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Irene changed her career path and aimed for more job security

After two layoffs, Irene Arnerlind felt that it was time to take the leap and invest in enhancing her skills as well as change her career trajectory. She contacted a study and career guidance counselor, who helped her identify the path she could take to achieve her new goals. This is her story.

Irene Arnerlind
Irene Arnerlind outside her new office.

For over two decades, Irene dedicated her professional life to the fitness industry, holding various roles and responsibilities. For many years, she worked for a large national fitness chain, focusing on product and business development, and later as a manager with personnel responsibilities. Despite her love for the industry and sharing a passion with her colleagues, Irene occasionally felt concerned about a certain lack of professionalism. Ironically, this very deficiency became a reason for her growing interest in the workplace environment and labor law.

“During the pandemic, I was laid off due to a labor shortage. Shortly thereafter, I secured a new position within the industry with another employer. Then the war in Ukraine broke out, and the industry faced economic challenges again, leading to my second layoff due to a labor shortage. Instead of viewing it negatively, I thought that now it’s probably meant for me to change my career path.”

However, it was certainly not an easy decision to make the switch. Irene felt a bit fearful about returning to the classroom after so many years, and just having turned forty. She pondered whether it would be challenging to learn as an “older” individual and how she would manage her daily life. One of the most significant questions, of course, was where and what she should study to enhance her employability.

Irene sought guidance by contacting a study and career guidance counselor

Irene already had a university degree in both Business Administration/Leadership and Public Health. Her elective courses focused on people and organisations in development. While physical health had always been a focal point, Irene’s life experiences grew over the years and she also became interested in people’s mental well-being at work.

“My interest in group development, leadership and especially workplace environment and labor law has grown over the years. So, I knew I wanted to work with these issues, but I didn’t want to be dependent on just one industry. I contacted a study and career guidance counselor at my former university, who suggested that HR could be a broad path for me to take. She helped me find a course at Lund University in labor law and another course, HR in Theory and Practice, at Umeå University. Both were entirely online. Once I had started these full-time studies, I felt that I wanted to make the most of my study time and, therefore, I also enrolled in a professional training program as an HR Coordinator, which was also conducted online.”

Everyday finances

To financially manage her time as a student, Irene took student loans as well as additional loans available to those with children, along with grants. She also utilized some saved money and carefully planned her expenses. Irene learned to distinguish between needs and desires, explored second-hand alternatives, and had an additional job as a group fitness instructor. By being aware of her financial priorities and making wise purchasing decisions, she managed to balance life with a spouse, a house, children and studies.

“I’m a mom and I think moms in general are very efficient! I also have a strong drive and am very goal-oriented. Therefore, I didn’t find it challenging to juggle either time or finances. I looked forward to contributing to something ‘bigger,’ and I also desired increased job security, which is why I aimed for public service. It would pay off in the long run.”

Daily routines and online courses

Dropping off and picking up the children at preschool and school, attending parent-teacher conferences,  cooking, doing the dishes, laundry and driving to various activities is a daily reality that many parents can relate to. The fact that Irene’s studies were completely online, without any physical meetings, turned out to be a central piece of the puzzle to make all aspects of life fit together.

“For me, it was absolutely crucial! I wouldn’t have been able to go back and forth to Lund. It also wouldn’t have been possible to combine it with other studies or my extra job, along with pick-ups and drop-offs. In addition, I have to thank my partner because he did most of the housework.”

Easier to study when already in the workforce

“I found it luxurious to take a break from the workforce; having more knowledge in my backpack is only a positive thing. I also felt that it was easier to study now than it was right after high school. This is partly because I was probably more motivated now and knew what I would use the studies for, and partly because I could apply theories, different cases, laws, etc. from previously gained work experiences. I completed my studies, made a career change, and got a job as a Systems Coordinator in HR at Region Halland. One has to dare to take a leap to move forward.”

Did you know?

The general study guidance services at Lund University are open to you as an alum.
Feel free to read more about the services or book a meeting with the study advisers.
They are available both in person at the Lund Office or through digital meetings.
Learn more about Lund University’s study guidance services here.