SHARE
COPY LINK

JOBS

#MySweden: How I carved out my Swedish career in five steps

Every week one of The Local's readers takes over our Instagram. Today, Shaena Harrison from Canada shows us her Sweden.

#MySweden: How I carved out my Swedish career in five steps
Shaena Harrison. Photo: Private
How old are you and what do you normally spend your days doing?
 
I am 37 and I spend my days producing events.
 
Don't miss Shaena Harrison's guide to networking your way to a Swedish career:
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

I get contacted a lot about finding a #job in Sweden so I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you all know what worked for me. 1. Networking. This can be a dreadful task if you’re not feeling up to it or not sure where to start. Depending on the line of work you are looking for, I would look for events in your field and rock up. If you have a friend that will go with you, take them as your “wing person” and each of you can introduce each other to the person you might want to say hi to. 2. Be present and leave your digital breadcrumbs. For example, posting relevant content on LinkedIn or writing articles. 3. Volunteer. As I mentioned in a previous post, volunteering is a great way to make friends but also showing your talent to potential others that might be hiring at their companies. I know quite a few people in my TEDx network that have gotten their jobs through volunteering. 4. Sign up to a mentor ship program like @oppnadorren where you will be paired with a native from the country that could help you break into a new network. 5. Start your own company! That’s what I did and launched a very popular running event which gave me my launchpad to other opportunities. With a bit of luck and hard work, there are opportunities out there. If you have any questions or need some advice, I’m happy to lend some if I can. Ps. LinkedIn is my jam so feel free to connect with me there and send a personalized message so I know why you’re reaching out. (Also – personalizes messages are good for anyone you’re reaching out to) http://linkedin.com/in/shaenaharrison #jobsearch #career #jobsinsweden

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 26 Jun 2019 kl. 6:20 PDT

 

When and why did you move to your neighbourhood?

Well, we have two neighbourhoods. Our “city” home is in Kallhäll, Järfälla, which we moved to in 2011. When we moved to Sweden my husband had never stood in the queue for housing so we lucked out and got our first-hand contract through Bostadssnabben which placed us in Kallhäll. 

Our “country” home, which we bought in 2017, is about 15 minutes from Sandviken in a cute little village called Gästrike-Hammarby. We ended up buying our home here as we wanted something that was max two hours away from the city, had city water and wasn’t a “fixer-upper”. You’re welcome to rent it.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

Hey ? everyone! I’m Shaena “Tjena” and I’ll be your host for the next week. One of my favourite things about the Swedish language is when you pronounce my name it actually sounds like “Tjena” – the way you say “Hej” so it’s easy to remember my usually hard name. ?? I’m originally from #winnipeg #canada ?? and have been living in #Sweden ?? Since 2011 and abroad since 2006. How did I end up in Sweden? Well I bought a one way ticket, moved to Ireland ?? (didn’t know a soul) and a few months in I met my Swede…we’ve been together ever since. Now we have 2 kids and careers. And guess what! It’s midsummer today so I’ll be giving you a taste of #mysweden and how we #celebrate #midsummer / #midsommar @tourismireland @sweaireland @canada @daftdive

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Jun 21, 2019 at 12:27am PDT

 
What do you love most about life in your neighbourhood?
 
What I love most about our Kallhäll neighbourhood is that it’s so convenient to get to for our kids going to school and commuting to Stockholm. What I love most about our country home is that it’s so quiet and peaceful and gives us a good place to decompress from our busy weeks. 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

A #snapsvisa is a traditional Scandinavian drinking song which is often sung before a small shot of spirit that is called a snaps. A typical snapsvisa is a short, vigorous song; its lyrics usually tell of the delicacy and glory of the drink, or of the singer’s craving for snaps. Snapsvisor are short, bright, and easy to learn. The most well known snapsvisa in Sweden is #helangår Snapsvisor are an important part of traditional and family festivities on Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and among Swedish-speaking Finns. The singing of these songs is also a lively part of Scandinavian student culture. My family is visiting so we are giving them the full Swedish/Scandinavian experience.

A post shared by The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) on Jun 21, 2019 at 3:22am PDT

 
And what annoys you the most?
 
I think the thing that annoys me most about the city home is when there are train repairs. For the last few summers they’ve shut down the pendeltåg which is frustrating when you still need to commute to the city for work. Good thing though is we have a direct bus to the other pendeltåg line.
 
 
How should we spend a day in your neighbourhood?
 
You should spend your day in Kallhäll at the beach! And you should spend your day in Gästrike-Hammarby also at the beach in Årsunda. Or skiing in Kungsberget.
 
 
What's a fun fact not everyone knows about your neighbourhood?
 
A fun fact about our neighbourhood is that actress Geena Davis attended Wareham High School as an exchange student in Sandviken, Sweden, becoming fluent in Swedish. 
 
 
Follow Shaena Harrison on Instagram here. To find out how you can become The Local's next #MySweden host, click HERE.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

WORKING IN SWEDEN

How to switch to a career in Sweden’s booming gaming industry

Sweden's gaming industry is crying out for top international talent, but the skills shortage also creates opportunities for professionals in other fields to switch to a career in gaming. Senior experts share their best tips with The Local.

How to switch to a career in Sweden's booming gaming industry

Home to world-famous gaming studios like Mojang, King and DICE – the creators of Minecraft, Candy Crush and Battlefield, respectively – Swedish games have been downloaded nearly seven billion times. Every fourth person on the planet has played a game made in Sweden.

And the number of new gaming companies and employees is only increasing, despite concerns about the impact of the pandemic, according to a new report from Sweden’s gaming industry association

In 2022, Swedish gaming studios increased turnover by 18 percent to 32.6 billion kronor, setting a new record. Combined, the turnover of the 23 listed computer game companies amounted to 61 billion kronor – a threefold increase since 2020 and almost twice as much as in 2021.

However, the talent shortage is an ongoing struggle, and the industry relies heavily on foreigners to plug the gaps.

“There’s a massive skills shortage, especially on the technical side, due to the sheer amount of coding required. I think the industry wants to do more to keep growing the Swedish game phenomena, but the talent shortage hinders us,” says Ludvig Moberg Edenbäck, people experience partner at Mojang Studios.

But if you’re a gaming newbie, how do you make the switch?

Bringing a fresh perspective could be your ultimate ability

Magdalena Björkman, a senior producer at Arrowhead Games, has a background in linguistics and started her career in the manufacturing industry back home in Poland.

“The gaming industry needs people from different backgrounds more than ever. We really need to encourage people who bring different perspectives to the table to come in,” she says.

After studying Japanese, Björkman worked as a translator and coordinator, acting as a conduit between Polish and Japanese engineers. One day she stumbled across a job ad for a Polish games developer looking for an assistant producer who could handle localisation, and eventually started looking for opportunities outside of Poland, landing a role at King in Sweden.

“Swedish and Polish work culture is totally different. I had to get used to not having to be the loudest person in the room to get my opinion across, which I actually really like. It was really, really nice working for King. It was a lot more collaborative. In general, Sweden felt a lot more progressive than Poland.”

Björkman knows other linguists who switched to gaming too and says being able to interpret and translate what people are saying to others is a crucial skill, especially as a producer.

“Whatever you do, you always end up working with people, communication and translation. I’ve always been trying to connect people, and as a games producer, being able to translate different perspectives to help collaboration. Gaming is also a multinational crowd. So if you come from linguistics and you know how to work with different people and cultures, it’s a good fit.”

You don’t need to know how to build games – but you need to be passionate about them

Luis Cascante, currently chief of staff at Rovio and head of the board of education for Futuregames, stresses that this is an industry that values passion. “If you don’t care about games at all, don’t bother,” he says. Gaming isn’t just a business, it’s a creative art form, and you’re unlikely to get hired if the interest and passion aren’t there.

“I’ve worked with studio founders who basically tell everyone they expect passion, whatever their role is, and if they don’t have it, there’s no place for them in their studio,” says Cascante.

Around half of Mojang’s staff have a technical background, and 30 percent are foreigners. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Mojang’s Moberg Edenbäck, who is an avid gamer, agrees that demonstrating an interest in gaming helps, although it’s not a strict requirement for all roles.

“At Mojang, we’re in a unique spot because we’ve been around for 15 years and a lot of people that reach out to us have grown up with Minecraft. Sometimes Minecraft is even the reason they started coding, and working here is basically their dream job,” he says.

“But if that’s not the case, one thing people can do to demonstrate interest is to have hobby projects. A lot of people create games in their spare time, or designers and artists create characters just for fun. If you do that, it’s definitely a positive.”

Identify your transferable skills to help you level up

Like any other industry, there are plenty of transferable skills that make your application more desirable. Coders have a slight advantage, as games are built using programming languages (specifically C++ and Java), putting experienced coders in high demand.

“If you’re a C++ developer and you have some experience, even if it’s not with games, you will always be on the map. There is absolutely no shortage of roles that you can apply for,” says Luis Cascante.

Many blockbuster games are built using C++, and experience with 3D creation tools like Unreal Engine and Unity provides the easiest entry points if you come from a technical background.

Cascante says data analysis is another sought-after skill: “It’s not necessarily part of hands-on game creation, but data analysts are definitely in demand. At Rovio, none of our data analysts are from Europe, because we simply can’t find them.”

“If you’re good at maths, statistics and SQL, studios are more likely to pick you up, even if you’re slightly more junior because there’s such a demand right now,” he adds.

DICE, headquartered in Stockholm, is one of the major players in the gaming industry. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

But it’s not all about coders.

“Producers, artists, designers, marketers and HR practitioners are all needed to successfully build, launch, and market a successful game,” adds Moberg Edenbäck.

Project management, product management and UX design are also highly transferable skill sets, with many people bringing this kind of expertise into gaming after starting out their careers in other industries.

Network, get a mentor and look for internships

Some practical tips Magdalena Björkman shares for those wanting to switch to gaming are to network, look for mentors, and keep an eye out for internships.

“People are very friendly in the gaming industry, so just talk to them! It’s easy to reach out and approach people as mentors, which can help a lot. Also, look for internships, and go to networking events,” she says.

“There are more opportunities now compared to ten years ago, with boot camps and such. I work with a producer at Arrowhead now who had a background in publishing, but he did a course, and now he’s a full-time game producer.”

However, she urges people not to take the decision to switch careers lightly.

“Gaming can be tough. You need to love what you’re doing, take care of yourself, and have other hobbies outside of gaming. It’s easy to get consumed,” she says.

Get an education in gaming

For those who are truly committed to switching to a career in gaming, studying at one of Stockholm’s specialised gaming schools may be an option (they also offer evening classes).

Unsurprisingly, Futuregames’ Cascante is a big advocate for gaming schools and believes they’re a great pathway into the industry for people with the interest but not the experience.

“I’m chairman of the board of education at Futuregames, and we see people in Stockholm are actually taking courses to break into the industry,” he says.

“They take around two and a half years, which sounds like a lot, but you get a lot of training and professional internships in studios. The schools are really good at matchmaking between companies and students. Often the students stay on after their internships, and if they don’t, they still get at least six months of real experience in the industry.”

Minecraft has sold more than 300 million copies, making it the best selling game ever. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Other schools include the Sweden Game Area and The Game Assembly, which offer courses in everything from agile project management in gaming to game design and 3D modelling for artists. Most of Sweden’s gaming studios offer internships regularly, including Mojang.

Swedish universities also offer part-time remote modules in for example coding. It’s free to study at university in Sweden for EU citizens and for non-EU residents who are in Sweden on another permit than a student permit, so for example work permits or spouse permits.

Ride the post-boom wave

The gaming industry has a historic reputation for only hiring people with gaming experience, but Björkman believes this mindset is changing.

“In the past, the industry has been a little elitist. It used to be that you needed ten years of experience to get into gaming, but now that’s changing and it’s becoming more open. This is great because we need experience from different industries to bring new know-how and knowledge. We don’t need to do things the same way all the time,” she says.

This is no surprise. After substantial long-term success, it makes sense that a talent-strapped industry has to start casting its net a little wider.

The conclusion? As long as you’re passionate, proactive, and can offer a valuable new perspective, it’s definitely possible to switch to a career path in Sweden’s burgeoning gaming industry.

SHOW COMMENTS