Work during your studies
As an international student in Sweden, you are technically allowed to work alongside your studies. There’s no official limitation either on how many hours you can work. However, it’s crucial to remember that your studies should be your top priority: the Swedish education system is demanding. While you might not have many classroom hours, you will still be expected to spend the equivalent of a full-time, 40-hour work week on coursework, reading and assignments. This can make it difficult to combine studies with working in Sweden.
When you apply to extend your residence permit, the Swedish Migration Agency also demands proof that you have made progress in your studies and achieved acceptable grades. If your studies suffer because you work too much, you risk not being allowed to stay in Sweden any longer.
Some universities have careers services that can help you find a part-time student job. Many also offer services like employer fairs, CV checks and special events with companies. Websites like Academic Work, StudentConsulting or StudentJob can also be a good place to look for postings.
Work after your studies
Sweden is a great place to start your career: innovative, international companies are found throughout the country. Check Working in Sweden for more information on starting your career or setting up a business in Sweden.
After graduation, you can apply to extend your residence permit for up to 12 months to search for a job or start a company. If you receive a job offer that meets certain conditions, you can then apply for a work permit. For more information on requirements and how to apply for an extension or a work permit, visit the Swedish Migration Agency’s website.
10 tips for finding work in Sweden
If you’ve decided to stay in Sweden after your studies to look for work, here are 10 tips to help you find a job.
1. Visit your university’s career centre
The first stop in your search should be a visit to your university’s career centre. University career centres offer a range of services to help you find a job: career counselling (often in English), advice on your CV and cover letter, seminars and workshops, interview-technique training and study visits to potential employers. Career centres also typically provide listings for available jobs, internships and thesis projects.
2. Attend employment fairs
Swedish multinational companies like Volvo, IKEA or Skanska, large national banks, public sector employers and other companies regularly tour employment fairs to meet potential new employees. Employment fairs give you a chance to network with employers in your field and participate in one-on-one interviews and useful seminars. Major fairs include CHARM at Chalmers in Gothenburg, Handelsdagarna at the Stockholm School of Economics, eee-days at Lund University and Uniaden at Umeå University. There are also fairs that aren’t linked to universities, like Career Days in Stockholm.
Make sure you come prepared to these fairs: bring a stack of CVs and cover letters, decide in advance which companies you want to talk to, and have a strategy on how you’ll make a good impression. Send follow-up emails to the company representatives you spoke to – they could be a useful future contact.
3. Learn Swedish
Yes, nearly everyone in Sweden speaks English, and you’ll easily get through your studies here without knowing a word of Swedish. English may also be the working language at some larger companies (even Swedish ones).
But being proficient at Swedish will open up a lot of doors for you when you’re trying to find work. Many alumni say learning Swedish was their golden ticket into the job market. Speaking Swedish will almost always make you a stronger candidate – even when you’re applying for a job that specifically requires you to know fluent English or be a native English speaker. And don’t forget the social aspect: knowing Swedish will help you impress your new colleagues and bond with them more easily.
Most universities offer Swedish courses for international students. Take advantage of the opportunity – you won’t regret it! See Learn Swedish for more information on how to learn Swedish.
4. Take an internship
Internships can be a great way to gain experience and build your professional network. Even if your internship doesn’t lead to a job offer, you’ll have a reference from a Swedish company and a nice update for your CV. Try investigating options through international student organisations such as AIESEC and IAESTE. Or why not try your luck and directly contact a company you’d like to do an internship at?
5. Get a part-time student job
Working part-time during your studies can serve as a springboard for your career. Competition for part-time jobs can be fierce, especially if you don’t speak Swedish. But being proactive and knocking on doors armed with a stack of CVs – preferably in Swedish – can get you a long way. A useful resource is Academicwork.se, which introduces students to companies looking for part-time staff.
6. Get involved in your student union
Contacts in your personal network can offer valuable tips or introduce you to potential employers. Expand your network by getting involved in activities and organisations at your university. An obvious place to start is your student union. Involvement in a student union and the wide range of activities they organise can in itself lead to work opportunities – and your participation will be a strong merit on your CV.
7. Write your thesis at a Swedish company
Writing your final thesis at a Swedish company can be the perfect entrance to the job market. You get valuable experience, insights and contacts, and a foot in the door at a Swedish employer. Many university programmes and departments have strong links with companies, and thesis project proposals from companies are often published on university websites.
8. Join a union
Labour unions have a strong position in Sweden. Joining one as a student can be a stepping stone into the industry you want to work in. Many labour unions have special offers for students, including services like career guidance or CV assistance. They also offer advice on salary negotiations, and once you’ve found a job, they can support you in workplace matters.
Sweden’s main trade union confederations are SACO, TCO and LO. Each are made up of a larger number of individual unions, representing most professions in Sweden. Visit their websites to find the right union for your field.
9. Contact employers directly
When you look at Swedish job ads, you may notice they include contact details for an employee or manager who can answer questions about the role. That person is often involved in deciding who gets the position, so it can be worth your while to call them, ask a few relevant questions and engage them in conversation. If you make a professional and enthusiastic impression, they may remember your name when your application lands on their desk.
10. Start early
Your fellow new graduates are just as eager as you are to land their first job after university, so start your job hunt early on. And don’t forget to apply for your work permit in good time. Read more about working or starting a business in Sweden on the Working in Sweden website.