Stockholm is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, with people flocking from all over the world to join the booming tech scene.
There are dozens of reasons to move to the Swedish capital, many of them involving work. But what about those who follow someone to Sweden, with no job awaiting?
“My Swedish wife and I decided to live in Stockholm for professional reasons,” says Mikolaj Norek, a Polish-Austrian expat and entrepreneur. “She’s a psychologist so she really needs her language for work, and we thought I could get by with English.”
Norek and his wife met while he was studying on an exchange programme at the Stockholm School of Economics. They tried long-distance for a while after that before he finally decided to make the move to Stockholm permanently.
What came next threw him for a loop.
“Honestly, when I moved here I was overly self-confident. I didn’t speak Swedish and yet I still had this attitude that ‘This country needs me’,” he recalls.
“It didn’t work out that way.”
Over period of four months Norek sent out 200 applications – and didn’t get a single interview.
“I barely even got any messages saying my application was received,” he remarks. “I was really baffled.”
Part of the problem, he notes in retrospect, is that he moved to Stockholm in May and spent the entire summer searching for work.
“The country shuts down entirely during those months. No one is reading your application,” he says. “Meanwhile, I was getting more and more desperate.”
When autumn rolled around, Norek confesses now, he was so discouraged he was close to leaving Stockholm altogether.
“I was prepared to go back to London,” he says. “But I applied to one last job, at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship (SSES).”
And then he did something which made all the difference:
“I went to their networking event and workshops,” Norek adds.