How did I get my first job in Sweden?


Unforgettable Mails from the Past

Most people have different folders in their mailbox where they keep all types of important mails from the past. Some could be work-related, some could be from special people in their lives and so on. But what they have in common is that all of them have a story to tell..

The following short e-mail message that I got almost 4,5 years ago is one of those important mails for me since it taught me a lot of lessons about friendship, business, perseverance and a little bit of selling during the journey.

KTH Sun Campus Ambassadors Mail
The mail I got regarding my first recruitment in Sweden.

  This short mail was basically saying that BOTH my friend Alper Celik and I got the job that we applied for ALTHOUGH they were only looking for ONE person. Now let’s have a flashback and see how it all began while I note some references regarding the lessons I learned that will be explained more in detail at the end of this post.

October 2007, KTH Main Campus – Stockholm / Sweden

The conference room is full of bright people from all around the world. Everybody is waiting for the speaker to start talking about the “Entrepreneurship in Developing World”. It has been only 3 weeks since my arrival in Sweden and I’m already amazed by the wide variety of opportunities to learn and improve yourself. The first half of the seminar is finished. People are rushing to the hall to have a short coffee break. I’m heading out together with Alper (A) and we start talking:

A: I think it’s time to get a part-time job. I don’t want to get any money from my family, we are not kids anymore.

Me: You’re right! We should continue looking for something after we fix this housing issue.

Right before we go back to the conference room, the small announcement on the notification board catches my eye [Lesson 1]:

“Sun Microsystems is Looking for a Sun Campus Ambassador for KTH”

Wov! I say to myself, this is exactly what we are looking for! Hey, but there’s a problem since apparently the company is looking for only one person that’d be the kind of the “Campus Ambassador” for KTH. This means that this person would organize tech events for the students and be the spokesperson of the company at the campus on many different levels.

Naturally, I show it to Alper as well and we agree that we should both apply for it although they look for only one person [Lesson 2]. The same evening when we are home, we wrote a cover letter together with our CVs and sent it to the e-mail address that was on this ad.

+46 Number is calling for an Important Call

A couple of weeks have already passed and neither of us got any feedback regarding our application. Since there was only an e-mail address regarding the job ad, there’s nothing much we could do other than waiting.

While working on a homework for a class project at home, my phone started to ring as if it was crying to get answered. The number was not a familiar one to me so I answered the phone with a little bit of curiosity. The voice on the other side of the phone was saying that I am one of the people shortlisted for the Campus Ambassador position and asking if I’d be available for an interview in an HOUR.

My answer was a big YES!

After hanging up the phone, I explained about this phone call to Alper with mixed feelings since I was short listed but we didn’t hear anything regarding his application so far. But WAIT, while thinking about what to wear in this interview, his phone started to ring as well!

+46 Number is calling for an Important Call Again

A:  Allright! Of course I can be at your office for an interview in TWO HOURs!

Haydaaa (as we say in Turkish), now he’s in the shortlist as well and we’re really happy! It’s been only a month in Sweden and we’re going to an interview for a part-time job that won’t affect our studies and could be a great reference for future. Too good to be true!

Sun Microsystems Office, Akalla/Stockholm –  October 2007

I’m talking to my future boss Kent over a coffee at his office. First question is always easy and I did my homework and said “NO, I didn’t have any problems finding the way to your office” hoping that he’d think how smart I’m to be able to find my way here 🙂  Isn’t that always the first question?

Then we start talking about my background, weaknesses, future plans and everything regarding the job. Right before we conclude, I ask him about the possibility of recruiting more than one person as I personally wouldn’t get as happy if only I’d get the job. He appreciates this statement and tells me that he will see what he can do. [Lesson 3]

While Alper is about to arrive at the office for his interview, we only had time to have a short chat on the phone and I didn’t even have time to tell him about what I told to Kent regarding recruiting only myself.

Student Houses , Alleväg/Kista – The same evening

Alper is back from his interview now and it’s time to talk about what eventually happened. Apparently, Kent asked about his thoughts as well if only he’d be recruited and Alper told him the same thing as me without even knowing about my conversation. [Lesson 4]

So the next day, we got an e-mail from Kent saying that they’ll recruit either one of us unless we can provide them some REALLY good reasons to recruit both of us. So we told him that we will prepare a report where we’ll explain why they should recruit both of us.

Three Pages Away From Getting Our First Job

The same night, we sat in front of the monitor for hours figuring how to position ourselves and the value of recruiting both of us together. The plan was to focus on the importance of our university and what difference two people could make.

Around 2 am. same night, we were finished with a 3 pages report that had all types of different arguments backed up by same nice graphics 🙂

The graphic above is one of the diagrams from this report where we try to convince our employer regarding the distances between different campuses and there’s a need for at least to people to cover all the students 🙂 Of course we don’t forget to have some scientific facts and references as well.

Now it’s funny to read this report after about 4,5 years but it was an important document for us at that time. You can read the rest of the report that gave us the job in PDF. It’s no rocket science but right to the point in a way. [Lesson 5]

And The Job Goes Toooooooo

So as you can already guess, after a couple of weeks, we got the e-mail that I showed at the beginning of my post that led us to our first job in Sweden which continued for two years during our master studies at KTH.

I feel privileged to enjoy many great moments at this job as we got the “Best Student Club” in Europe many times in row together with the “Best Campus Ambassadors in Europe” Award from the Sun Microsystems.

We both had the honour to present our way of working, tips and tricks in a number of different European cities to other colleagues. Once we even participated at a conference in Berlin where Sun invited tens of CEOs from all around the Europe and we were at the stage together with the Vice Precident of Sun Microsystems, giving a speech to the CEOs about the student activities.

So keeping long story short, that short job ad and our perseverance opened a lot of doors to us which has been a great life experience…

The Lessons I Learned During This Journey

[Lesson 1] : Luck is when preparation meets the opportunity. A pregnant woman would recognize all the other pregnant women on the street. It doesn’t mean that we are 9 months after Midsummer in Sweden (you know what I mean 😉 ), it just means the opportunities will be visible to you only if you are prepared to see them!

[Lesson 2] : Nothing is written on the stone and if there’s a will, there’s a way! Without doing something, you can’t know if your thoughts are applicable or not. Sometimes we just give up easily because we think that we will have some obstacles on the way. But what if these obstacles are caused by misleading information or even prejudgements? I say, just do it and it’ll be done.

[Lesson 3] : Closed mouths don’t get fed. Don’t hesitate to speak up your mind if you think that there’s a possibility to improve the current situation. Of course there’s a thin line between being “rude” and “showing your willingness to win-win”. One of good friends puts it greatly by using the explanation “soft aggressive”, and I guess that’s who I’m.

[Lesson 4]: People in your life who are valuable for you are more important than money and career. I would genuinely feel bad if only I’d get the job and know that Alper would feel the same. Hopefully, we didn’t have to go through that.

[Lesson 5]: Keeping stuff simple and stupid is the best way to go when you are writing. Think about your objectives and list down all the relative arguments presented in a simply understandable manner. I try to follow the same principles while writing proposals to our customers in my current job.

[Lesson 5] and the most important is NEVER GIVE UP!


I know many people I know are about to finish their studies and are looking for a job or a thesis opportunity. I hope I was able to inspire them at least a little bit and convey some of the lessons that I learned during my first employment here in Sweden. Please take this post as it is and DO TRY AT HOME!

Please don’t hesitate to comment and tell me about your story! I’d be more than happy to hear.



5 Responses to “How did I get my first job in Sweden?”

  1. 1 molgun

    It’s an amazing experience and inspired me a lot 🙂

  2. 3 Ertuğ

    That’s just great story, very nice post and inspiring, thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 mat

    Thanks for sharing such inspiring experience.
    I have been into few interview but didn’t get the job. Any advice would be much appreciated?

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