Make sure you’re prepared in advance if moving to Sweden for research, says Barry O’Brien.
Why did you move to Sweden?
I met a beautiful Swedish girl who dragged me to Stockholm with promises of clean air and open spaces. She forgot to mention the high taxes and expensive beer!
How do you help scientists in Sweden?
PhD Career Link was created to supply fresh ideas for job seekers looking to move from academia to industry. I am helping career centres to deliver interesting courses, workshops and events around the concept of personal branding – first impressions matter! I use LinkedIn, Facebook, Meetup and traditional tools like the good old CV, to improve applicant’s chances of both being found by, and finding recruiters.
What support is there for researchers based in Sweden?
Career support whilst researching comes from the University Career Centres and Unions, but unfortunately not every University has the resources to assist them.
In Sweden a PhD is a paid position, so now there are regulation changes happening that will mean that someone doing a PhD is considered employed and should fall under the ‘state employment’ rules – this means that they are not the responsibility of the University. Many student groups organise their own career events, inviting alumni, coaches and industry speakers.
Research money can be hard to achieve if you are a new, small group. Established, experienced group leaders can often achieve good grants through their networks and Sweden is known for generous research funding through organisations such as Almi and several funding agencies such as Vetenskapsrådet and Cancerfonden.
Is that same support available for foreign researchers?
Yes career support is available to everyone but many international students, from undergrad upwards, do not feel that there is enough information in English.
Research grant support is also available – If you have a group here in Sweden, you can apply for it. My colleague had a professor from overseas that applied for Swedish funds before coming to Sweden to start up the group.
You can also, as a foreign researcher that has been living and working in Sweden, apply for Swedish grants and then take them away, to do your studies in other countries.
This a great resource about all funding opportunities in Sweden, both public and private
What are some of the challenges foreign researchers face when they come to Sweden for work?
Many of my clients who come from outside of Sweden say that the bureaucracy is frustrating. It can be hard to secure suitable visas from the Migration Board, gain a personal (ID) number, plus there are big issues with a limited availability of housing.
For example, an issue with the Migration Board is that the PhD does not have a long term contract of employment, so if they are from outside of the EU they have to apply for a new Visa every 6 months, in some circumstances.
Housing is also an issue due to Swedish regulations on sub-letting apartments – some cannot be rented for more than 1 year.
A great source of finding apartments and connecting with people is via www.thelocal.se – Sweden’s news in English.
How would you describe the current atmosphere of science careers in Sweden?
There are a lot of people working on their PhDs, it is a paid position here, but as in most countries there are very few academic research jobs for PhDs.
The Bio-Tech start up scene appears to be growing and is a sector that is recruiting. Many larger companies are closing their research facilities but there are new projects like the Medicon Life Science Village in Lund, Southern Sweden, which has nearly 30 product-based companies and 50 service companies including patenting and legal advisors.
I think there is a new era in research, but the challenge is always to commercialise this research somehow.
What advice do you give to scientists who want to come and work in Sweden?
Sweden is a great country to live in but try to be as prepared as possible before moving here. Before you move, build your network by getting in contact with people who are already here, and try to learn the language – it makes it so much easier to communicate with local people and to speed up bureaucracy.