How to get a job as an international student?
Have you thought about working in Norway after your studies? Benjamin Kuban, former BI student, tells us his experience to success.
Many international students want to work in Norway after their studies and this has been an increasing trend over the last years. At the same time, the demand for international experience in the Norwegian job market is increasing. At a quick glance, you might think that this creates easy access to the Norwegian job market. However, it is common that international students experience obstacles getting a job in Norway after their studies. One of the biggest obstacles they face is the language.
The majority of Norwegian employers require applicants to speak Norwegian fluently, reducing the number of job opportunities for those who do not master the language. Fortunately, as Norwegian companies become more globalized English as a working language is becoming more common. Still for now, international students will have to make an extra effort in order to get a job after their studies.
So, what else does international students have to keep in mind when going into the Norwegian job market? I asked Benjamin Kuban, from BI alumni, how he succeeded in the Norwegian job market. Benjamin is from the USA and graduated with a master’s degree in International Management from BI in 2012. When he started his master’s studies, he felt that he needed a solid strategy to get a job in Norway. His strategy was gaining working experience and learning Norwegian. Without good Norwegian language skills and network in the beginning of his studies, he felt it was important to have some working experience when going into the job market. Gaining working experience is also a good way to expand your social network. Although Norwegian employers’ emphasises talents over relationships more compared to the world at large, social networking is still important when it comes to hiring. The more people you know, the more likely it is you will get a job! When you come from another country, you may not know many people and therefore it is even more important to expand your social network. Just put yourself out there, get out of the comfort zone and talk to people.
Benjamin was working part time besides his studies, both as a student assistant at the MSc administration at BI and in the American Chamber of Commerce in Norway. Today, Ben has a great job at the Wilhelmsen Ships Service, where he works as a marketing consultant. He credits both his previous work experience and contacts through the network he built alongside his studies for landing his current job. His working environment is very international, where both his co-workers and the company’s customers are very diverse. Even though his working environment is international and English is the working language, Benjamin stresses that learning Norwegian is still very important. It will help you adjust to the society since many Norwegians prefer to speak their own language in social settings.
According to Benjamin’s past and present colleagues, the most important elements that the employer looks at in a job interview is organizational fit, right education level, level of international experience, motivation, self-drive, flexibility and positive attitude. Thus, it is important to have an interest and motivation to work for the company you are applying for; you have to be able to show that in an interview. Furthermore, even though international students may have a disadvantage for not speaking Norwegian, they have international experience, which many employers see as a big advantage.