Professional Integration HUB



A unique internship program for Ukrainian professionals in Austria


30 May 2024

Olesia Kyselova: “My experience in Austria has given me some real-life skills and competencies that can play a vital role in Ukraine’s future reconstruction”

Olesia Kyselova, Participant of the Professional Integration HUB 1.0 Program.

  • Age: 36 years old
  • City in Ukraine where you lived before the full-scale invasion (forced relocation): Kyiv
  • Specialization: Project Management


Before the full-scale invasion, I held a rewarding position as a Project Manager at Laba Group, an EdTech startup based in Ukraine. My primary responsibility was to lead the company’s expansion into the Romanian and Czech markets. I headed a creative team responsible for developing marketing materials and campaigns customized for each target market. This role provided me with the opportunity to apply my project management skills while navigating the complexities of international marketing strategies.

The EdTech landscape in Ukraine is currently experiencing rapid evolution, powered by advancements in technology and a growing emphasis on digital education. Despite the challenges brought about by the war, innovative startups continue to emerge, driven by a shared vision to revolutionize education through technology.


The full-scale war in Ukraine found me at home in Kyiv. Awakening to the sounds of explosions, the seriousness of the situation became clear. My primary concern was my three-year-old son, Phil, and I knew we needed to find safety. Lacking access to a car, finding alternative transportation in the midst the war’s chaos was a significant challenge.

Fortunately, we managed to find the only bus heading to Rivne, in western Ukraine. As we left, the echoes of explosions served as a vivid reminder of the necessity to flee. After arriving in Rivne, we experienced a sense of calmness, offering a break from the chaos of war. With all the uncertainty, we decided to stay with my husband’s cousin in Germany.

Our time in Germany was short. In early April 2022, with assistance from my sister’s employer, who facilitated relocation for displaced families, we found ourselves in Austria. Although Austria wasn’t our original plan, the assurance of safety and stability called out to us, offering hope for a brighter future amid the chaos in our homeland.


Adapting to life in Austria presented numerous challenges for my family and me. The biggest problem was the language barrier. Even though a lot of Austrians speak English, getting by day-to-day and dealing with official stuff required learning German. Having to learn a whole new alphabet from scratch made it really tough. Getting used to a different culture and lifestyle was extra hard especially for me. Fortunately, my son quickly picked up German at kindergarten and formed new friendships. However, finding suitable accommodation and understanding systems like healthcare proved to be major challenges.

When it came to finding a job, the biggest challenge was finding one that fit my skills and experience. Despite holding a good position in Ukraine, breaking into the Austrian job market proved difficult due to differences in rules and certifications.

Life in the EU brought both surprises and delights. Public services functioned smoothly, the environment was clean, and overall quality of life was high. We settled in the charming village of Perchtoldsdorf, where a generous Austrian family embraced us warmly, treating us as part of their own. Their kindness touched us deeply, especially when they provided toys and clothes for my son, Phil, demonstrating that in difficult times, people can display remarkable kindness. Our relationship with the apartment owners is excellent; we often get together and help each other. Katrin and Herbert have become like Austrian grandparents to Phil, for which we are immensely grateful.

For fellow Ukrainians living abroad, I advise perseverance and initiative. Mastering the local language is crucial for integration. Making friends with other Ukrainians and using what’s around here can open doors to opportunities. In addition, it’s important to stay flexible and patient when dealing with the ups and downs of life in a new country.


I discovered the Professional Integration HUB program through Instagram and decided to take the opportunity. My primary aim was to broaden my knowledge, connect with new people, and get experience in international work environment. The experience exceeded my expectations in every way.

Looking back on my internship, I am really grateful for the chance, especially considering it was my first time working in public sector. Interacting with diverse professionals from various backgrounds enriched my understanding and boosted my confidence. Also, getting to know other Ukrainian professionals in Austria was particularly useful.

While I was working at the Austrian Integration Fund, I led several projects. One remarkable job was organizing a presentation on the latest AI trends worldwide, which I presented during a team meeting. Additionally, I arranged a study visit to the Austrian Integration Fund, successfully managing the event on April 5th, 2024. Seeing these projects go so smoothly, made me feel satisfied.

Working at the Austrian Integration Fund had its tricky parts, especially when it came to setting up cultural events. But my colleagues were always there to help out and that made it a positive and really good place to work.

The most valuable lesson I got from this experience is the importance of seizing opportunities for growth. Taking on new challenges not only expanded my skills but also helped me grow personally and professionally.


Thinking about the future, my internship with the Professional Integration HUB program has really changed my career aspirations. It has broadened my outlook, equipped me with invaluable skills, and made me even more passionate to promote diversity, innovation, and societal impact. I am determined on using what I learned in this internship to start a career in government work. I want to focus on advancing integration, diversity, and inclusive development.

Moreover, my experience in Austria has given me some real-life skills and competencies that can play a vital role in Ukraine’s future reconstruction. For instance, the knowledge I obtained in governmental institutions, particularly in event project management, can be adapted to similar initiatives in Ukraine, setting up cultural and community events.

Furthermore, the connections I made with other professionals and my boosted cross-cultural communication skills will be useful in helping Ukraine work with other countries to make progress.

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