Meet Iver, a business policy advisor in diversity, inclusion, and education at Bergen’s Chamber of Commerce. Iver not only has a Norwegian business insider’s perspective on how to become part of the job market in Bergen, but he also knows first-hand what it is like to be an international student, including its challenges and advantages.
The international student perspective
Although Iver has a Norwegian background and speaks Norwegian, he has a clear perspective of what it is like to be an international student. He was one! He attended an American high school in Mexico City before returning to Norway to study psychology at the university and graduate level. When he exited his studies, the jobs he had initially hoped for related to his psychology degree were not manifesting. His journey ended up including post-studies (up to a year of study after completing a degree), starting unfunded work on a PhD project with a great advisor, and ultimately finding an exciting opportunity with Bergen Chamber of Commerce.
The struggle to find the first job
In Mexico City, Iver had his plate full with full-time studies and didn't have time to get work experience. When he returned to Norway, Iver found himself with a similar disadvantage entering the Norwegian job market that many international students face. It is common for Norwegian teens to start working part-time at age 16 or 17 years. They therefore often have some job experience to cite on their CVs. This may be one reason that Iver initially had trouble getting interviews for positions he applied for using ‘standard’ channels, despite having a Norwegian background and language skills. His first lucky break was finding a job through a staffing agency. While he studied, he found most of his jobs by reaching out directly, often in person, and applying for work at psychiatric institutes, drug rehabilitation facilities as well as applying to positions as a substitute teacher, an academic research assistant, and more.
Creative job seeking
Iver believes that Norwegian businesses can do more to build their international competencies, including increasing their retention and recruitment of international students studying in Norway. However, until they improve their recruitment process for international talents, internatonal students should focus on getting guidance on how to pitch their skills and contribution to those kind of companies. Iver's advice on finding a first job is to be creative, rather than purely relying on applying for positions advertised on websites such as Finn.