This is the third post in the Career Talk series of blogs. In my previous posts, I wrote about the career prospects after Masters in Sweden and do’s and dont’s for CVs and cover letters. These are essential documents for applying for any job here!
As a master’s student, there are various opportunities for which you can apply during the course of two years!
In the first year, you might be looking for summer jobs, part-time jobs, and internships.
In the second year, you will surely be looking for thesis projects and full-time jobs (and even summer jobs).
And towards the end of the second year, you’d be hunting for fulltime jobs.
In this post, I will be discussing the first part, looking for part-time jobs, summer jobs, and internships. I have kept them separate from the second part because there is a slight difference in the way you approach them.
To gather content for this post, I talked to few of my friends who were working part-time or got internships, and I will share my personal experience too.
Summer Jobs and Internships
Let’s start with summer jobs. The experience and feedback I’ve gotten from the people regarding summer jobs in the first year haven’t been very positive. Let’s start with discussing, what is a summer job – Most of the employees go on a six-week holiday between June – August every year. To keep this period productive and make use of the infrastructure, companies hire university students to do some tasks.
It is comparatively tough to get summer jobs if you are in your first year and especially if you don’t speak Swedish. If you want to go for it, you need to send in your applications during February – March. Earlier you start, higher are your chances. However, The companies prefer to have graduates who did their thesis with them to work as the summer employees.
Regarding the Internships. It’s a different case, if you are a programmer, there are plenty of companies ready to employ you as a summer intern or even as a part-time employee. But there is a small catch, very few of them are willing to financially compensate you for your work. My advice for you, in this case, would be – if you are a fresher, and you don’t have any experience before Master’s, then you can even go for the unpaid internships, as you will get to learn and will have something to mention on your CV as well. But if you have work experience, and the company is benefiting from your experience and work, don’t offer your services for free.
However, in the case of established companies, it is always paid, but not a lot of companies offer internships. If you’re in Stockholm, I know for sure that Ericsson has a summer internship program. There are a lot of labs and professors at KTH who would like to have summer interns working at KTH, keep an eye on that too.
If you are an International fee-paying student, living in a city like Stockholm with above average cost of living, finding a part-time job would be always on the back of your mind. Though finding a part-time job in Stockholm is not a cakewalk; you definitely need networking for finding a non-technical job (restaurants, cafe or bars). However, for technical jobs, you can approach potential employers directly, but even for those, networking is a big plus.
There could be two kinds of part-time jobs – The ones at school and the ones at companies. People, especially the ones coming from India often ask me about the possibilities of working as teaching assistants and research assistants (this question arises from the fact that a lot of the Indian students going to the US are working as TAs & RAs, so they have similar expectations from Sweden too).
So here’s the thing, KTH has all but one Bachelor’s programmes taught in Swedish, this means at least in the first year you can’t be a teaching assistant unless you speak Swedish. Another fact, KTH amounts for 1/3 of Sweden’s total research, that means lots of Ph.D. candidates and researchers, which also means that you don’t have chances of being a research assistant. However, during the second year, you have chances of being teaching assistants or lab assistants for the courses you took in the first year. A bunch of my friends and me as well worked part-time this way.
I talked to my friends about how they got their jobs, here’s what my friend Niroop had to say
During end of my first summer in Sweden, I got opportunity to work as Teaching assistant within my department. I had a persistant approach to couple of professors within my department seeking jobs. So I was noted in their list when such opportunities turn up. It started as Teaching assistant for one course and continued for three more courses over two study periods. I can happily say this helped me cover my monthly expenses. Now, I work with Telia Carrier as Engineer in Customer Support. It is very much related to what I study at KTH. I get to implement what I studied over couple of months and courses on live network established worldwide. I love my job. Before starting my masters, I had work experience in similar field which gave me an edge in landing up with the job. It is easier to land up with a job if you have good network in Stockholm. I received this job notification from my course co-ordinator and also from Academic Works. I applied and after couple of interviews, I was hired.
My Experience: I had a bad start for Summer Jobs/Internship search for sure, I applied to a lot of summer jobs last year, and got rejected from them. During May, I found out about the summer scholarship at ITRL (Integrated Transport Research Lab) at KTH. They usually advertise pretty late. It was a totally different setup, all the interested candidates had to come up with project proposals about what they want to do in the two-month period and then implement it in the period of two months (July – August) and demonstrate it at the end of August. By this time, I had a vague idea of what not to do, so instead of writing some arbitrary project proposal, I went and talked to the professors there and discussed the possibilities, I wrote a project proposal around the fields they were working with. My experience working there was pretty good and totally worth it. During those two months, I realized that I have a knack for working in the automotive field. Thereafter, I focused on the automotive industry for future plans.
Later, I worked as a part-time project developer at the same place for next four months after my internship. While I was working for my summer internship at ITRL I had expressed my willingness to work there. Later, when the professor, who is in charge of the lab, needed someone to develop hardware for an upcoming project course, asked me if I was willing to work on that. I gladly agreed.
Useful tips for applying for Summer Jobs & Internships
- Linkedin: This is probably the most important thing; keep your LinkedIn up-to-date, always! All your projects, extracurriculars, courses, work experience; everything should be there, and make sure that you have a short summary of yourself in the beginning.
Don’t upload your certificates or any needless PDFs.
- Personal Web page: Your CV cannot be more than 2 pages else it becomes repulsive, but there are times when you cannot furnish all your details in those two pages. Anyway, no one spends a lot of time on a CV, so it’s good to have a concise one. However, it’s good to have a personal web page with all the details. If you can spend money, buy a domain, and have a personal website. Otherwise, if you are studying at KTH, you always have an option of making a profile page. Just navigate to www.kth.se/profile/[yourusername], and make a detailed web page. You can have a look at mine here (this is not a standard, you can choose your own way of displaying things).
- Approaching Employers: The best starting point for this is actually the career fair(s). If you study at KTH, then there is Armada in November, where over 150 companies come every year to tell about their employment opportunities. Instead of spending both the days collecting free stuff, you can spend some time asking the company representatives about any summer job opportunities. Of course, none of the companies have summer jobs or internship positions open as early as November. But you can make a list of companies who offer these opportunities, and then start contacting them from late January.
- Personal Touch: In Sweden, the job application process is different than other parts of the world for sure, here the process takes place on a personal level. So if the job advertisement has contact details of a person listed on it, then it is advised to contact them and communicate your interest in applying for it before you send in your application.
- Network: Probably the most important thing, if you have a good network, and there is a word out that you are looking for internships or summer jobs, then if someone you know finds something, they will surely tell you. Recommendations work very well; if someone needs help for a short term, it’s highly likely that they would hire someone through the network. Go to networking events, meetups.com is a great way to find such groups, I have found some really helpful people this way, who helped me improve my CV and gave me tips about Swedish ways of approaching employers.
STHLM Tech meetup is one of the active meetups group with regular events. Stockholm Hardware Meetup is another one for tech enthusiasts.
- Be Flexible and ready to learn new things: On many occasions, you might not get a job which exactly matches your skills or current programme. Be flexible enough to learn new things and tools, nothing goes in vain. My personal policy is quite simple – if someone asks me to do something interesting that I don’t know, I’ll say yes and learn it.
- Learn to handle failures: I got 17 rejections before I got my internship, if you get disappointed with every rejection you get, it’s going to be really tough. So stay persistent and you’ll get through.
All the best!
Some job portals where you should be looking at for Internships and jobs:
- LinkedIn Jobs – Undoubtedly the first choice, that’s how I found my thesis.
- Angel List – Interested in working for startups? This portal is full of those opportunities.
- Graduate Land – Another good job portal, with jobs from all across Europe.
- The Local.se jobs portal – A portal for English language jobs in Sweden.
- Academic Work – One of the better job portals
- Arbetsformedlingen – The official job portal of Sweden
There are some more job portals which you can look at if you don’t find something interesting on the above portals.
- iAgora – More jobs and Internships
- Blocket jobs – Another good job portal
- Eures – European Job portal
- IAESTE – Good for finding internships all across Europe. (Technical)
- AIESEC – Good for finding internships all across Europe. (Business)
- Glassdoor jobs portal
Again, big thanks to Niroop, Dhiraj, and Sandipan who helped me with their inputs for this post.