Finding a job as an exchange student: – It can be challenging
For many exchange students who are strangers to Norwegian culture, language and employment policy, it can be a demanding task to get a job in Bergen.
- Write the keyword «english» in the websites search column in order to directly view hiring that agrees with international people.
- Apply both on websites and take direct contact with employers. It’s necessary to get around, see faces, ask questions, and talk Norwegian if you are able to.
- Ask Norwegians about the culture and hiring process in Norway : how to behave, what to expect in an interview. It can be very different from country to country. In Norway, we are very focused on knowing yourself and who you are as a person. You need to talk about the things you are able to do but also the things you are not.
Compared to its neighbors, Norway is an expensive country. The high quality of life is probably one of the reasons which made you study in Bergen.
Some students can fully enjoy their experience abroad thanks to a good grant, some savings, and help from mum and dad. But for many others, it is necessary to find a part-time job in order to increase their budget and support themselves.
Unfortunately, the job searching process often appears more complicated than expected.
– It’s true that it can be challenging for students, says Silje Lokøen.
Silje Lokøen has been a Career counselor for thirteen years, and has worked for Sammen Career since May 2021.
The Career center is a counseling service offered by Sammen for all students. In their office in the Student Center, professional counsellors are available to receive students in need. They guide them, provide them with advice on course choices but also information about job searching.
Since many international students come each week to Lokøen for advice, she admits that it can be difficult for them to get a job in Norway.
Language is the first barrier
– Usually the main problem is language. Students are often blocked with their communication skills, the counsellor says.
Indeed, most exchange students use English in order to communicate since they do not speak fluent Norwegian. In everyday life, English is more than enough. But, getting into the world of work without knowing the country’s language is another matter.
Titouan Masson is an exchange student who comes from France and studies in Bergen for two semesters. He recently got hired as a receptionist at Bergen Klatre Senter, a bouldering gym. However, he agrees.
– My main fear was that the employer would not accept my application because I can’t speak fluent Norwegian. It was an obstacle. But even if I knew it, I still had to try.
Indeed, instead of staying blocked behind this language barrier, Lokøen thinks that the students should turn this difficulty into an asset.
– Students should tell the employer that they would like to speak Norwegian and to use their work to improve their language level. They need to show that the job could highly contribute to their learning, she advices.
The counsellor also adds that if they show enough motivation, the employers themselves could be very glad to contribute to the learning of a foreign student.
Titouan agrees on this point:
– I can’t do anything more than showing I am trying to learn as fast as possible. I personally see the job as a good opportunity to learn Norwegian. The director who interviewed me was aware of that and looked really unstressed about my Norwegian level.
Feeling lost in administrative procedures
Another difficulty for internationals is getting through the administrative process. Bank account, Norwegian ID, work permit. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Even if Lokøen agrees that it may be scary, she says it is not that complicated.
– It is a short process. It is just knowing about the procedure.
Here are Sammen Career’s four steps to follow in order :
- The student needs to get a Norwegian ID-Number – or a D-number if he stays less than six months. For that he has to book an appointment with his local tax office.
- The student has to open a bank account in Norway.
- The student should then apply for jobs, both online and in person.
- Once he receives a job offer, he should apply for a tax card from the Norwegian tax administration.
The best jobs to apply for
Some specific fields of the labour market are open to internationals since they do not require any Norwegian skills.
– A good way to start for students is to apply to all types of service jobs: hotels, cafés, restaurants, food delivery etc. Because the customers are used to that and are okay with switching to English, says Lokøen.
Other sectors offer employment such as cleaning agencies, souvenir shops, tourism, warehouses or also babysitting.
For Titouan, it is also worth trying to ask to lesser-known companies to increase chances, since they are less asked than random bars or cafés for example.
- Read also : How to get the most out of your exchange in Bergen
- Read also : Norwegian Books to Read This Winter