Career talk #1: Career options after Master’s in Sweden

I receive a lot of career related queries from people, starting from ways of finding jobs/internships to writing CVs and cover letters. Though I am not an expert on any of these, in fact, I got numerous rejections last year while applying for internships. But that’s exactly when I realized that I was approaching the companies the wrong way with an un-Swedish CV. I feel I can use my blog as a platform to offer some help from the lessons I learned about these things in last one year.

I know I have a mixed set of audience for these topics. Some want help with their CVs, Cover letters, some want to know how to get Internships or part-time jobs. Some want to know how it works with finding a Master thesis or summer jobs. And some are just curious to know how does the job market work in Sweden.

To make it better organized, I’ll be publishing 5 different posts in this series during this month, following which I’ll be writing blog posts intended for new students.

Career Talk #1: Career options after Master’s in Sweden [This blog]

Career Talk #2: Dos and Dont’s for your CV & Cover letter [READ HERE]

Career Talk #3: Finding Part-time jobs, summer jobs, and internships [READ HERE]

Career Talk #4: Master Thesis Hunting guide [READ HERE]

Career Talk #5: How to look for jobs in Sweden [READ HERE]

Disclaimer: I have done a lot of research for writing these posts in the last couple of weeks ever since I came up with the idea of writing on this topic. But some of my suggestions could still be flawed so don’t consider this as a panacea.

I talked to some of my friends to know about their experiences about their experience while they searched for job/thesis which I will be mentioning in the upcoming posts. A big shout-out to Sandipan, Niroop, Dhiraj, Hassan, Pascal and many others whom I talked to get a broader idea of things.

Let’s get started with the first post

Career options after Master’s in Sweden

Let me start this with clearing a common misconception or rather a situation of unawareness. The most common question I get from the prospective students (and sometimes parents) from India is: How is the placement scenario at KTH. Well, the short answer to this question is: There is no placement scenario at KTH. But let me get into details. For those who are not from India, placements are something I suppose unique to India and some other countries when companies come to college campuses and recruit students. This kind of becomes a selling point for colleges based on the percentage of students who have jobs before they graduate.
In Sweden, or rather in Europe. Things work in a different way, university guarantees you a good education, good networking opportunities, good practical skills; however, finding a job is your own responsibility. This means, you don’t just need good grades, but your soft skills matter too. So my friends, forget the word placements if you plan to move out of India, and don’t expect the university to spoon feed you with certain limited options.

But don’t get worried, it’s not that you are isolated from the industry. It’s rather opposite, the education here is tightly coupled with industry and its demands. There are a lot of course-projects which will be sponsored or proposed by any company and you’ll be working closely with them. Then there are career fairs like Armada and many other departmental fairs where you get a chance to interact with company representatives. In fact, Armada, the career fair at KTH is the biggest career fair of Scandinavia with over 180 companies present at KTH campus every year.

Now, let’s get started with the main topic: What are the career options for a university graduate in Sweden. I’ll try to focus on the technical jobs as they are pertinent to the university education.

So as far as I understand, once you graduate you have four options.

  1. Work at a Company
  2. Pursue a PhD
  3. Start your own company
  4. Stay unemployed

Now that staying unemployed doesn’t qualify as a “career option”, let’s talk a bit about the first three.

1. Working at a company

Sweden is home to a lot of famous brands like Ericsson, Volvo, IKEA, Electrolux, Spotify….and the list goes on. Obviously, they all have job openings all the time. But not just these big brands, there are a lot of small and medium scale countries, who are basically suppliers/consultants to these big brands or have their own products, which have a lot of jobs. I was attending a lot of career meetups during summer, and during one of those events, a speaker told two interesting things about Swedish job market. 7 out of 10 new jobs are in small or medium scale companies.  And the other thing he told was quite interesting, 3 out of 5 new jobs are not advertised for.

But why am I telling this! there are two takeaways from this. First, Networking is very very important. If you have a good network, you might actually get a job pretty easily. The other important thing is, which no one will say out loud, but the importance of knowing Swedish. In small companies, with 10-30 employees, knowing some basic Swedish increases your employment chances by 2-3 times. And if you plan to stay here for more than two years, there is no harm in learning the language, in fact, it is the best way to know about the culture. Also, go to all possible networking events, that turns out to be really helpful.

You can take a look at the KTH Linkedin Page to know where and what kind of industries are the KTH Alumni working to get a broader idea of the possibilities after Master’s.

2. Pursue a Ph.D.

Ph.D. is considered to be a full-time job in Sweden, and you will be an employee of the university. Ph.D. consists of 80% research and 20% teaching. And it takes 5 years to complete, and the salary is also pretty decent, so don’t be lured into a company job if research interests you.

The vacancies for Ph.D. are continuously advertised on KTH Vacancies web page, but one can always approach their professors after their thesis if they are interested in working with them.

Interestingly, KTH is responsible for approximately one-third of Sweden’s technical research capacity and engineering educations.

3. Start your own company

The European Digital City Index (EDCI) placed Stockholm second in Europe when it comes to supporting digital entrepreneurs. And I see the overall ecosystem for starting a company is pretty good here. In fact, at KTH, KTH-Innovation provides free assistance and mentorship if you wish to start a company, a couple of my friends did start their companies and are working on it. [Read about Windiglobe]. There are 3 incubation centers right at the KTH campus, and much more around in Stockholm. So starting your own company is also not a bad Idea. In fact, Daniel Ek, the co-founder of Spotify is a KTH Alumnus. If you’re from India, you must know about True-caller, The co-founder Alan Mamedi is also from KTH.

Want to start a company? Don’t hesitate.

Read more blogs in this series:

Career Talk #2: Dos and Dont’s for CV & Cover letter in Sweden

Career Talk #3: Finding Part-time jobs, Summer jobs, and Internships

Career Talk #4: Master Thesis Hunting guide

Career Talk #5: How to look for jobs in Sweden

12 thoughts on “Career talk #1: Career options after Master’s in Sweden

  1. Abinav Shankar

    I am planning to do Vehicle Engineering at KTH and this is a big help for me. It would be even helpful if you consider writing about getting an admission in KTH or abroad.

  2. Shashwat Kumar

    Hi Abhineet,
    Thank you for all the interesting and useful posts.
    I have admits from KTH and Delft for CS. As I will be coming from India on loan, I am more concerned about the money aspect.
    Is the repayment of loan easy enough in Sweden with starting salaries? how are the tax rates?
    How likely is it to get excellence scholarship in the 2nd year based on grades of 1st year?
    I heard that housing is a difficult aspect as well there. What’s your view on that?
    How much proficiency one needs in Swedish?

  3. Abhineet Tomar Post author

    Hi Shashwat,

    Repayment of loans is obviously possible but you won’t be able to pay it back all at once for sure. The income tax rates are progressive, but in the range that you would be earning you would be paying around 31%. The excellence scholarship rather depends on the programme, in some programmes the initial courses are of high difficulty level so it is tough to get A’s in them. Few of my friends from other programmes got that scholarship, but no one I know got in my programme. Housing is difficult, but if you are a fee paying student, you get housing from KTH, which is comparatively cheaper as well.

    Regarding need of Swedish language in jobs – you can obviously get a job without speaking Swedish, but the number of options for you will increase many folds if you speak the language, and it kind of makes sense as well, if you plan to stay in a country for a longer period of time, it’s good that you speak the language.

  4. Hassam Riaz

    Hi Abhineet,
    Thank you for such an informative post.
    I have got an admit in Master of Machine Learning at kth. I have applied for scholarship but unfortunately couldn’t get it. I need to ask you that is there any way a first year student can get Research Assistantship at kth? Generally universities waive off the fee if you are a Research Assistant in a lab. Do mailing university or lab supervisors would help?

  5. Abhineet Tomar Post author

    Hello Hassam,
    It’s quite different with Sweden. I don’t think it makes sense emailing them from now when they don’t know your competency. My suggestion would be to complete at least one study period and then get in touch with professors, if a prof has a bunch of Ph.D. students, then they will be the teaching/lab assistants. This is currently the most common thing. However, a lot of profs employ Master’s students to assist them in some courses. I’ve worked in a similar job for one semester in the second year of my master’s.

    More importantly, being an assistant doesn’t waive off your tuition fee. It will just pay you an hourly wage. If you want to get your tuition fee waived off. You need to have a full-time job that can sponsor your work permit, so your student residence permit will be updated to a work permit, in which case you become a taxpayer and hence no tuition fee.

  6. Agil Jose

    i am planning to pursue my master’s in project management from sweden,
    like to know more about part-time job,there system of teaching,job after my master’s in sweden,about gothenburg city is it good get job in mechanical section ?
    i had loan for meeting my education needs.

    please provide me your valuable views.
    thank you

  7. Abhineet Tomar Post author

    Hi Agil,

    You can read a detailed post about part time jobs etc here.

    The system of teaching is quite good and there is more focus on the applied education and labs. Courses are conducted nicely, but I’ll still suggest talking to someone who is studying the programme that you plan to study.

    Regarding jobs in Gothenburg; for mechanical, surely Volvo is here and a bunch of more companies, but there are plenty of options in other parts of the country as well.

    I hope this answers your question.

  8. agil jose

    ya,its great staff for me yaar.
    but, you didn’t said anything about get job after my master degree as we are from non-eu citizen.
    like to know about staying in sweden after my masters
    please provide some view point of yours.

  9. Abhineet Tomar Post author

    Hi Agil,

    For Non-EU citizens, once you get a job, you get a work permit according to the contract with your company. Without a job, you have an option to extend your Residence permit for 6 more months to search for a job after finishing your Master’s.

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