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What happens after KTH? Coffee with graduates. Part 2

Hey there! This post continues my previous one about graduates and their stories about landing a job! I will share stories of my friends who got their jobs in Stockholm, and they love it here!

The story of Leon

sweden boat trip Leon exploring
Leon exploring archipelago

To start with, Leon and I lived in the same building last year, and we used to go hiking around Stockholm! Leon is from Germany. Today, he is working in one of the biggest companies in Sweden! So, Leon arrived at KTH with the Erasmus programme for 1 year! During his final semester of exchange studies here, he was enrolled in Transport and Geoinformation Technology master’s degree courses at KTH. One of the courses, “A GIS Project”, cooperated with “Sweco”- one of the biggest companies in Sweden! “That’s how I first got to know them and vice versa.”- said Leon.

After the course, he stayed in contact, and once he graduated, he applied for a job there! Leon went through the normal application process – via their website. He had a total of three interviews – all online and all of them when he was already back home in Germany. “Sweco wanted me, I decided to take the offer, and a month later, I found myself back in Stockholm working as a GIS/Geodata Consultant for Sweco’s Digital Services Division”. And I haven’t regretted it since!”- Leon

The story of Aniss

lapland student phd
Aniss in Lapland!

“My name is Aniss, and I am a PhD student in Machine Learning at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. I did my master’s degree project at the Robotics Perception and Learning Division of KTH in Machine Learning and Topological Data Analysis. It went great, and I really enjoyed doing the research! My main supervisor of the master’s degree project, a postdoc at that time, recommended me to the professor head of the group, now my main supervisor for the PhD! But it was not at all that straightforward! Let me tell you why.

I knew for many years that I wanted to do a PhD, mostly because I wanted to have a job closely related to science and innovation, to do research or Research & Development! So, yes, I was very motivated to do a PhD because I still want to learn, acquire further knowledge, contribute to creating knowledge, and “dig deeper” into a topic. On one side, I strive to get a better general overview of a field; on the other, I choose a particular topic and become a specialist in that particular topic, do science and invent!

After my master’s degree project, I knew I wanted to do a PhD, but it was not clear a PhD in what exactly and where. I wanted to continue in mathematics and computer science. Still, I was also very interested in the medical field, so initially, I was unsure if I should stay in this group focused on robotics and machine learning. The professor was very understanding and offered me the opportunity to work as a research engineer so that I have more time to decide and we could see if I fit in her research group. I told her about my interest in the medical field, and she agreed to collaborate with medical researchers at the end of my PhD. As she said, the idea is first to build tools in machine learning, and then I can apply them. Moreover, during my research engineering position, I was involved in a Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) project, and the professor told me that I could still work on that during my PhD! Although working on BCI might not be medical, the skills and knowledge developed there can still be easily related to the medical field later, for example, via neurorehabilitation. In summary, I could use mathematics and computer science to develop new methods in machine learning, and the door to medical applications was opened! These were significant factors for me to want to stay in this group for the PhD!

Before making my decision, I wanted to be sure about a few things: I discussed with some people from the medical field, such as one of my previous internship supervisors, an Engineer and a Medical Doctor. He confirmed that he also thinks that it is better to do a PhD in a technical topic, like machine learning for me, to really understand the topic and then apply it to the medical field, rather than doing a PhD in medical engineering, where you would use machine learning without a deep understanding of it.

There was also another very important factor: the other PhD students. I enjoyed working with them, exchanging ideas, and having in-depth discussions about our topics during my master’s degree project and research engineering position. They are very friendly, skilled and all intelligent! So it was great knowing I could work in such a pleasant environment and discuss science daily with my pairs. In addition, I am being supervised by the professor, ex-postdocs and more senior PhDs! So all the conditions were met to be really motivated to do my PhD in this group!

So then, I officially applied on the KTH website around September 2021, and after the selection process, I was accepted and started my PhD in mid-February 2022.

sunset kth buildings
Sunset from Aniss’s workspace!

If you ask me: why Stockholm? First, there is a massive difference in salary between doing a PhD in Nordic countries or Germany, Netherlands, or Switzerland… versus doing a PhD in other parts of Europe like France, Italy, Spain, or Portugal. I felt like we are more respected as doctoral researchers here, and this difference in salary is, I think, one of the main reasons why you find many PhD students here from these countries. If you rely on your PhD salary, it is much more comfortable to do an academic PhD in Stockholm than in Paris, for example… In Sweden, you are better paid and considered an employee of the University, but also as a student, so you have student discounts and can live in student housing which is not that expensive.

Regarding Stockholm in particular, I think it is an amazing city. You don’t really feel that you are in a capital city since there are many green spaces, and the quality of life is very high. Also, there is an amazing international environment of researchers worldwide, mainly where I work at KTH!

Finally, I think in Stockholm, the startup ecosystem is excellent: you can access several incubators depending on your university, so this is also something to keep in mind for someone interested in entrepreneurship! In particular, KTH Innovation is doing a great job here!

For those interested in doing a PhD, my advice would be: to make sure that you are interested in the topic, that you fit in the lab, and that you know what to expect since a PhD is very interesting, but it is also a lot of work.

Lastly, getting accepted for a PhD is less complicated if you have already worked with the research group, so they would already know how you work! A good idea can be to do your master’s degree project in a lab where you would like to do your PhD!”

I hope their stories will inspire you and help you make the right decisions when choosing where to study! If you are interested in PhD at KTH, you could read about it in this post! Also, check this post to see why you should choose KTH for your doctoral education!

Have a nice week!