"All in all, I think Sweden is a country that is really trying to helps immigrants integrate into society. There are organizations such as "Jobbsprånget" that help non-EU immigrants enter the Swedish job market or the International Citizen Hub Lund that organizes Kick-Start Program regularly. We are surrounded by so many resources and opportunities and we need to really leverage them."
On the 15th of March 2019, I was admitted to a two- year master program at Lund university for a new chapter in my life. During my two years of studying in Sweden, I fell in love with the country. In particular, I admire the peacefulness of the culture; there is a “lagom” way to life here especially in contrast to my own country. In China, it is not uncommon for children to be working on their homework till 21 at night and despite ever increasing salaries that would be competitive in some of the busiest cities in the US and Europe, there is a lack of balance necessary for a health life. After finishing my studies, I decided I would try to stay in Sweden and it became necessary for me to find a job.
While I was still studying, I heard from other students about the importance of learning Swedish for getting a job. In the beginning, I tried the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) course and Duolingo but I found both were not enough for proper communication. I started all the “right things” after I finished my defense in June. I borrowed the Swedish textbook "Rivstart" to learn by myself. The effect of using Rivstart is amazing! After three months of continuous study, I’ve completed 3/4 of the book and can conduct the basic conversation. I also found a part-time job in a restaurant so that I can earn some money and practice my Swedish.
As for finding a job, as everyone says, it's very hard, especially if you don’t speak Swedish. It feels like a Chinese express that throwing a stone and seeing it sink into the sea. Looking back, I believe I started late. I didn’t start actively looking for a job till I submitted my thesis. Besides, I found out that in only about 30% of the jobs advertised in English, a fair number of those applications still require knowledge of Swedish language. By that time, it was June and Swedish companies were beginning to go on vacation for the summer and graduate and trainee programs have already closed their applications half a year ago. I did not get many responses during the summer. In fact, I didn’t get anything back until a month after June. By that time, I had sent over 50 applications. The first real offer I received was an unpaid internship at a start-up, which I took as I had no other choices. Meanwhile, I continued to polish my CV and cover letters. Currently, I have sent out over 150 applications and I have received 10 interviews and one more internship offer at Uniliver Sverige via jobbsprånget.
If I were to summarize both my personal job hunting experience as well as my fellow international friends and classmates, it would be that every successful case is unique and hard to copy. But one thing is sure, which is one must keep trying! I know people who were able to get their first job smoothly with little work experience; I also know people who are continuing to struggle to find a job despite previously holding more senior positions from their respective countries. Luck and circumstance play a very important role in getting that job. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye open for opportunities and to keep sending out applications and reflecting ohow to make your CV and cover letters more attractive.
All in all, I think Sweden is a country that is really trying to helps immigrants integrate into society. There are organizations such as "Jobbsprånget" that help non-EU immigrants enter the Swedish job market or the International Citizen Hub Lund that organizes Kick-Start Program regularly. We are surrounded by so many resources and opportunities and we need to really leverage them.
My journey is still going on, it’s very tough but I believe when I look back in the future, it will all be worth it.
/ Pinxi Chen