For Ahmad Saadeha, a Syrian-born Palestinian, the process left him feeling “a little bit desperate”. But today both have full-time work and are happily planning their future careers in Sweden.
They tell The Local how signing up to Sweden’s nationwide internship programme, Jobbsprånget, can totally transform your career prospects. Internships with Jobbsprånget, a government-backed programme, last four months – and 60 percent of people who complete one find employment (the figure was 70 percent before the pandemic).
500 job applications but no offers
Annapoorna moved to Sweden five years ago with her husband after he was offered a job in Helsingborg. She had worked in communications for a decade in India and had studied and worked in English all her life.
While her first priority was settling into Sweden with her young daughter, she had no idea what she’d face when she did begin hunting for jobs after six months.
“I was under the assumption that it would work as it does in India, where things can happen pretty fast,” she says. But soon automated rejection messages were filling her inbox. She was also told that her basic Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) certification might not be sufficient for finding work.
As she dedicated her time to applications, networking and learning Swedish, the challenges began to take a toll. “I started questioning myself on the confidence level,” she says. “Emotionally, I was getting a bit drained. It’s not easy to become fluent in Swedish when you’ve been so comfortable speaking English. Even now I can manage very well but fluency will come over the years.”
Across several years of job hunting, Annapoorna made 500 applications, from which she gained 20 interviews but no offers.
Wanted: English-speaking university graduates
Fortunately, you don’t need to speak Swedish to apply to Jobbsprånget as the programme is run in English. You do, however, need to be registered at Arbetsförmedlingen, Sweden’s Public Employment Service.
You must also have a degree in engineering, architecture, science or business/finance. English-speaking graduates who were born outside Europe and are looking for work in Sweden are a priority group.
After learning about and registering with Arbetsförmedlingen, Annapoorna was told by a job coach that Jobbsprånget was “the best option for people with a strong background in English”.
This proved wise advice. In October 2020, she began an internship in a communications role at Heimstaden, a property management company. She admits she had some initial inhibitions about Swedish work culture, but says they soon melted away. She has since secured a full-time role at Heimstaden as a Talent Development Officer.
“It was a very open and friendly work culture,” she says. “From the beginning, I was given lots of responsibilities and lots of support, even when I was working from home.”
Annapoorna advises job hunters to remember 3Ps: patience, perseverance and participation in networking. Perhaps, even more important is one J: “Everybody should definitely apply for Jobbsprånget.”
From desperation to a dream job
Ahmad lives in Gothenburg and has now been working in the city for four years as an IT business analyst at Volvo Group. Such a life seemed a distant prospect when he arrived in Sweden in 2016, knowing nothing about the job market.
“I was looking at international companies that didn’t require Swedish skills and I was a little bit desperate due to not getting any responses,” he recalls.
His life changed in 2017 when he was surprised to be contacted by a Jobbsprånget employee who had seen his LinkedIn profile and felt he had the skills to make a good candidate.
He began applying for English-speaking internships through the programme and was soon offered an interview and then an internship at Volvo.
There was just one significant problem: he was living in a village almost 200km from Gothenburg. “I had to ask myself ‘Are you willing to travel almost five hours per day to take this chance?’” The answer was yes. From February to June 2017, he left home in the early morning on his bike, arriving at Volvo’s offices two-and-a-half hours later after two bus rides and a train journey. “It was really difficult for me but it was a big opportunity,” says Ahmad. “Looking back, I didn’t imagine I would be so well-established in this period of time. I’ve now got everything I dreamed about from my employer.”
Ahmad, who has previously lived in Damascus, Bangkok, Dubai and Doha, has no intention of leaving the job or Gothenburg and says he has even turned down offers from abroad.
Applications are now open
Now that they know Swedish working culture from the inside, both Annapoorna and Ahmad find much to admire about it. “There’s a lot of emphasis on trust and how a person fits into an organisation,” says Annapoorna. “I feel very confident about continuing my career path in Sweden.”
Ahmad says he has been given opportunities to stretch himself since talking openly with managers about his role. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! And as these two international workers can testify, where better to start than by asking to join Jobbsprånget?