Building Experience as a Scrum Master

Last post 12:03 am September 18, 2020
by Mark Adams
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02:01 pm September 17, 2020

Hi All, 

Firstly a huge THANK YOU to this community for getting me through my certifications (PSM I and PSPO I), the blogs and forums kept me inspired and motivated!

I'm at an awkward stage in my life where, after being a professional architect (in the building industry) for 6+ years, I'm making a career change. I always enjoyed the project management side of architecture more than the design but the projects were managed all wrong (waterfall) and it was heartbreaking! I didn't know there was an alternative until I read about Agile and Scrum and it changed my life. Made SO much sense, everything clicked, I resonated with it and now I can't believe I even had a life before knowing this info. I inspected and adapted my life, quit my job and after getting the certifications started shadowing as a Scrum Master at a company. It went really well and they offered me a contract - employed as a Scrum Master. Them finding value in me felt like the biggest validation I could get! Here's the problem... This is all in South Africa but my husband and I are moving to the Netherlands next month and I need to find work. I am applying for positions but with only 2 months experience I'm strugging for companies to see past that. 

I would really appreciate some guidance as to how to break into the industry in the Netherlands? Are there possibilities to intern / shadow and show my skills to a company after which they might consider taking me on? It is that difficult situation of needing experience but not having enough to get the job to get more experience. I also feel I have way more experience than it may appear to employers because of all the project management I did before. The 'what not to do' is very firmly engrained in my mind and it is what drives me to be a great Scrum Master. 

Mijn Nederlands is nog niet vloeiend, maar ik ben aan het leren en omdat mijn moedertaal Afrikaans is, merk ik dat ik het meeste al kan begrijpen. :)

Sorry for the long story, I hope someone in the Netherlands is prepared to read through it and give me some advice. It would be so much appreciated!

Thank you!

 

06:03 pm September 17, 2020

Wat een inspirerend verhaal! (What an inspirational story!)

Your obvious passion will stand you in good stead (make sure this comes across in your CV or a covering letter), and the Netherlands seems to be renowned for the breadth of organizations that have embraced agility and Scrum.
Most people here do speak English, and there are workplaces where English is enough, but at least some level of Dutch is a prerequisite for Scrum Master vacancies in many organizations. I suspect your current level of Dutch will be enough for many companies, even if they advertise wanting fluent Dutch.

I'm a bit out of the loop since the onset of Covid-19, but for a long time, we had a wealth of Scrum and agile meetup events (NL Scrum, Agile Holland, Agile Beer, Liberating Structures, Scrum Caretakers, Agile People). Some based in Amsterdam; but others spread around the country. I believe some are now online, some have been cancelled, and others may now be taking place in-person again with social distancing in place.
These could be a good opportunity to network, and I should think you can join some online ones already.

12:03 am September 18, 2020

It is important to highlight the training, mentoring and facilitating which you may have done in previous work. I left coaching out intentionally because this is something that most people in technology don't comprehend. Focus on your overall experience because hiring managers will look at candidates holistically. I don't know if contracting is as popular in The Netherlands as it is in the US, but if you are offered short-term contracts (6-12 months) by staffing companies, accept them. Most technology staffing companies in the US are based overseas, primarily in India. Most of these do not convert because the technology industry has intentionally gone toward a contingent worker workforce to save on costs. And keep applying for full-time employment on your own as well. Networking never benefited me, but I wouldn't discourage others from it. And if you can afford it, take other Agile certifications as well. There are four main Agile certification bodies these days, including Scrum.org.