"Therefore, I would like to give a word of advice to organisations, and HR managers. Give everyone equal chances and opportunities in the hiring process. We (foreigners/internationals) have a lot more to contribute to Sweden than we are currently doing. All we need is someone to give us a chance and believe in us."
Hello, my name is Adeniyi Femi, and this is my story. November 2016, my life changed without any plans or preparations for a new life. In my quest to learn more about sustainability, I travelled to Sweden from Nigeria to attend the 2016 Sustainable City Development Conference in Malmo. I remember feeling like a little child on Christmas day when I first landed in Stockholm.
I was wowed by the beauty of Stockholm, but then I quickly continued my journey with the SJ train to Malmo which was my final destination. Several days into the conference, it become clear that I would be unable to return home due to several reasons beyond my control. Sweden would become my new home for the next years without knowing anyone, the language, food, etc.
However, just like many asylum seekers, refugees, and internationals, I was determined to embrace this new challenge with hopes and aspirations. How naive I was thinking getting Swedish documents would be a walk in the park. Those periods of searching for information and applying for my residence was some of the darkest years of my life. I suffered from anxiety and depression in the two and half years it took me to get my Swedish documents. Worth mentioning that finding information in Sweden is like asking for snow in summer. Before getting my documents, I was determined to settle in as quickly as I could, so I started learning the language(many thanks to Eos language café), learning about Swedish culture, and values. There was no way I would live in Sweden and act like a foreigner.
Fast forward after acquiring my Swedish documents, my determination to succeed in Sweden led me to apply for master’s programmes because before coming to Sweden, I already had a BSc in Accounting and some years of working experience. I got admitted to Malmo university to study International Migration and Ethnic Relations. Perfect programme for me because of my experience of migrating to Sweden, right?
In the summer of 2021, I graduated with a master’s degree, and in the process, also completed two internships with Eos Cares and Save the children. Finally, I felt that after developing myself for 5 years, I had done all that was required of me to set my foot into the Swedish labour market because I had acquired Swedish education, I spoke and understood the Swedish language at close to advanced level, I had learnt about Swedish values, work culture and the society in general………... little did I know I was just getting started.
Entering the Swedish labour market as a foreigner/international is so difficult because of several factors such as lack of Swedish language and Swedish education, and particularly some organisations are not accustomed to working with diversity and inclusion. Thus, it takes a lot of patience, perseverance, a never say die attitude, continuous development, hard work and a little luck on your part. A common phrase you hear in Sweden when trying to enter the labour market is “networking”, partake in mentorship programmes like Mitt Liv Chans, use LinkedIn and a host of other advice. I strongly believe that involving oneself in all of these activities will eventually get one to within a touching distance of the Swedish labour market. However, it is worth mentioning that Sweden in all of its amazingness, continues to leave bad tastes in the mouth of thousands of internationals due to the difficulties in accessing its labour market. Therefore, I would like to give a word of advice to organisations, and HR managers. Give everyone equal chances and opportunities in the hiring process. We (foreigners/internationals) have a lot more to contribute to Sweden than we are currently doing. All we need is someone to give us a chance and believe in us.
I plan to continue applying for jobs, believing that sooner or later, I will succeed in landing my dream job either in the public or private sector. Luckily, I have education and experience in both non-governmental organisations as well as in the business sector. Thus, I am open to roles such as Business controller, Project/programme assistant, Business development Coordinator, etc. That said, I am also continuing to develop my skills as I am currently completing a google Project Management Certification Programme.
In all you do, continue to believe, smile, and stay positive. Always be prepared because you never know when that one opportunity you are looking for comes knocking on your door.
/ Adeniyi Femi