Living and working in Sweden

How does the work-life look like from international person's perspective in Sweden? Let us share some insights from our first months at ABB Sweden.

Last year, in September, we kick started our professional life at ABB Sweden as the two internationals in the Graduate Trainee program. We both studied at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, so we already had some great experience as international students in Sweden. However, how does the work-life look like from international person’s perspective in Sweden? Let us share some insights from our first months at ABB Sweden.

Being in Sweden for more than a year and receiving a permanent contract is just like winning a golden ticket. It means that one is eligible to apply for a personal identity number, and having one is a great advantage in Sweden. Going to Skatteverket (or Migrationsverket if you are Swiss) to apply for the personal identity number should be a top priority on the to-do list once you’ve arrived in Sweden. It opens the door to healthcare, bank accounts, Swish (a mobile payment system in Sweden), and allows you to do almost all the administrative matters online. Isn’t it great?

Settling into Swedish work-life has been fairly easy, the language is absolutely no problem. From the very first day, it has been clearly stated that the trainee group’s main language is English, so that everyone understands, can contribute, and join the chitchat over coffee. That’s a great example of the inclusive culture that Sweden is famous for. Nevertheless, it is nice to learn Swedish, as it is helpful in some work-related areas such as production, and as well helps with experiencing more of Swedish culture. The trainee program offers us an allowance for language training, so why not give it a try.  It might take us a while until we can have a Swedish conversation beyond the greeting phrases; however, we will master «Swenglish» in no time.

Business life in Sweden is somewhat casual. I was used to writing formal emails and use greetings such as “Dear <Title> + <Last Name>”. Emails in Sweden mostly start with a “Hi <Name>”. This is still a little new to me, so I try to send all my emails in the morning and start them with a “Good morning”, which is a middle way that feels more comfortable to me. But not only emails but also the dress code is less formal. The Swedish business attire is casual, and you will often see some trendy sneakers instead of suit shoes or high heels.

You might already know Fika, the Swedish coffee break that is essentially more about socializing than the coffee itself. It is a core instrument to get to know people in different positions, get to know both their professional and private life, and it simply helps with reducing the stress at work. I am very fond of Fika!

Even though not every Fika entails humongous Kanelbullar, and they are virtually these days, it is a great way to have a pause and get to know your colleagues.

One of the things that might keep you from relocating to Sweden and applying for the Trainee Program might be the thought of the long, cold and remarkably dark winters up here. However, there are multiple tips and tricks on how to survive the winter. This time around I started to take Vitamin D preventatively in summer, even before coming back to Sweden. And after the turn of the new year, you can look forward to amazing spring days here in Sweden.

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Flurina Heuberger

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