In July 2016, the European Commission released the Regional Innovation Scoreboard that ranked Sweden as the most innovative country in Europe.
Deservedly at the top of the list, the Swedes could be described as an ambitious society, as a result, Sweden has attracted a huge influx of international students wishing to experience what the country has to offer.
For a young resolute professional, it’s impossible not to take a shot at the vast career opportunities Sweden may provide. With so many opportunities available, it should be easy for someone to land themselves a job immediately after studies.
But is it?
International students can attend Swedish universities through different ways depending on their country of origin. Through exchange programs, students from inside the EU (European Union) can access Swedish universities.
For students outside the EU who have to pay somewhat high tuition fees, a number of scholarship awarding bodies are able to offer full or partial scholarships to deserving recipients. One such body is the Swedish Institute (SI), which offers study scholarships to prospective students around the world. In short SI, has made it possible for people from different parts of the world to attend Swedish universities.
Despite a good number of international students showing interest in living in Sweden after their studies, getting a job or a PhD position in Sweden may not be so easy. As a result, not everyone is lucky enough to find a job within a short time after completion of their studies.
Below are some tips that may improve people’s chances of getting a job or a PhD after completing studies in Sweden. The advice comes from an Experience Sharing Workshop on Study and Work in Sweden organised in December 2016 by the NFGL Local Network in Linköping.
Though not in any particular order, the following information may be useful to anyone considering to work or finding a PhD placement in Sweden.
In Sweden, it is a huge challenge to come by a job were Swedish language is not a requirement. Despite English being the medium of communication in most work environments or academia, proficiency in Swedish is almost always requested. If you meet this requirement, you may have a very significant advantage in getting a job. So, lär dig svenska (learn Swedish).
Apply for jobs while studying
In most cases, people have struggled with getting on after their studies because they are unemployed. Because positive job responses may sometimes take a while, applying for job placements and scholar positions while still in university may be very helpful. If you do so, you will reduce the chances that you have to wait for a long time before getting a job are higher.
Choose a thesis topic carefully
To know exactly how good a master’s thesis is, or its potential, may sometimes seem very difficult. By potential, we mean assessing how large your audience is. Good research should be of interest to other academicians in your field. Therefore, it is an advantage to find a thesis that allows you to continue with the research easily further at PhD. Companies and organizations may from time to time send in thesis topics depending on their interests, and if you were to pick on such a research topic, it is highly likely that afterwards you may get a job or an opportunity for a PhD with that same company.
Pick the right supervisor
Usually, lecturers in your department are well connected and informed about which research areas attract interest. Therefore, it is also very important to find or have a suitable academic supervisor. It is also important to remember that the right supervisor is also a good reference.
Get an internship
An internship may be the best way to showcase your skills and abilities. Just like a good thesis, a good internship makes for a good CV. Through the internship, you can also build good relations with employers. Depending on your performance, this may provide an opportunity to be considered for a job placement or other career attachments with the company.
Don’t only look online
Nowadays, the internet is a very useful platform to search for jobs. Numerous websites can save you a lot of time and money in searching for the right job based on your skills. For jobs in Sweden you can use Arbetsförmedlingen's 'Platsbanken' or English-language job listtins on The Local. However, it is also important to know that sometimes job openings may not be hosted on job-search websites, therefore it may be helpful not to entirely rely or focus too much on them.
Sell yourself on social media
Many companies and organizations are increasingly using social media to inform the public about their activities and operations. Following their pages can provide a very useful amount of information on job prospects. It is also useful to exploit social media to sell yourself. Platforms such as LinkedIn can come very handy for prospective employers to get to know you. As such, it is wise to put up a short and catchy CV.
Network, network, network
Being active in various networks and attending events is the best way to meet and make connections with an audience of professionals, including academics and potential employers. Conferences, symposiums, and seminars provide a great community for international and well associated people that can offer useful information, connections, and tips on job and academic possibilities. The Swedish Institute has done a tremendous job in motivating and continuously providing opportunities for international scholars to actively participate in networking events. Such events allow individuals to ask questions and most of all to meet others who share similar experiences and interest.
Save some money
Life can be rather challenging after graduation and sometimes it may take time to find a proper job that fits your background. Unfortunately, Sweden is an expensive country and in order to handle the living expenses after graduation it is highly recommended and very wise to save some money that can compensate your unstable employment position until you are able to get a job.
By Luunga Munasinyungwe, NFGL Local Network Linköping