Had her eyes set on her dream job
Sofia Petkovic chose a masters program with an internship component. Then she used the internship to network her way to a full time job.
Canadian Sofia Petkovic came to Norway to be with her boyfriend, now husband, who she met while backpacking in Australia. She had been working on different temporary contracts in Canada but her career hadn’t really taken off because she knew she would be leaving Canada.
- I was ready for my life to start in Norway. I thought I would find work right away, she says.
Switched it up
But when she started applying for jobs after waiting for her residency for almost a year, nothing happened. No one called her back and she didn’t get any interviews.
- I knew that I needed to switch up the game, and decided to get a masters. Not because I wasn’t qualified for the jobs I was applying for, in which case I was, but because I needed to network and get to know people in my field.
- A survey from 2016 found that 83 per cent of former UiB master students have found relevant work two years after graduating.
During her bachelor in Environmental Studies in Canada she did an exchange semester at UiB. She went back to the UiB website to look for a master’s program.
- I specifically looked for programs with an internship component. I knew that I needed people to see me at work.
She decided on a master in Gender in Global Development.
- I loved it. The program was great. Much of the teaching was done in smaller groups. That was a good learning environment for me and I enjoyed discussing with my peers.
Networked her way in
Her dream was to work for The Norwegian Refugee Council, and she knew that an internship there could be her way in.
- I contacted them, and during my internship, I chatted with everyone and made it clear to them that I intended to work there.
That payed off. During the internship, she got a tip about a part time position that would open up. She applied, and held the job while working on her thesis.
- I never would have found out about that position if I had not told everyone that I wanted to stay. While working the part time position I was asked to apply for a full time position in another department, and got it. You can network, even within your own organization.
In Petkovic’s experience, working in Norway and Canada is similar, but there are some differences.
- It is much nicer to work here. I think nice is a good word to use. Even when it is very busy at work, the environment is still relaxed and supportive. I am never intimidated by my employer. Employers in Norway have a much stronger sense of and appreciation for work-life balance.
By now, she understands Norwegian, but is still uncomfortable speaking it.
- But I am learning. I don’t want be one of those people that comes to a country and never ends up learning the language.
Her plan is to be able to speak Norwegian without feeling embarrassed or shy. She has no plans to go back to Canada.
- When I decided to come here, I knew that I would stay. Nothing ever felt temporary. This is my home now.