From the time I started my studies at HiMolde to now, I have applied for over 700 jobs with over 20 interviews. In the beginning it was a painful process, but I’m getting better at it.
By ZELDA NYANGARI (text & photo)
The struggle of securing employment as an international student in Norway is real! The job search process can be daunting. Rejection is hard to welcome, especially if you’re a person who finds it naturally hard to take no for an answer.
A «no» for me is like adding fuel to my fire.
The reason why most international students seek employment, specifically part-time work, is because, well – from my experience, coming to study in Europe in Norway is expensive. Most students use their savings, and therefore part-time employment will assist with daily living expenses.
Some students have their parents sell their livestock (no joke), some take student loans, some borrow from family and relatives, and some have their partners supporting them. Which ever the case may be, it is every student dream to get a part-time job when studying abroad and to gain some industrial experience during studies, and to get a job after studies or start a business.
But this is not how things unfold in the real world. Language is biggest barrier for international students, followed by work permit requirements and years of work experience.
Here are some tips based on how I managed to get a summer internship with a Norwegian company last year!
Build a strong profile on LinkedIn and other job search websites
Sign up for LinkedIn, Finn, Jobzone etcetera and read the local newspaper. Have a professional profile picture portraying confidence with a smile. Grow your network, send invites to people in your field and attach a personalized message to the invite.
Complete all the sections on your profile that is about personal information, work experience, education, skills, certificates and references. Prepare a brief CV coupled with a motivation letter explaining in detail how you could add value to the company.
This requires you to do a background search of the company before you write the cover letter and make sure each cover letter is tailored to meet the needs of that company.
Do not feel shy or embarrassed
If you don’t ask, they will never tell. Send messages asking about a topic, how to improve yourself, internship or graduate positions and the requirements the company is specifically looking for in a potential employee. Ask to discuss this over coffee, a call or by sending your resume. Approach companies in person and use emails.
Be up to date with what is happening around you, attend career fairs at the university, in the city center and areas around. Volunteer to help with some research work, a program or a day activity.
It is also helpful to be a member of a student committee such as ESN, ECONA, iStudent, Smuget and others. Attend conferences, research workshops, dinners and lunch parties with people from different companies.
Confidence is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Have faith in yourself, know what you bring to the table and be willing to learn and grow. Continuously work on creating the best version of yourself, and do not feel discouraged. You’re winning your own race, it’s not a competition.
Prepare, prepare and prepare; from the CV, cover letter, video CV and to the actual interview.
You want to sound like you know what you’re talking about and that you’re knowledgeable about the company’s business operations and latest news. Carefully read the job description, goals and values of the company and use the information to answer the interview questions.
If it’s a face to face interview, dress the way you want to be addressed, do not panic, understand the questions and ask for clarity to give a detailed and structured answer. If you do not know, it’s better to say it is a topic you find interesting and would like to explore, or mention something you know that is related to the topic.
NEVER say «I don’t know». What I have concluded to be a commonality in most if not all companies’ values, are the importance of collaborations. Companies value a person with the ability to perform well in a team set-up.
The law of averages
This has taught me how to be successful in anything I do.
“The more you shoot, the better chances you have of winning the game.” – Sandi Kohler.
It’s simple. The more you apply, the more chances you have. I recommend 10 jobs a day. And remember that “the sky is not the limit, the mind is” and “courage is not the absence of fear about the future,. but the capacity to act despite our fears”.
May the force be with you.
–> Zelda Nyangari is a master’s student in logistics at Molde University College.