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'Be employable and ready to work damn hard'

11 Mar 2013, 13:36

Published: 11 Mar 2013 13:36 GMT+01:00

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When Hugosson finished his university studies in Australia in 2005, moving to Sweden wasn't the first thing on his mind as he prepared to enter the labour force.

But after meeting a Swedish woman and deciding it was "time to see the world", Hugosson found himself in Sweden a few months later, unsure of what sort of career would unfold for him on the other side of the globe.

"My first trip to Sweden was when I moved here. I had no idea what I was in for. I was told they were naked, blonde and socialists," he says to The Local with a laugh.

Hugosson managed to overcome a temperature difference "big enough to boil water" and enrolled in Swedish language classes for immigrants (SFI).

But Hugosson had "no idea" what he wanted to do and almost ended his Swedish career ambitions before they began.

"When I came I was pretty naive. I thought I would get a job right away and the fact that I couldn’t speak the language didn’t really play into any of my calculations," he recalls.

"I seriously underestimated things and was a week away from leaving Sweden altogether."

But just days before packing up and heading back to Australia, contacts "saved" him, says Hugosson.

"It’s a long story that involves neighbours, old bosses, and Swedes living in Australia," he explains.

"But I ended up getting a job as a key account manager with the export department of a trade fair company that really needed an English speaker."

During his time at the firm, Hugosson began getting more involved in politics, finding himself attracted to the Social Democrats after reading about Olof Palme.

"Everyone seemed to talk about him and I wondered who he was. I then found the Olof Palme International Centre and learned more about foreign development work," says Hugosson.

SEE ALSO: More interviews from our My Swedish Career series

Realizing how much money Sweden devoted to foreign development aid was a real eye-opener for Hugosson.

"I went to one of the Palme Centre's trainings without knowing a word of Swedish. I realize I may have looked a bit silly, but it was something I really wanted to get involved with," he says.

After going through additional training, Hugosson ended up heading to Iraq on an internship arranged by the Palme Centre, an experience he says was critical in his decision to pursue a career in politics with the Social Democrats even though he wasn't politically active back in Australia.

Now Hugosson works for the party's youth wing, the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbund, SSU) as a campaign ombudsman for the party's Stockholm district.

"I got the job in response to an ad, but I had familiarized myself with the organization long beforehand. I got involved, proved I was competent, worked hard, and got the job," he says.

In looking back at how his career in Sweden has unfolded, he can't emphasize enough the importance of education, contacts, and "working damn hard".

"The best tip for getting a job is education. Be employable. That involves both the language and being competent," he says.

"After seven years, I still go home and study. I write things down so that hopefully one day my Swedish will be perfect."

Attending courses at a university or folk high school (folkhögskola) can help with competence, language, and making contacts, according to Hugosson.

"You can learn the language while you build up a contact network. I know a few people, who like me migrated to Sweden, that have done this and they are very successful. I didn’t do this but I wish I had, it would have made a huge difference," he says.

SEE ALSO: Click here for the latest listings for jobs in Sweden

Hugosson also cautions against falling back on the fact that many Swedes speak English.

Story continues below…

"Everyone speaks English but they like to speak Swedish even more. Who doesn’t prefer to speak their mother tongue? Learn it, you won’t regret it," he advises.

Learning Swedish also helps make networking easier.

"Without the Swedish I found making contacts a little hard going. Small talk is great for mingling but I couldn’t really make it work for a long time," he explains.

Joining a club or organization is another great way to make contacts and improve language skills, which also explains the importance of learning more about Sweden, both in terms of getting a job but also for establishing a life in Sweden.

"Learn how society works. Learn about Sweden and take an interest. Learn the most important government agencies and how they work for you," he says.

"Be active. It’s not about being 'integrated'; it’s living life to the full and using all the tools that you have at your disposal. And of course working really damn hard."

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Your comments about this article

16:24 March 11, 2013 by Siyana
Another article saying practically nothing.

"It's a long story that involves neighbours, old bosses, and Swedes living Australia," he explains.

Yes, it is all about having the right connections and recommendations here, nothing more. Otherwise lots of people are "employable" and ready to work hard.
17:27 March 11, 2013 by Achilles7
Agree entirely with the first comment.

These stories are always the same: you need to work hard, make contacts, learn the language, keep trying, etc. etc.

Why is this news?

It would make for a much better story if someone wrote: "I arrived in Sweden without speaking a word of the language, without having a job and without knowing anybody. Luckily, on my first night out in Stureplan, I met a buxom blonde who took a fancy to me and said I could come and live in her penthouse apartment in Östermalm rent free, and I haven't looked back since."

Now that would be newsworthy.
19:06 March 11, 2013 by Joeblack
Do you think if this man will the chances if he was a refugee from Arabia or Africa? No Way dude. I m sure he will be criticized ,asked to stop wasting his time and go back to the place he came from. Come on Sweden be realistic
21:06 March 11, 2013 by AfroSwede
I am sure i am 10 times educated than this dude
21:14 March 11, 2013 by Siyana
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
04:43 March 12, 2013 by hewsmike
I agree. A puff piece. Rather like an exit poll from a minefield, you'll always meet winners and grinners.
09:46 March 12, 2013 by Max Reaver
- But after meeting a Swedish woman and deciding it was "time to see the world"

That's your first big mistake mate, Sweden is not a good place for "seeing the world", at least compared to where I'm from in NY.

Anyway, my father came to Sweden after he turned 40, since my mom started working as an university professor here. He held chief engineer position in a top 10 among the fortune 500 companies, but still had to walk many years unemployed. It wasn't before he turned his problem into everyone else's problem that he finally found a decent job that matched his expertise. That's another way of saying "use your contacts". Don't know what happened to our Aussie friend above, but from the way he described it, it must have been quite emotional in the end. So this is the thing, there is the diplomatic way of using your contacts where you politely ask for their help. There is also the desperate way, where you project your frustration into their minds, so in the end, they feel guilty for not helping you. Once you are happily employed, everybody is happier. That is a stronger incentive of making others lend you their support.
02:51 March 13, 2013 by hewsmike
"Once you are happily employed, everybody is happier. That is a stronger incentive of making others lend you their support."

Well yes. Except for the bit where they no longer answer your calls because you hassled them so much last time ..... for building lasting friendships I don't think guilt & manipulation are the right currencies.
09:20 March 13, 2013 by Max Reaver
" for building lasting friendships I don't think guilt & manipulation are the right currencies"

Of course agree with that. But desperate times call for desperate measures. You also need strong, well-connected and willing friends to help other than those who do nothing but "ooolala" with you when drunk. And trust me, when you are unemployed you are not in a capable position of building lasting friendships.
09:50 March 13, 2013 by Rishonim
Is love the only motivating reason why people will venture to move to Sweden? I would like to read about someone who came here because they landed a job or that they came to try the work market... I guess Sweden is the land of the eternal refugee; (Love or escaping peril)...I would also like to know how many of those relationship last beyond the first year and why would you continue to stay? It cannot all be about love!
10:57 March 13, 2013 by oldscot1
For what it is worth, I came to work. Some one called me and asked if I would like a job in Sweden. Being freshly divorced, i thought a change is as good as a rest. If still married I would never have considered it. I loved it. When the work finished, I tried a few months in back in UK.

So I came back, no job, no prospects. Almost by accident, I found work. Not the same as my proffesion, but a job that paid the rent. I became really laid back.

A friend came to visit. He commented on my driving, it is now so slow, I form traffic jams. After 30 years on the M4, about a RIZLA paper between me and the car in front, I now leave miles.

I would never return to the UK. THey can bury me here. I have paid for it after all!
12:22 March 13, 2013 by Phillynilly
I guess his last name didn't do much harm either... Imagine if it had been Mwabe or Al Salami
19:04 March 13, 2013 by bcn86
sorry couldn't read the article. when i read the title and thought of sweden and hard work... i had to laugh... is like saying rajoy and creating employment in spain! hahahaha
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