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Old 04.10.2016, 21:31
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English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

Hi all,

I'm a dual American-Dutch citizen relocating to Switzerland in December. I'm in my senior year of studies of Civil Engineering and taking my last classes online in the Spring. I'm trying to find a job/internship for when I arrive with no luck. I only speak English at this time, although I am slowly learning German. Anyone have any tips/places to look?
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Old 04.10.2016, 22:02
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

Welcome to the forum. Try some of these links.

https://www.englishforum.ch/employme...itzerland.html

Also

www.jobs.ch
www.jobup.ch
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Old 05.10.2016, 01:28
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

You are still studying so that might be the reason. For internships you might have to ask directly to engineering firms.
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Old 05.10.2016, 01:49
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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You are still studying so that might be the reason. For internships you might have to ask directly to engineering firms.
In the states where I'm living now I'm already working while going to school with pretty reasonable pay, so I was hoping for something along those lines. I've contacted a few engineering firms directly, but no luck. I was hoping to at minimum set up an interview for when I arrive in December, but I'm starting to think the only way I may have any luck is once I'm physically there and can go to firms and introduce myself.
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Old 05.10.2016, 09:04
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

Hi Michelle,
I think it might be difficult to find work without one of the languages spoken in Switzerland. I see quite a lot of jobs advertised in your field but most of these are in German...I live is the German speaking part so I don't check the french or Italian language postings.
You will be competing with Swiss graduates who will probably have pretty good english so my advice is to concentrate on German. Also, as far as I know, if you see a job advertised in German, your application should be in German too.
Good luck
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Old 05.10.2016, 10:19
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

May I ask on what basis you're relocating? Granted, as a Dutch citizen (assuming you'll be using your Dutch passport and not the American one), you can do what you want, but what makes you move here if you have no job?

As always, three things to understand
a) Switzerland has a slow labor market, at least compared to that of the US (with both advantages and disadvantages of course). Prepare to submit dozens of CVs before even landing an interview (especially since you won't be first choice, see point b). It's quite normal for even highly qualified people who tick all boxes on certain jobs to look for one for months on end.

b) not speaking the language will be a big disadvantage. Maybe not a dealbreaker, but a disadvantage, especially as you have little work experience to make up for it (by that I mean 5+ years full-time). You're not looking for senior positions where you might be able to get away with just English (if in a larger company). I don't see how you could survive on English only in a small company, and I'm not sure the "introducing yourself" will do any good in big companies, but well, guess it's worth a try.

c) I keep hearing there's a shortage of engineers, but its a broad field and I'm not sure if civil engineering is part of the shortage. At any rate, entry-level jobs will be far and few between and there's plenty of graduates (who also speak the language) looking for a job. You will not just be competing with Swiss, but essentially half of Europe. Also note that pretty much everyone in that field here studies to Master level. Not sure if you're an undergrad or a graduate (I'm assuming the former), so that will be another disadvantage.

d) make sure on your CV that you are a Dutch and as such an EU citizen. Also adapt your CV to Swiss standards, at least if you're applying to smaller companies. And yes, there are significant differences to how Americans write CVs. Large MNCs won't care that much though.

e) if you can afford it, try to get an internship. Even if it won't lead into a permanent job, at least you can gather a little bit of experience. Points a-d still apply though

You may think this all sounds negative, but as usual here, you need to have realistic expectations. It's not impossible to find a job, but it will probably be very hard.
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Old 05.10.2016, 10:45
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

A couple of things to be aware of once you're outside of the US. First is that you will still have US tax filing obligations no matter where you live in the world. Start researching that here:

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/inte...-aliens-abroad

Also, due to the US's FATCA law, you will find it difficult to get a bank account here. Your choices are pretty much limited to UBS, Credit Suisse and PostFinance - maybe Migrosbank, not sure about them. You will need to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to pass your account info on to the IRS, no signed form no account. If at any time of the year your foreign, i.e. outside of US, account/s comes to an aggregate figure of more than $10,000 then this will also need to be reported on an FBAR form.

This doesn't just apply to Switzerland, it applies to the whole world. Welcome to the world of Americans abroad.

And don't think of not telling your potential bank here about your American taint. Non-disclosure would be seen as a wilfull act and could result in any opened account being frozen or even closed.
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Old 05.10.2016, 11:07
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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In the states where I'm living now I'm already working while going to school with pretty reasonable pay, so I was hoping for something along those lines. I've contacted a few engineering firms directly, but no luck. I was hoping to at minimum set up an interview for when I arrive in December, but I'm starting to think the only way I may have any luck is once I'm physically there and can go to firms and introduce myself.
To be very blunt, what use are you if you can't speak the language ? To add to this, there will be different practices used in the US to Europe, even to Switzerland, the US you use an imperial system, here we use metric.

It is highly unlikely you'll be much use to anybody and margins are so squeezed at present time, there is not time for people who cannot work at 100% of capacity.

Sorry to break your bubble, but this is the reality of your situation.
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Old 05.10.2016, 11:13
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

I'm in a similar situation although i'm older with good experience in Civil Engineering. We moved here in April and I have sent out only about 10 CV's as I have been immersed in trying to learn German. I have completed A-1 and A-2 and am going to ramp up my search. Are there any suggestions for companies that can "Swiss" my CV?
I've heard a lot of the comments on here already and would like to at least get something moving in the right direction. I'm guessing my CV isn't done to Swiss standards for style.
Thanks and good luck to anyone looking for a job!
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Old 05.10.2016, 12:13
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

To locate CV/ resume writing services, you might wish to google on "bewerbungsschreiben hilfe zürich".

There is also a job application and CV writing service in Zurich staffed by volunteers. This appears to be the link describing this service:

https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/sd/de/i...eibdienst.html
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Old 05.10.2016, 13:48
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

Vielen Dank!
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Old 05.10.2016, 16:40
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

I appreciate all the comments! And while it is a long shot, I'm still continuing my search. I don't "need" to work immediately and would take a low paying job/internship as I'll be living with my grandmother. I just got out of an abusive relationship and am leaving with my daughter to get away. So, yes, I am pretty realistic with my expectations and although I would love to continue with engineering, I realize that it will more than likely not be the job I first get until I am more in tune with Swiss language, standards, etc.
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Old 05.10.2016, 19:04
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

My husband is a dual CH/German citizen, he is an engineer ETH and works in the building business.

But he would most likely not be hired in Austria or Germany because the building laws and norms are quite different and he would be of almost no use to a company before he'd have himself totally familiarized with the local processes and norms.

Why would somebody take you as an intern? You'd be of no use and as such burden to a company, bluntly spoken. They don't like to squander money.

It is competitive over here and even Swiss Engineers have to search for jobs.

As I take it you are studying towards a bachelors? This counts next to nothing over here, you are expected to have a masters.

A swiss masters in engineering could be a door-opener for you. There even might be some taught in English - you'd have to google - but your German must also be good. Start learning.

Wish you luck!
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Old 05.10.2016, 19:43
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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But he would most likely not be hired in Austria or Germany because the building laws and norms are quite different and he would be of almost no use to a company before he'd have himself totally familiarized with the local processes and norms.

As I take it you are studying towards a bachelors? This counts next to nothing over here, you are expected to have a masters.

A swiss masters in engineering could be a door-opener for you. There even might be some taught in English - you'd have to google - but your German must also be good. Start learning.

Wish you luck!
I don't agree with some of the detail in the above based on my knowledge of the industry (I work as a civil/structural engineer). A swiss (german) speaking civil engineer would not struggle that much to get a job in Austria or Germany. The construction techniques are similar, the mother tongue is the same, all 3 countries are metric and its very likely that a swiss engineer will have been exposed to either or both of the DIN or eurocodes. The localised differences in building regulations would not be difficult to get up to speed on.
However its likely none of that is applicable to US engineer that doesn't speak the language.

Regarding the bachelor; perhaps for a swiss engineering graduate that is regarded as "next to nothing", although I think that is putting it way too strongly. Alot of my colleagues (granted in other engineering disciplines) started out as an apprentice and then in their 20s went to college and did a bachelor programme as opposed to a masters.

For Michelle, without German, without knowledge of the SIA or Eurocodes and without post graduate experience, it will be very difficult to source work and not having a masters won't help.
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Old 05.10.2016, 19:55
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

In reading back my post I am reminded of a meme that said;

Arguing with an engineer is like fighting a pig in the mud,
after a few hours you realise they enjoy it.

So the gist of what Marischi said is more or less valid.
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Old 05.10.2016, 20:01
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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My husband is a dual CH/German citizen, he is an engineer ETH and works in the building business.

But he would most likely not be hired in Austria or Germany because the building laws and norms are quite different and he would be of almost no use to a company before he'd have himself totally familiarized with the local processes and norms.

Why would somebody take you as an intern? You'd be of no use and as such burden to a company, bluntly spoken. They don't like to squander money.

It is competitive over here and even Swiss Engineers have to search for jobs.

As I take it you are studying towards a bachelors? This counts next to nothing over here, you are expected to have a masters.

A swiss masters in engineering could be a door-opener for you. There even might be some taught in English - you'd have to google - but your German must also be good. Start learning.

Wish you luck!
I appreciate the bluntness, honestly. In America, my first internship I had no experience under my belt and I started by working AutoCad drafting. From there, I started to see plans learn the verbiage, technical codes, etc. I was hoping to go this route where I start at an engineering firm but not necessarily doing the engineering right away and learn German while doing so. I plan on getting my Masters. I'm accepted into an American Uni online but I'd prefer to learn German and then apply at a Swiss University. I'm just worried to be out of work for a little while while I'm learning German.
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Old 05.10.2016, 20:31
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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...my first internship I had no experience under my belt and I started by working AutoCad drafting...
Unfortunately as others have said, you've been trained in a different system. All the laws/codes you'd need to know are not only different, they're in a language you can't understand. This would make it rather difficult to market yourself, even as an intern.

If you're set on staying in engineering, consider applying to university here for your next degree. Then you can learn the system used here as well as the local language, which would help make you market yourself better. Uni tuition costs here are far less expensive than in the U.S. although the cost of living is higher.

By the way, if you haven't had a wander around the Forum, there are plenty of good ideas for jobs for English-only speakers, and jobs for those who don't have skills or the "right" skills to land the job they truly want. These are just a few to start:

[Swiss Job market] English-Speaking Companies

English speaking companies + Web Sites for job searchers in Switzerland

Salaries in Switzerland - These and other questions answered before you ask!

Read This Before You Even Think About Posting in Employment!!

Here are a couple of others you might find helpful:

Jobs which require no German?

where to look for jobs with no job qualifications

Good luck!
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Old 05.10.2016, 20:38
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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Unfortunately as others have said, you've been trained in a different system. All the laws/codes you'd need to know are not only different, they're in a language you can't understand. This would make it rather difficult to market yourself, even as an intern.

If you're set on staying in engineering, consider applying to university here for your next degree. Then you can learn the system used here as well as the local language, which would help make you market yourself better. Uni tuition costs here are far less expensive than in the U.S. although the cost of living is higher.

By the way, if you haven't had a wander around the Forum, there are plenty of good ideas for jobs for English-only speakers, and jobs for those who don't have skills or the "right" skills to land the job they truly want. These are just a few to start:

[Swiss Job market] English-Speaking Companies

English speaking companies + Web Sites for job searchers in Switzerland

Salaries in Switzerland - These and other questions answered before you ask!

Read This Before You Even Think About Posting in Employment!!

Here are a couple of others you might find helpful:

Jobs which require no German?

where to look for jobs with no job qualifications

Good luck!
Oh yes I definitely understand the major difference in codes from Country to Country. I meant more along the lines that I have no issue starting again from the bottom. I'd be happy scanning plans and delivering coffee at a firm. I will take a look at those links though. I appreciate that!
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Old 05.10.2016, 22:41
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

Delivering coffee? The Swiss have espresso machines in their office and make their coffee, lattes and such all by themselves :-) Sorry to trash another dream ... but I like your spunk!

Small input about the Swiss system: My nephew - he's 16 - is an apprentice and does - among other things - CAD for his office. Most offices have apprentices - they go to school two days a week and do all that stuff when at the office and also get some money for that. When he finishes his apprenticeship when he's 18, he will be a heating planner and will earn a good wage.

After an apprenticeship, you can go to Uni or Fachhochschule and do some further studies.

Get a look at the Swiss system here:https://swisseducation.educa.ch/en/v...and-training-0

Last edited by marischi; 05.10.2016 at 23:02.
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Old 05.10.2016, 23:03
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Re: English Speaking Civil/Structural Engineering Jobs

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Delivering coffee? The Swiss have espresso machines in their office and make their coffee, lattes and such all by themselves :-) Sorry to trash another dream ... but I like your spunk!
Well there goes that! I wouldn't even be able to work the machines - instructions are probably in German hahaha
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