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Old 30.01.2015, 17:14
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Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

Hi all, I am 25 and I am attending the second year of my PhD at a university in northern Italy. I graduated with full marks in telecommunications engineering, and my PhD deals with machine learning algorithms for telecommunication networks.

Next year (which will be the the last of my PhD) I will have the opportunity to spend at least 6 months abroad to carry on my research activity. My supervisor has contacts with universities in the US, especially in California, as well as some other universities in Europe. I will soon have a meeting with him to talk about my period abroad, so I am writing here to get some advices.

My current intention is that of getting a job in Europe rather than in the US, and I'd like to try to get one in Switzerland for a series of reasons (proximity to Italy, quality of leaving, ...). I won't look necessarily at telecommunications companies, whatever field would be good provided that the job is ok (I have decided on purpose to study machine learning that is actually a inter-disciplinary field).. I have studied French for 8 years, so I think this could be a plus for Swiss companies.

A friend of mine who is a PhD student at ETH in Zurich, told me that there the university has good connections with companies, and the labour market is promising. Therefore I am considering to ask my supervisor to let me go to ETH.. My idea is that, once in Zurich, I would spend the last weeks of my stay to send CVs and have job interviews.
I want to say that I have already found in internet a research group at ETH doing research in the same field I do.

Do you think this could work or I am totally wrong?

Thank you!
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Old 30.01.2015, 17:44
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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Hi all, I am 25 and I am attending the second year of my PhD at a university in northern Italy. I graduated with full marks in telecommunications engineering, and my PhD deals with machine learning algorithms for telecommunication networks.

Next year (which will be the the last of my PhD) I will have the opportunity to spend at least 6 months abroad to carry on my research activity. My supervisor has contacts with universities in the US, especially in California, as well as some other universities in Europe. I will soon have a meeting with him to talk about my period abroad, so I am writing here to get some advices.

My current intention is that of getting a job in Europe rather than in the US, and I'd like to try to get one in Switzerland for a series of reasons (proximity to Italy, quality of leaving, ...). I won't look necessarily at telecommunications companies, whatever field would be good provided that the job is ok (I have decided on purpose to study machine learning that is actually a inter-disciplinary field).. I have studied French for 8 years, so I think this could be a plus for Swiss companies.

A friend of mine who is a PhD student at ETH in Zurich, told me that there the university has good connections with companies, and the labour market is promising. Therefore I am considering to ask my supervisor to let me go to ETH.. My idea is that, once in Zurich, I would spend the last weeks of my stay to send CVs and have job interviews.
I want to say that I have already found in internet a research group at ETH doing research in the same field I do.

Do you think this could work or I am totally wrong?

Thank you!
Well, not necessarily wrong, but you do realise that over in Zurich they speak German and not French? So you'd have to start all over again on the language side of things if you move there.
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Old 30.01.2015, 17:56
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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Well, not necessarily wrong, but you do realise that over in Zurich they speak German and not French? So you'd have to start all over again on the language side of things if you move there.
My thoughts exactly. Perhaps you'd have success more quickly if you networked via EPFL instead?
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Old 30.01.2015, 18:12
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

On the other hand, if you go to Zurich and get yourself a crash course in the German language you would be even more employable on the swiss market (which often seeks both French and German...).

But this is highly dependent on what you see yourself doing in a future job. If you're more of a technical guy then even English is probably enough and you will go based on your learned technical skills and specialisation. But if you are aiming for jobs that are less focused on your speciality and more on your customer-facing/personal-relations skills then more local languages will benefit you in the swiss market, especially German.

It's worth thinking about some examples of jobs you would see yourself into and then take the decision accordingly. Strategically, a broader experience is always better so don't discount going to US if you can get to one of the top unis there.
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Old 30.01.2015, 18:43
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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My thoughts exactly. Perhaps you'd have success more quickly if you networked via EPFL instead?
Yes, I know Zurich is german-speaking, but I have heard that many companies are ok with English. I would start learning german also.. I said Zurich because it seems a "richer" city to me..
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Old 30.01.2015, 18:58
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

Well, I would look at EPFL too and also maybe the uni at Fribourg. Fribourg canton is bi-lingual so you could put your French to good use while you learn German.
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Old 30.01.2015, 19:02
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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On the other hand, if you go to Zurich and get yourself a crash course in the German language you would be even more employable on the swiss market (which often seeks both French and German...).

But this is highly dependent on what you see yourself doing in a future job. If you're more of a technical guy then even English is probably enough and you will go based on your learned technical skills and specialisation. But if you are aiming for jobs that are less focused on your speciality and more on your customer-facing/personal-relations skills then more local languages will benefit you in the swiss market, especially German.

It's worth thinking about some examples of jobs you would see yourself into and then take the decision accordingly. Strategically, a broader experience is always better so don't discount going to US if you can get to one of the top unis there.
I would prefer to work in the IT field, but I have not a precise preference. I can do programming, but I think I like also managing or selling products (in this case it would be good to use french if the send me in lausanne or similar).
The thing "ETH vs California" is because once returned in Italy it would be more difficult to find a job in Switzerland with respect to look for it while I am there.

Thanks for your replies!
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Old 30.01.2015, 21:06
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

Your supervisor may "let you go to ETH" but you will need someone there to sponsor you, so to speak. Would your current PhD salary/stipend allow you to rent a room and buy some pasta in CH with no further support? I would research what is being worked on in your preferred field at all the Swiss ETH's, Uni Friburg etc as well as asking your supervisor directly if he/she has any good connections. If you are in the last stage of the PhD presumably you will be quite busy finishing and revising your thesis in preparation for the final defense?

In your shoes I would put more emphasis on finding the right people to work with in the last stage, then next priority the geographical location.
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Old 30.01.2015, 21:31
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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Your supervisor may "let you go to ETH" but you will need someone there to sponsor you, so to speak. Would your current PhD salary/stipend allow you to rent a room and buy some pasta in CH with no further support? I would research what is being worked on in your preferred field at all the Swiss ETH's, Uni Friburg etc as well as asking your supervisor directly if he/she has any good connections. If you are in the last stage of the PhD presumably you will be quite busy finishing and revising your thesis in preparation for the final defense?

In your shoes I would put more emphasis on finding the right people to work with in the last stage, then next priority the geographical location.
Sure I will have to be accepted by ETH/EPFL... While abroad I will get 1500 euros from my universities, plus I will try to win some scholarship (by the way, do swiss universities pay (a bit also) foreign phd students?)

The focus of my question however is that if the choice of going to switzerland instead of US could help me to find a good job in swiss once I finish my PhD.. provided that I succeed in going to Switzerland (eventually I will use some money I have saved so far just to live there). Because if this was not worth then I won't ask my sxupervisor to go to eth at all!
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Old 30.01.2015, 22:46
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

Maybe you know this, but it isn't just a case of being accepted by ETHZ or cohorts in Lausanne, you would need to be "employed" by a specific Professor or Institute. Why don't you think more about seeking a post-doc in CH?

It is going to be quite challenging to convince any prospective employer that you are "their person" if your main motivation for wanting to work for them is their CH location.
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Old 30.01.2015, 23:09
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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...I will have the opportunity to spend at least 6 months abroad to carry on my research activity...
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Sure I will have to be accepted by ETH/EPFL... While abroad I will get 1500 euros from my universities, plus I will try to win some scholarship (by the way, do swiss universities pay (a bit also) foreign phd students?)
I'm not sure how that would work. If I read you correctly, you would not actually be studying for your PhD at the other school - you'd just be doing your research at another facility? I don't think you'd get paid by both the Swiss (or Americans) and your current university for the same work, but it never hurts to ask. My OH did his PhD in Switzerland, but spent several months in the U.S. at a university as well. He was never paid by the U.S. uni, as he was a "visiting researcher" and not an actual PhD student at the other school.

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The focus of my question however is that if the choice of going to switzerland instead of US could help me to find a good job in swiss once I finish my PhD
If your long-term goal is to work in Switzerland/Europe, then I'd certainly try to be placed here for your 6 months - if you can afford it. A lot of jobs here are obtained through networking, and the universities mentioned are networking goldmines. You've got an EU passport and you already speak two of the national languages... so you're a leg up on any U.S. graduate that applies here.
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Old 31.01.2015, 00:08
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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I'm not sure how that would work. If I read you correctly, you would not actually be studying for your PhD at the other school - you'd just be doing your research at another facility? I don't think you'd get paid by both the Swiss (or Americans) and your current university for the same work, but it never hurts to ask. My OH did his PhD in Switzerland, but spent several months in the U.S. at a university as well. He was never paid by the U.S. uni, as he was a "visiting researcher" and not an actual PhD student at the other school.



If your long-term goal is to work in Switzerland/Europe, then I'd certainly try to be placed here for your 6 months - if you can afford it. A lot of jobs here are obtained through networking, and the universities mentioned are networking goldmines. You've got an EU passport and you already speak two of the national languages... so you're a leg up on any U.S. graduate that applies here.
Ok, I know that is not sure that i will be accepted at eth. As I already said, I have found a research group at eth whose research projects are compatible with mine, and I will ask to them. Also, my supervisor knows the main prof of this group, so I hope I would have some chances to be accepted. Obviously when I will ask to go there I will stress my research possibilities, capacities and motivations.. and not just the geographic convenience of eth! In any case these reserach motivations are absolutely valid.. eth is one of the top universities!
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Old 01.02.2015, 15:01
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

Can anybody give me some other advices, please?
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Old 02.02.2015, 00:17
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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Can anybody give me some other advices, please?
At 26 and with a machine learning phd ?.I would go straight first to the Bay area and make my 6 month stay there, and try to place my CV in one of the web companies there (google, facebook), they all.need.big data experts. or one of the many start ups on data analysis to do research (so you don t close the way back to uni). After a 2-3 year, if you still want to try Switzerland, apply for a post doc in ETH, using then the recommendation from your current supervisor (keep this valuable contact) and then you will have 2 years to look for a job here. And you will have your experience in the industry, and in the bay area, which will open you.many doors. Google, ebay and ibm research are also in or.near Zurich, for instance. Many consulting companies are also looking for data analysts to offer services to their customers, that is another way into the industry. A recent phd with no industrial experience may need more than 6 months to find a job in Zurich, except if you make it into the big companies mentioned.

Good luck!
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Old 02.02.2015, 04:38
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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At 26 and with a machine learning phd ?.I would go straight first to the Bay area and make my 6 month stay there, and try to place my CV in one of the web companies there (google, facebook), they all.need.big data experts. or one of the many start ups on data analysis to do research (so you don t close the way back to uni). After a 2-3 year, if you still want to try Switzerland, apply for a post doc in ETH, using then the recommendation from your current supervisor (keep this valuable contact) and then you will have 2 years to look for a job here. And you will have your experience in the industry, and in the bay area, which will open you.many doors. Google, ebay and ibm research are also in or.near Zurich, for instance. Many consulting companies are also looking for data analysts to offer services to their customers, that is another way into the industry. A recent phd with no industrial experience may need more than 6 months to find a job in Zurich, except if you make it into the big companies mentioned.

Good luck!
+1
This is exactly what I was going to post, with a minor difference: California, and the Bay Area in particular, have a tendency to "suck you in", meaning that you'll think you're only going there for a few months, and before you know it, it's been 5 years and you're still there!
Having been there, done that, and gotten the T- shirt...go to the Bay Area! Switzerland, and the rest of Europe for that matter, will still be there if/when you decide to come back.
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Old 02.02.2015, 14:43
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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At 26 and with a machine learning phd ?.I would go straight first to the Bay area and make my 6 month stay there, and try to place my CV in one of the web companies there (google, facebook), they all.need.big data experts. or one of the many start ups on data analysis to do research (so you don t close the way back to uni). After a 2-3 year, if you still want to try Switzerland, apply for a post doc in ETH, using then the recommendation from your current supervisor (keep this valuable contact) and then you will have 2 years to look for a job here. And you will have your experience in the industry, and in the bay area, which will open you.many doors. Google, ebay and ibm research are also in or.near Zurich, for instance. Many consulting companies are also looking for data analysts to offer services to their customers, that is another way into the industry. A recent phd with no industrial experience may need more than 6 months to find a job in Zurich, except if you make it into the big companies mentioned.

Good luck!
another +1, and there's really not much else to add. With your background, if you actually have a chance to go to US/Cali/Bay Area, by all means, do that. Switzerland can wait.
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Old 02.02.2015, 14:45
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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another +1, and there's really not much else to add.
The thing is I'd like to stay in Europe after my PhD...
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Old 02.02.2015, 14:58
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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The thing is I'd like to stay in Europe after my PhD...
The reasons being?

It's six months plus possibly a few more after graduation, you're not exactly committing to a lifetime in the US here.


At the end of the day, it's your life, not ours, and you have to decide. Passing up an actual opportunity as outlined by suissa/Boker would be - frankly - quite stupid. If you're set on Europe for whatever reason, then everything you outlined in your OP is a more or less correct assumption. Others have added a few comments already.

ETH is certainly a very good university with an equally good reputation and generally, job prospects for someone with your background won't be the worst at any rate. However the labor market is incredibly competitive and quite slow as well - I can almost assure you that spending the "few last weeks of your stay sending CVs" (which I read as 5-6 weeks) are unlikely to get you far (of course one might always be lucky!). Again, the markets here have nowhere near the dynamics of those in most of the US. German language skills might not matter as of a certain point in your career - but they might as an entry-level employee, even in multinationals.

Just a few things to consider.
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Old 02.02.2015, 23:54
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

OP, you mentioned you also like selling and managing. That may make IT-consulting a valid path as they are the link/hinge between the techies and management.

Europe is segmentized by language areas. Since long term you intend to stay on this side of the Atlantic adding one more language to your toolbelt would increase opportunities available, as well as increase your market value.

With respect to european economies you may want to go north the Alps as the southern parts for the foreseeable future will probably continue to have serious issues.

P.S.:
Google has a significant campus in Zurich. I trust they have close ties to ETHZ.

With that said it may be relevant why you want to stay in Europe. For instance, if it's a heart thing or gut feeling it's non-arguable, otherwise it may be important to know your reasons.
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Old 03.02.2015, 00:10
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Re: Getting a job in Switzerland after period at ETH

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OP, you mentioned you also like selling and managing. That may make IT-consulting a valid path as they are the link/hinge between the techies and management.

Europe is segmentized by language areas. Since long term you intend to stay on this side of the Atlantic adding one more language to your toolbelt would increase opportunities available, as well as increase your market value.

With respect to european economies you may want to go north the Alps as the southern parts for the foreseeable future will probably continue to have serious issues.

P.S.:
Google has a significant campus in Zurich. I trust they have close ties to ETHZ.

With that said it may be relevant why you want to stay in Europe. For instance, if it's a heart thing or gut feeling it's non-arguable, otherwise it may be important to know your reasons.
Heart thing
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