Peter Pinter’s stint in the UK paid off big when he wanted to come home and find a job with an international focus.  Now working for a Hungary-led software firm, he feels he ‘could be anywhere in the EU’

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When he graduated from the University of Szeged in 2016 with a bachelor’s in English and a master’s degree in international relations, Peter Pinter found it tough to get a job, because employers wanted at least two years’ experience. Frustrated, Peter followed his girlfriend to the UK, where he worked at McDonalds for a month and later on in customer relations.

After two years, he was ready to move back home. Brexit made him feel insecure. “I figured I should have more opportunities in Hungary by now.” He was on a shuttle bus at Luton Airport heading for a flight to Budapest when his brother called. He was working at a start-up called Antavo in Szeged. The company helps retail, fashion and lifestyle brands run their loyalty programs. An account manager position had opened up and the Antavo needed someone who spoke fluent English. “He basically sold me on the job on the phone,” Peter says.  “It was perfect for me.”

‘I could be anywhere in the EU’

Antavo was growing quickly. Big brands like ToysRUs, Pepsi and LuisaRoma were using the company’s software to build up customer relationships. In 2018, the company attracted a €1.3 million investment from Innovation Nest, a venture capital firm supported by the European Investment Fund under the European Union’s Investment Plan for Europe. The money helped the company gain the heft needed to attract more clients by investing in marketing and sales.

Peter’s job is one of millions created with the support of the European Investment Bank Group, which includes the European Investment Fund and the European Investment Bank. By 2021, investments signed by the European Investment Bank Group in 2017 alone are expected to raise EU gross domestic product by 1.1% and to create 1.2 million jobs. Even in 2036, EU GDP will be 0.7% higher as a result of the EIB’s 2017 investments, and 650 000 extra jobs will have been added.  

Peter, now 27, started the job in April, and has been settling back into life in Hungary. He says that Antavo’s international profile has made the transition a little easier. The company, which has about 45 employees, is registered in the UK but has its headquarters in Szeged, and representatives in the United States, France, Italy and Poland. “There’s actually not much of a difference from working in London. I could be anywhere in the EU,” Peter says.

Peter, who benefited from EU integration, has found himself in the uncomfortable position of being surrounded by anti-EU sentiment, both in Hungary and in the UK. He says that in his experience, the sentiment is not shared by young people.

“I still very much think that the future of Europe lies in the EU,” he says. “It’s terrifying that we are having second thoughts when we have come so far.”