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Old 28.03.2015, 19:21
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Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

Is a International School diploma, American BA in Bio Chemistry ( with honors), Swiss passport, German and English, year of Swiss military , and an internship at a Swiss Bio Chem laboratory NOT enough to find a job? Our soon to be 25 son is starting to really get down and we are beginning to feel frustrated with him.

Is it true, one MUST get a Master's degree to qualify for a job in this area! Without experience, he doesn't know which specialization to do.

Oh dear...
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Old 28.03.2015, 20:01
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

Apparently not..
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Old 28.03.2015, 20:14
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

I haven't read all your posts/threads, so sorry if this is a duplicate to what you've already posted...what has he been doing to apply for jobs? How many jobs has he applied for over how long of a timeframe? Any interviews? Is he customizing every CV and cover letter? Making it clear he's got working privileges even if his degree is not from here? Is he only looking close to home, or is he looking all over the country? How are his networking skills with his military buddies and his colleagues from the internship?

Don't give up. You've seen how hard it is for our EF members with higher degrees and experience to get jobs. It takes a lot of persistence, patience, and a little luck.

On top of that, I think he's in a tough, but not impossible situation. There are loads of experienced folks with master's degrees all over Europe that want to come here to work. He's competing against them. A lot of job ads I've seen do ask for a Master's degree. As for what to study, it may not matter. The degree just gets you a leg up on the competition. If he is ready to give up on the job hunt, have him pick something he likes and give it a go for the master's.
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Old 28.03.2015, 20:46
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

In europe it's unusual to just stop at the bachelor especially in scientific areas and as far as i know lab tech also need a master, maybe he should do a master, it's only 1.5 years or even 1 year (fast-track) in switzerland as compared to other european countries and very practical oriented, you may start in the lab from the first day so it's not as heavy as going back to lectures and exams. Being international and having previous experience in an internship in switzerland will surely help him get to do the master thesis in a research group he likes without difficulty.
If he pursues a master in biochemistry for example he's not specializing in anything so no problem there, although the topic of his master thesis might pave the way to a PhD in the same area or may give him the specific knowledge that might help him land a specific job later, but it's not a specialization that closes doors per se, just one that gives you an advantage in that particular field.
Whatever he chooses remember the application deadline is 30 april.
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Old 29.03.2015, 11:18
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

Thanks, Three Wishes and Meerkat33. I'll pass on the good advice!

He is an intelligent young man, ready to get out of his parent's basement!

Next deadline: April 30th!
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Old 29.03.2015, 11:33
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

How far away is he looking? has he made a list of every pharma/bio/chem/university lab across switzerland/EU? Is he looking for something in particular? Is it very clear in his CV that he has a Swiss passport and has completed military? Do you think he is getting any negativity for being american/us? What level of German/French does he have and is he certified for the language?

We have an aussie friend doing a postdoc at the max planck institute (Germany) and the other working in Sweden, postdoc with permanent work... They are very hard jobs to get into, competition is fierce and science jobs are a bit tricky to find...
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Old 29.03.2015, 11:36
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

I just did a quick google search for 'biochem jobs' and there are a lot of recruitment agencies.... Has he gone down that path yet?

http://jobs.newscientist.com/en-gb/j...nited-kingdom/
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Old 29.03.2015, 12:27
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

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Is a International School diploma, American BA in Bio Chemistry ( with honors), Swiss passport, German and English, year of Swiss military , and an internship at a Swiss Bio Chem laboratory NOT enough to find a job? Our soon to be 25 son is starting to really get down and we are beginning to feel frustrated with him.

Is it true, one MUST get a Master's degree to qualify for a job in this area! Without experience, he doesn't know which specialization to do.

Oh dear...
Speaking as a person in the biological sciences, part of the perceived problem may be the mismatch between your son's qualifications and the Swiss systems. In America a Bachelors is a 4 year degree which would qualify you to be a technician in a lab somewhere. But while this degree would qualify your son to be a technician in the US, here technicians enroll in a special Fachhochschule (vocational school) to learn to be technicians. This degree program has some theory, but involves much more practice than in the US system, often involving extended training periods (stages) in labs of potential employers to develop a long list of skills. These people tend to be local hires, so employers have a vested interest in participating in this apprenticeship system.

In Europe a bachelors degree is a 3 year academic degree which requires a further 2 years (Master's) to make you viable for the most Junior of academic posts. This is partly for historical reasons, as before the Lisbon Protocol this used to be done as single 5-year stage. Thus a Bachelors + Masters under the new system is viewed as equivalent to the single stage in the old system, but the bachelor's itself has no equivalent. American Bachelors degrees are 4 years, so right in the middle, but are often judged to be equivalent to a European Bachelors degree.

Your son may be suffering a bit from "square peg, round hole" syndrome. He might have more luck if he addresses this potential issue a bit in his cover letter and focuses on larger, more multinational employers who are more skilled at dealing with people of different backgrounds. Alternatively, he could get a swiss master's degree which would be easier for them to understand.

Good luck!
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Old 30.03.2015, 04:13
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

Oh, Susan57 that must be frustrating for your son, being in that strange Young Person’s gap, that weird place from which potential employers expect working experience, but no-one seems to be willing to give him any.

Here are some ideas:
1. Tailoring, or "Customizing", as 3Wishes calls it

I definitely second the suggestion, above, that he tailor every single application. Before he sends anything to a potential employer, he should have read up all about them, including, if he can get hold of them, info on specific projects they are now running, or at least sub-sets of the field. A new graduate is, per se, something of a generalist, and if he can write his c.v. and his covering letter to express interest in the specific science/technology/development(s) of that particular company, and weight compatible aspects, he is more likely to appeal to the person receiving his application. This is not fake, and he should always stick to the truth, but it is worth emphasising those parts of his his true skills/knowledge which correspond to the company’s needs. If there is a specific job advertised, then he should do this exercise twice over, as it were, once for the company’s general line, and a further tailoring for every single requirement and nice-to-have in the job ad.

2. Getting his foot in the door of "every pharma/bio/chem/university lab across switzerland/EU" as swisspea puts it

One way to do this is to ask a person more experienced in his field, for advice. Most people don’t mind telling a younger, totally non-threatening person how they made it into their job. Some do it because it flatters their own egos, others do it out of genuine admiration for a young person who is putting his/her best foot forward.
Finding those people?
Ditto the kind of research above, and then read all about that project manager/ scientist, etc., including everything he/she has ever published, and press about their current focus.
Then your son could mail and say that, having been sparked by the scientist’s journal article about x, he also read y and z, and would like to know if he could please have an appointment with him, to ask him a bit more about his work, and for some advice as he is shaping his own career. His interest can be in the pure science, or in the practicalities of the lab, or the IT systems used, or the budgeting… whatever that expert can do, and about which your son has make the effort to get informed.

If no response comes from the mail, follow up one week later, with a phonecall. If the expert will speak to him, remind the expert of the mail. Your son should have it all lined up, so if the person your son is calling can’t recall the email, he could offer to re-send right away, while they are talking. He could then ask if he may please have an hour of the expert’s time, any time he is available. If he is met with a yes, take ANY slot the expert has. If no, ask if someone else in the company/institution might have time.

Okay, so if he is actually let in the door, he should express gratitude that he is allows some of their valuable time. Explain the purpose: I’m interested in what you are doing, and I’m also looking for all sorts of advice about how to get started, how to enter the field as a new graduate who is really prepared to work very hard. Be sure to have his facts at hand, and ask intelligent questions about what they really do, there. That’s the first 20 minutes.

Express gratitude again, but don’t gush or grovel. In the next 15 minutes, try to get the expert to talk about him/herself. Where did they grow up, have they lived abroad, what kinds of schools, colleges, universities did they attend, do they have other secondary qualifications besides in their field, in which kinds of institutions/companies have they worked, and how did they get there, what were the steps from school to this senior position?

Next 20 minutes: please, what would you advise me? I’m a few years younger than you, or even if we're the same age, you've somehow already made it, and I’m trying to get going. I’m in that strange place where I don’t have experience, but every job requires it of me. Do you think there are other people in your company, or in any professional network you’re in, who would give me their view, as you just did? Might you offer a workshop or a practical, here? Even if it is a short-term project, is there some way I could participate, here, for a day or two, or a week or two, to help you out with some specific task? If you have no immediate need, might you let me come into your premises for a week or so, and get to tag along in various processes? Perhaps, if you have apprentices here, that could be a bit of an interesting task for them, to show me around, and teach me how this company works. If your company can’t, can you think of somewhere else I could try?

Last 5 minutes: thanks very much! I’d like to send you my c.v. next week, after I’ve thought through everything you’ve said. If the expert says: no, we definitely have no posts, and do NOT send your c.v. now, accept this, and simply write, a week later, to thank him/her very much for the interesting conversation (and make this email SPECIFIC, referring to something the expert said). Then flag a date 6 months from today, to send the – updated – c.v. with an I-think-you-will-remember-me and this-is-what-I’ve-done since then covering letter.

He should jot down any main points, and as soon as he leaves the expert's office, immediately write down everything he can possibly remember of what the expert said. If the young man had preprepared and asked specific questions, that would help him recall the info. Especially he should note anything that surprised him... that's the bit he's learning. Later, he can compare what several experts said, and maybe there's a pattern in there, which can help him know and feel what to do next.


Repeat Step 2. (willing to do it in German, move to English only if the expert prefers it) until at least half-a-dozen experts have let him in. That will probably mean that 20 or 50 others turn him down because they are too busy, or disinterested.
By the time he has read up about that many institutes/companies dotted all over Switzerland, he will have a much, much better feel for the areas of specific skills or maybe even of his own interests, and what is going on in The Scene in his field, in Switzerland.
By the time the young man has seen several experts, he will have much better interview skills!
And maybe, maybe, one of them will let him in, to tag along, to work on a project (as a practical, with little or no pay, for a few weeks), or for actual real salaried work.
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Old 30.03.2015, 11:09
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

I second the return to graduate school, especially since it is dirt cheap here, as compared to the US.

He's young enough that he'll have the energy, but old enough to have greater discipline, and focus. He'll also have plenty of peers to work with.

good luck.
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Old 30.03.2015, 14:59
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Re: Jobs: Int'l School diploma, US Bachelor not enough?

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Is it true, one MUST get a Master's degree to qualify for a job in this area!
Yes. Actually probably a PhD as well.
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