Tayeb Al Muhammad, another refugee from Syria, also learned a lot on his journey to Stockholm after finishing university in Damascus in 2013.
“My last semester was really tough. My university was near the front lines and it was really hard to focus,” he recalls. “I was also facing the possibility of military service so I started looking for alternatives. I knew I had to leave.”
Tayeb eventually applied for asylum in Sweden, eventually ending up in Stockholm looking for his next opportunity.
“A friend of my uncle ran an air conditioning firm in Bromma, and I was able to get some part-time secretarial and accounting work there,” he explains.
While not exactly a dream job, it was a start – and an important one.
“Having a part-time job was critical. It relieved my financial stress and helped me avoid sitting in a refugee camp with nothing to do,” he says.
Before long, he also entered “Korta Vägen”, through which he was put in touch with Incluso, a firm that matches foreign graduates with Swedish employers. In no time Incluso had matched Tayeb with an internship with Philip Morris in Stockholm.
“They were looking for someone with Excel skills. And after three months as an intern, I was hired into their trainee programme,” Tayeb says.
And things are going well, as Tayeb recently received Philip Morris’s “above and beyond” reward in recognition for a new database tool he created to aid the sales team.
Tayeb considers himself lucky, admitting that his transition to life in Stockholm was easier than he expected, thanks in part to his family connection and the fact that he found a job where English proficiency was sufficient.
He adds that having the right attitude is also important to succeeding in the Swedish capital.
“You have to avoid the negative vibes and never give up. You have to be stubborn – not simply motivated – but stubborn,” he says.
While internships are one path to full-time employment, IT entrepreneur Hamed Khoramyar, a refugee from Iran who has lived in the Swedish capital since 2010, had a different plan.
Rather than look for work with an established Stockholm tech firm, Hamed started his own IT services firm, something he said was “much easier” to do in Stockholm compared to Tehran.
“The best part is access to a great infrastructure and vast opportunities of a connected society. The ease of doing business, finding talent, and unique systems like the personnummer and mobile-bank ID are already in place,” he says.