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Old 23.08.2013, 15:15
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Internship in Switzerland

Hi,

I'm going to be a student of Computer Science in Cambridge and I started to look for opportunities for next summer. I thought about going back to my country after first year to get experience but thought "heck, I'm young" and decided to look for internships abroad.

About 3 years ago I visited Switzerland and I instantly loved it. Especially the mountains. Thus I'm considering to apply for internships here after my first year.

Can someone help in linking to companies websites or search engines for internships? Is it a must to know German? I'm learning German currently just for fun even though IT companies are international usually and speak English. At least in my country and UK.

Also, are internships paid there? No matter how much I want to spend next summer in Switzerland, I need to earn some money from my work here in order to enjoy learning and the country. Usually, internships are paid in my country and the UK but how about Switzerland?

Thank you.
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Old 23.08.2013, 19:28
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

If you're not only interested in industrial internships you should definitely check out the Summer@EPFL internship program as there are some good CS related research groups at EPFL. I went two years ago and it was a great experience (ended up doing my PhD at EPFL too now). The internships are paid, not much but enough to cover your costs. EPFL is in the French speaking part of Switzerland, but there's no need at all to speak French, at least as far as the internship is concerned (it always helps in everyday life).

Just an idea
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Old 26.08.2013, 00:07
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

Hi,
Internship in Switzerland is paid but it will be hard to live with that money as you can't stay in "hotel mama". The payment itself might even sound like high but it is very, very low for living in Switzerland. Something like CHF 1000 is a normal salary for an intern but it varies a lot of your skills and tasks.

You might follow this page to find internship places: http://www.students.ch/jobs/stellenmarkt/internships
And check also this section as you can see that “internship” might have little different meaning in different countries http://www.students.ch/jobs/stellenmarkt/graduatejobs. that has also big impact to the salary.
Don't care about the German language job posts, they are looking for German speakers..

One common thing is to send an open application, normally as an email. Into the email text body you should tell your motivation why you want to make your internship there and your CV. European style CV, even with photo, is preferred, the US and UK style is not so liked style of CV here…
Computer people are needed in every company. Just start with the ones you are interested most and keep sending applications and getting contact with companies HR. The e-mail addresses and/or telephone numbers can be found on the company websites as you surely know. International and even American companies might be easiest as they might have most experience with international interns.

A big challenge might be the length of your internship. Most of Swiss company do not hire an intern for shorter that for 6 months.

As I don't know what your nationality is, I don't know if that will add challenges or even make is impossible to get a Swiss working permit. Should you be EU citizen then you’ll get the working permit without any problems.

Good luck!




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Old 26.08.2013, 00:35
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

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Something like CHF 1000 is a normal salary for an intern
Seems rather low, I was getting CHF 1200/month as an intern in 1982 here!

Tom
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Old 26.08.2013, 06:39
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

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Hi,
Internship in Switzerland is paid but it will be hard to live with that money as you can't stay in "hotel mama". The payment itself might even sound like high but it is very, very low for living in Switzerland. Something like CHF 1000 is a normal salary for an intern but it varies a lot of your skills and tasks.
Where did you get that info from? I worked as an intern in a computer science field in 2002 and already got 2600 CHF. Which was not a lot, but enough to survive in a shared apartment. I guess 2.5-3k is still the going rate at a decent company in Switzerland.
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Old 26.08.2013, 07:43
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

Hi,
I have hired interns, paid and unpaid. Also I know many students and they speak very openly about their salaries. Here is important to differentiate what does one understand under an “intern”. Is it same as Studentenjob, Praktikant, Trainee, Sommerjob and which skills and tasks an intern has. Mostly what I’ve seen is what we call “Praktikant” = a non professional helper (from employer point of view) who is supposed to get some practical experience always called “an intern”. And there the salaries vary a lot.
I’m in a US company and the highest salary we have paid for an intern was 1600 per month for one who worked for us the 3rd year and could actually take some responsibility. 1600 is nearly twice as much that we would pay for a 3rd year apprentice (Lehrling) who we expect to take relevantly more responsibility than an intern.
And the 1000 CHF is in our company a very high pay for an intern. In most of other European countries they, if get anything, they get max 500 Euro and take much more responsibility and mostly have completed their studies.
If one gets a internship place where they pay 2600 Franks should take it and be happy
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Old 26.08.2013, 09:10
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

Well, I'm from Lithuania and I would have no problems with getting work permit.

Here, an intern earns above minimum wage which is enough to rent an apartment, eat nicely and have an occasional trip to bar with friends.

1k CHF is not a lot really. Considering the idea that I could earn the same amount in britain for two weeks part time work in IT, it is not enough to survive in Switzerland obviously I was in Switzerland once and prices seemed astronomical.

Well, but still I don't lose hope in coming back here some time. There must be some international companies willing to hire young minds to help and to learn craft of programming. One only needs to search.

Since you told me that 6 months is a usual time frame to get internship, how local students manage to work in their field for 3 months? They must be working because, well, nowadays we are global market competing with each other. I highly doubt the idea of the moving to some other country to find internships.

I would be okay in the UK since 3 months internships are mainstream here but I would really like to change my environment. Switzerland was my dream country since the time I came there some years ago. Thus I'm trying to get back to it some time soon..
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Old 26.08.2013, 10:23
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

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In most of other European countries they, if get anything, they get max 500 Euro and take much more responsibility and mostly have completed their studies.
If one gets a internship place where they pay 2600 Franks should take it and be happy
That's how I ended up in Switzerland. Germany pays peanuts to interns while in CH the salaries are relatively fair.

A Praktikant is actually pretty well defined: A person enrolled in university, not graduated yet, spending a semester or the summer break in a company to work there full time. The job is related to his field of study and the intern is supposed to make relevant work experience.
It is not the student working ten hours a week as a cashier at the zoo. Not the summer job with hard manual labour that pays well to finance university or any part time job...

I'll be honest - I think a computer science student from Cambridge should be able to carry out way more complex tasks and act way more responsible on his own than any 3rd year apprentice who typically plans his days around smoking breaks... I know for a fact that my case was not some high flying exception but in fact the lower end of the payscale for university students doing several month long internships in the Swiss telecom industry. I later worked at another two companies in CH in the same industry and they paid the same or better.

1000 CHF for an intern in Switzerland in any IT related job is simply a no.
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Old 26.08.2013, 10:46
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

Well, Cambridge is good school for CS but in the end what counts is your own work, programming and open-source work. Something like that. Degree means nothing if all you did is what uni required.

Yesterday, I spent evening with several guys from Russia, Ukraine and Sudan talking about IT field and variety of hot topics such as who is going to dominate, salaries, knowledge, degrees and other related material. Two of them were without uni degrees, one was .NET developer in Ukraine and another worked as AI specialist in Moscow. They said that companies are looking for what you can do and don't give much crap about where you did your degree or whether you have it at all. As one of them said, it is of paramount importance to get work experience. It is industry culture to employ people who can do the job, not who has a fancy degree(though it helps in government jobs etc where I don't want to end up anyways).

As a sample, British employers pay 10-12 pounds an hour for an intern which is about 1,6-2k a month. It would be around 3k+ in CHF before taxes of course. So I don't really think that Swiss pay a lot less than British employers.

To be honest, my top goal is to see how business works. How it is run, how to make it successful. My ultimate goal is to create my own company, serving people with whatever we provide at the best quality/price ratio possible.

Now don't get me wrong. Cambridge may sound cool and stuff but there are many people from other unis who are better than Cambridge graduates and are infinitely more successful. I know a few.

My goal is to earn a living while learning, provide my knowledge for employer and gain experience in return. I simply want to change my scenery back to Swiss mountains...will never forget the beauty of them.
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Old 26.08.2013, 11:39
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

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Yesterday, I spent evening with several guys from Russia, Ukraine and Sudan talking about IT field and variety of hot topics such as who is going to dominate, salaries, knowledge, degrees and other related material. Two of them were without uni degrees, one was .NET developer in Ukraine and another worked as AI specialist in Moscow. They said that companies are looking for what you can do and don't give much crap about where you did your degree or whether you have it at all. As one of them said, it is of paramount importance to get work experience. It is industry culture to employ people who can do the job, not who has a fancy degree(though it helps in government jobs etc where I don't want to end up anyways).
Here is a top tip that helped me a lot in my career: People love to dish out advice... but it is not always as honest as it seems - it is human nature that people will tell you that their choice is the right one... that's the sort of advice you need to take with a huge pinch of salt.

The IT guy without degree with naturally tell you that formal education is completely overrated and "companies" (not just him and the other drop-outs...) value work experience much more... the PhD in CS will on the other hand tell you the opposite.

Simple answer: there is not one truth. I'd tell you that the smartest way is probably to get at least a bachelor degree and take it from there... if you want to go out and work after that - do it, you still can add a Masters later on. But if you don't do the BS will you later never go through the whole thing anymore. But that's of course exactly what I did myself... so take it with a pinch of salt as well
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Old 16.09.2015, 16:53
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

Did you find anything in Swizerland ? My son is applying to Cambridge for computer science and wants to take a gap year. As we live in Geneva, employment in Switzerland would be ideal.
Thanks,
Angus
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:57
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Re: Internship in Switzerland

If you'd like, PM me a your linkedin profile or CV. I'll check if there's a match with what we have. Any programming experience (especially front end, Java, or testing tools) will be a big plus - bigger than one in the Swiss flag.

Secondly, try: http://www.eth-gethired.ch/ or other Swiss university websites where they might have something that fits you. All the best!
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