“Commitments alongside your studies and a large network. That’s what you should invest in as a student to get the top job”, Linda Kvarnström says, Country Manager in Sweden of the top talent network Nova. Here she gives career advice to the student Marco Poblete.
Marco: What is a talent?
Linda: A person who has the ability to take a macro perspective, can see what is happening in the world and link it to their own operations. It is also a person who dares to test ideas, who are not sitting at home and thinking about something for years and then launch it when it’s finished. You need to be analytical, driven and able to translate ideas into action pretty quickly.
Marco: Which credentials do talent tend to have?
Linda: Previously we have looked more at the grades, now we look more at what they have done in addition to their studies. The employer is willing to invest in you if you can show that you are receptive to it and can take on the development they offer. Therefore, it is important to show that you are a person who has the drive, for example, that you have the ability to start your own company, have held leadership positions in a student organization or perhaps been competing in sports on an elite level. We often think that it’s okay with average grades if it is because you have focused on other things, for example, held a position with a lot of responsibility alongside your studies. Then there are of course industries that look a lot at grades to ensure that you are analytical.
Marco: If you take a business student, an HR student, and a law student, what should each student focus on based on the current situation?
Linda: For all, it is important to have a relevant network. I do not think it is so different, it’s not enough to have a good education, but you also have to do extra activities on the side.
Marco: In Sweden, the average age of graduates is high. Is the age something that you’ve seen employers focusing on when recruiting?
Linda: No, I’d say employers think it’s okay with older graduates. In Sweden, people have often managed to do quite a lot before they have finished their education. Many companies are looking for maturity when they recruit. We almost never talk with customers about age.
Marco: Double Degree, is there any relevance today?
Linda: Yes, it is always good to have a broader perspective. For all industries, it’s about the business. If you are going to have a key position and become the boss, for example, you have to be business-oriented. Therefore, it is almost always good that you have a combination.
Marco: I am a member of Nova’s talent network, what would you say the benefit of that kind of network is?
Linda: I think you almost always benefit from meeting people who have different backgrounds, either personal or educational. You get broader perspective, more insight and greater opportunities for good relations in the future. Networking is not just to meet and mingle. There’s a lot more value in having a network that you would not otherwise get access to, no matter which network it is.
Marco: What more can I as a student do to distinguish myself?
Linda: Do not forget your responsibility to learn what you need to know. You do not learn everything by studying. If you know what you want to work with, find out what you need to know. Talk to someone at the company, or with acquaintances who have come further in their studies or career. Will you, for example, work a lot with Excel or do case-interviews? Then make sure to prepare yourself for it.
Marco: It’s easy to feel stressed as a student. There’s pressure to work alongside your studies and at the same time get good grades.
Linda: I know exactly how it feels. It is difficult to avoid feeling a little pressure, if you want the most attractive jobs since there is fierce competition. But it is important to ask yourself what you are better off with and not do things because someone else wants you. One may ask whether it is worth it. Because if deep down you do not want to or can not be bothered, then perhaps the industries that require a huge amount of you isn’t the right one for you.
The article has been translated and originally appeared in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on November 14th, 2016.