Welcome to all new students and the returning students as well. This year has been unusual as a lot of classes are now being done online including orientation for new students, but the good news is that 2020 is fast going away and we hope things continue to improve. For those following the TaggedforUppsala Instagram page, a lot of interesting things happened in the welcome week and continues to. As part of the second year, some students have the option of doing an internship related to their program of study or taking a course. Whatever the choice you make, it must measure up to the required credits for the semester which is usually 30 credits. Some students opt to do a course of 15 credits with an internship of 15 credits or some like myself do a 30 credits internship. The important thing is that you are learning.
Finding an internship placement
Getting a place to do your internship is the same as looking for a job because you must write and submit many applications tailored to each company or organization you want the experience. You will need to plenty of determination because there will be rejections especially as a non-Swedish speaker, you have to look even wider, keeping your options open as language makes the core framework of the Swedish society. One thing I must add at this point is that getting a place is solely your responsibility and so you should aim to start early.
When you are considering where to do your internship, make sure it is relevant to your field of study and aim to get the experience which will be valuable during your thesis in the spring (coming) semester. If a place is not relevant, you may not get the approval from your department for it to be registered as a course. (You do not want to be disappointed after putting in so much effort to get a place). As much as getting a place equates with finding a real job, most positions are not paid, and your goal should be the experience which can become a bridge to a full-time job after studies or a doctoral position after your master’s degree. Depending on your goal, whether you want to continue your studies with a PhD or work, you will find places to match. Many organizations in Sweden accept interns and your department can also help you with the list of places you can apply even though the responsibility rests solely on you, the student to secure a place.
A future in academia
For a future PhD position, your goal should be more of research experience at organizations or projects where you can update your research skills, meet researchers in your selected field whom you can learn from. You have to reach out to many researchers based on how much their interest matches your career goals, work and background. You can find their contacts on the organization’s website where you can get relevant information about internship processes and priorities.
A future outside academia
If your goal is getting a job outside the academia, then your experience should be more focused on how the environment and systems where you want to intern work; this will give you an insight into the culture and how to secure a permanent position suited to your career goal (and possibly improve your Swedish, if you are not a native speaker).
There are options of doing your internship anywhere in the world, as students can even go back to your countries of origin, but that is subject to approval by your department and it is good you make enquiries to know what your options are and work towards it.
Start searching early
It is very important that you start your search early for a place because like finding a job as I earlier said, it is very competitive, also apply for courses as a backup plan. This gives you more options of securing the required credits for the semester should in case you cannot get a place when the deadline passes, and you are at risk of applying late, sometimes you may not even find late applications for courses after deadlines. It is better you consider applying for courses within the open period along with your search for an internship (as I did in my case) then you can choose not to register for the courses when you get a place for internship and you are admitted for the courses. It is always good to be realistic about the situation and stick with the rules of the program you are studying.
Ultimately, your goal should be to enjoy the process and the environment of learning here at Uppsala and avoid being overwhelmed with deadlines. Look out for new departmental and university information (you do not want to miss out on vital student information), always ask questions when you need help.
All the best in the new academic year!