Working as a German in Greece (SPIEGEL Online – Video)

iTrust, a Google Partner, is a results-oriented digital agency. Since 2006 we assist local and global brands drive up sales, increase awareness and expand their networks. Last week we found ourselves in the top-3 videos of Spiegel Online. This is the story of how it happened.

A little while ago we were looking for a german copywriter for our offices in Thessaloniki to cope with the clients operating in Germany.

Given the strong ties many people from Thessaloniki have with Germany and the existence of the German School of Thessaloniki, we were able to interview a number of truly great candidates.

But Florian Schmitz, copywriter, project designer, blogger, media consultant and press liaison, impressed us both with his skillset and the fact that he was a perfect culture fit with the rest of our team.

Last week, Spiegel Online was toured by Florian through Thessaloniki, trying to understand how current Greek-German relationships have evolved, how working in Greece as a German feels like and what issues capital controls have raised for firms like iTrust and its clients.

That’s a lot to cover in 5 minutes. For that, we’ll let Florian himself say his side of the story.

Why iTrust in Thessaloniki – Moving to Greece in troubled times


Florian: When I came to Greece about a year and a half ago, my expectations of actually finding a job were slim to nill. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about it. And now, I am sitting here, as an official iTrust employee, surrounded by hard-working colleagues and getting paid for what I always wanted to do: creating content.


I moved to Greece in December 2013.  Of course I was – and still am – aware of the difficult situation the country is struggling with. Therefore, I was not surprised when both, people in Germany and people in Greece thought I was crazy. While the Germans celebrated me as some kind of risk-it-all adventurer, most Greeks I met wouldn’t believe me. “Are you nuts? Everybody is leaving! What do you think you are doing?”


The truth is usually somewhere in the middle


Well, there is some truth in both viewpoints, but, as usual, the reality and the dimensions of my decision to leave Germany arise somewhere in the middle. The life of an individual cannot be grasped from the stereotypical images the media produce of Greece – and also of Germany. My being here is the result of my personal history, a chain of coincidences and hard work. Apparently the outcome is still, well, weird. So weird that even the German magazine ‘Spiegel’ made an interview with me.


If people ask me about my motives, I always say that after 13 years and despite the deep connections I have with Berlin: I was sick of the city and needed a change. Unlike many people in Greece automatically assume: For a literature major, Berlin is not an easy city to deal with. A lot of competition, low pay and most of all: Berlin is done. Berlin already has it all. It does not need yet another copywriter or journalist.


Drastic measures, but worth it


Long story short: I needed to leave, expand my horizon, swim against the swarm. I owe Berlin a lot, but I somehow knew that only a drastic location change and facing challenges beyond the typical ‘which-agency-in-Berlin-can-I-identify-with-the-most’ would satisfy both, my constant urge to discover new worlds and my desire to apply all the knowledge and experiences I acquired in Berlin.


Now I am here, 18 months later. Still fighting with the Greek language (they have about twenty thousand varieties of the vowel ‘e’ – drives me f#!§ing nuts!), but getting settled. Apart from being among the few privileged people to have a steady job now, including health insurance, I get to work with amazing and highly qualified people. I encounter a professional, warm-hearted and open work environment. And I learn new things.


iTrust – Learning and evolving


We work with international clients and global brands that do business abroad. We don’t care too much about the fact that many people have given up upon Greece. We work hard, maybe harder than in other in places of Europe right now. We develop digital marketing strategies, we generate or pin-point international audiences and we are successful. Because of our know-how, our customers make more money. And because of that, we ALL develop and grow.


As hard as the situation might be, to me iTrust is an example of the fact that, even under the most difficult circumstances, a good idea can always strive. It needs knowledge, people who believe in it, patience, a strong will and the right team in the right place. I found my team in Thessaloniki and as a German I feel glad and honored to be part of an undertaking that so harshly contrasts the medial depiction of Greece. And – last but not least – I feel welcome and needed as German in Greece, despite all the conflicts these two countries are currently facing.