So, summer is here, (or maybe almost…depending on how much of an optimist you are) and that means that apart from preparing for exams, you are either making plans to take a well-earned vacation or you are in the process of trying to secure a student job/internship. Both sound like a good plan, however, going about the latter is what I will try to give tips on in this article.
As an international student in Copenhagen, you probably may have figured out already that in a general sense, there are only two categories of jobs available to you: Study-relevant jobs and well…. all the others!! You also might have read or heard that one kind is easier to get than the other, but then, this does not necessarily have to be so. Really? Yes, so keep reading.
As the name implies, a study-relevant job is one which is directly relevant to your course of study and is likely one you might even want to keep after you graduate. It is of course not untrue that securing one might be a tad tricky especially as an international student but hey, maybe there are places you haven’t looked. As the saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’. Universities in Copenhagen and in Denmark generally, do employ students to carry out academic or administrative tasks, while some professors actually require the services of student assistants from time to time.
Generally, these possibilities are advertised on the university job portal but then, wouldn’t it be cool to actually get wind of them even before they become public knowledge? This is where your being proactive comes in. The difference between what you know about and what you don’t know is generally who you have spoken with, or rather, who you haven’t spoken with. It is usually a good idea to maintain a good relationship with your Danish counterparts as they could potentially know about open positions before you ever will.
Another thing is to chat also with some of your teachers to see if there are any student job possibilities they know of. Of course, in order to do that, you need to establish some form of relationship first, as you do not want your first one-on-one conversation with your professor to be the one where you ask about a job. I, for example, know international students who work as research assistants for professors, so this is not uncommon. The KU jobportal and Jobbank are examples of websites that you should have bookmarked on your device, as there are different positions advertised from time to time.
If you do not want to work in academic environment, then of course the thing to do, is to look out for companies that provide services within your field of study and actively seek out opportunities with those companies. It is a given, that there are advertised student positions from time to time, however, the fact is that there are hundreds of other students (Danes inclusive) who apply for those positions and so it is better to try another tact. One thing you could do is to find out the contact details of the section head of the department you are interested in within a particular organization and then send them an email about potential opportunities and be sure to detail what you can offer as a student worker. This indicates that you are well motivated and also puts your name out there.
Another avenue you could exploit are the different career fairs which some companies or the university hold at different times of the year. Again, it is incumbent on you to find out the details of these events and that is not exactly difficult, as many of them are advertised on Facebook and LinkedIn (so that’s your cue to put social media to better use).
Relatively unknown to quite a number of students, the Universities in Denmark, in conjunction with Copenhagen Capacity, run a program for international students called the Youth Goodwill Ambassador Program. This program amongst other things, aims to equip international students in Denmark towards landing their first job. This is done through different talent conferences and career development programs. One perk of participating in this program is that you get to meet and relate face-to-face with top management of different blue chip companies in Denmark, so you might want to look into joining at your university, as it could be your doorway to getting that job you want.
It is also imperative to create job alerts on the career page of the companies you are interested in so that you for example, get information on job postings before they get published on LinkedIn or other external websites. Apart from that, there are other useful job search sites such as GraduateLand and Monster.dk, which have a database of all job, volunteer and internship opportunities. In all this, it is imperative to keep a positive attitude and to be ready to send emails on end, as the whole search process takes some dedication.
Often times, non-study-related jobs tend to be in the service sector. These range from jobs in restaurants and cafes to stores and hotels. It is well known that these jobs are more easily accessible by international students as they do not so much require Danish language skills. However, this is not to say that they are exactly easy to get. These kind of jobs may not be your long term plan but they pay sufficiently to help support your stay in Copenhagen.
If there is one technique that works while searching for these jobs, it is the old school door-to-door search. It has been shown to be highly effective to walk from establishment to establishment, enquiring about openings and handing out your CV. This is even more so, as these establishments tend not to advertise job openings as much, so the best bet is to go searching for the vacancy by yourself.
The importance of building and making use of your network cannot be over emphasized because since in many cases, information regarding vacancies is disseminated by word-of-mouth. Hence, it is more important that you get to talk with people and that people have you on their mind when they learn of these things.
So, expand your network and in addition to your fellow internationals, befriend your Danish colleagues and even your professors. Be sure to make good use of social media, especially LinkedIn and Facebook. Join social/sports clubs, dance classes, a church, and so on and so forth because it is in these sort of groups that you get to meet people and build those relationships that will make life much easier in Copenhagen. Ultimately, I have come to learn that building a network goes a long way in helping with getting a student job in Copenhagen.
This is of course, not the actual aim of student-job searching, but it is a proven way of actually landing a regular job. More details on volunteering options in future blog posts.
So, as you go about your student-job search, I wish you all the best of luck and hope that you have found some inspiration here.