialization:  Master’s degree in financial law and taxation (Lawyer)


I served as the Chief Operating Officer and Business Development Director at MORIS GROUP LAW COMPANY from March 2016 to December 2023. I possess 8 years of professional experience at the national level, specializing in advocating for and implementing strategic organizational initiatives across various operational management domains. These include business management, administration, operations, project management, financial management and reporting, budgeting, legal supervision, human resources, and business development.

I consider myself a successful top manager in Ukraine. My former company provided me with significant opportunities that have been crucial in shaping my personal and professional success. Prior to the outbreak of the war, my job was not just a career but also my greatest passion. I was fueled by ambitious goals, engaging projects, a supportive team, and exciting plans for the future. The pre-war legal market was vibrant and dynamic, characterized by significant investment projects, government initiatives, social projects, and extensive business development networks. However, the outbreak of war suddenly redirected the legal market’s focus from development to survival. 


The war reached our home in Kyiv at 5 a.m. on the 22nd of February. My husband, our one-year-old daughter, our two dogs, and I were filled with fear. We packed our belongings chaotically into the cars and, driven by primal fear, fled Kyiv with no clear destination. It took us six hours just to reach the highway, and we decided to head towards the Ukrainian border with Slovakia.

At midnight, my daughter and I crossed the border on foot, leaving our previous lives behind. With the help of volunteers, we managed to catch a train in Košice, and after ten hours, we arrived in Vienna. By the 23rd of February, we were in Vienna, driven solely by fear. We were given shelter for a month by people who knew my mother-in-law. We had no choice but to rely on luck and God’s mercy.


The first year was filled with expectations. I thought I’d be home in two weeks, but it wasn’t meant to be. The challenges were the same as for everyone else: finding a place to live, figuring out transportation, obtaining medicine and medical treatment for my child, finding clothes, toiletries, and so on.

In the second year of the full-scale war, I realized that I needed to do more than just wait. I took my first step toward integration by enrolling in German courses and starting to look for a job. This remains my biggest challenge: maintaining my professional skills and leveraging my experience in the Austrian labor market.

The reality is harsh. You are alone with your problems in a new environment, struggling with a significant language barrier, a lack of social connections, and being outside your professional field. My decision to stay here until the war ends is driven only by my daughter’s safety and well-being. If it weren’t for her, I would never have left Ukraine.


I came across an application the Professional Integration HUB on social media and applied for it. I was desperate at the time and didn’t expect it to change my life so quickly. By that point, I had applied for at least 60 jobs and received only negative responses.

I am grateful for this opportunity. It has been an amazing journey, during which I have met so many wonderful people and regained my hope for a stable and normal life. I have increased my self-confidence, boosted my CV, and now understand that Ukrainian specialists are a strong competitive force in the Austrian labor market.


After this internship, I know what I need to do to be successful in my career here. I understand how and where to broaden my experience and how to adapt it to the post-war reality in Ukraine by implementing new projects. Now, I can face new challenges with greater confidence. I am on my way to a new life, and I am hopeful that I will succeed.

Series of Interviews with Participants of the Professional Integration HUB Program.