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Old 01.11.2016, 23:16
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Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right place but I have some questions to ask.
I'm from Greece, I am currently studying Accounting and Finance and my goal is to work in Switzerland some day.

The problem is that all unis here are unknown to the outside world, there are no greek universities in the top 100 european universities for accounting.
Will this make it too difficult for me, even if I know the language of the canton I want to go?

Plus, things are so bad here that none of the Big 4 are hiring, so my experience would be from some small unknown firm.

I read somewhere that junior accountants were in demand in Switzerland but that sounds dubious to me, there is no way there are no unemployed swiss accountants.
I hope I am wrong tho...

Should I lower my expectations, or is it doable?
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Old 01.11.2016, 23:24
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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my goal is to work in Switzerland some day.
Why?

Quote:
The problem is that all unis here are unknown to the outside world, there are no greek universities in the top 100 european universities for accounting.
Will this make it too difficult for me, even if I know the language of the canton I want to go?
No. No one cares about the reputation of a university, save for maybe a handful of companies.

The only bit that is relevant is whether your degree is fully recognized as such. And you'd be surprised to hear that very often, that is not the case, no, not even from within the EU. Which means you may well have to retake some courses at a university here.

Granted, since you're EU, you can bypass that by just applying to jobs and most people sourcing CVs (or interviewing for that matter) have so little idea about the university landscape that they'll go for anything that reads "Bachelors" or "Masters", independent of whether it's actually worth anything or not.

Quote:
I read somewhere that junior accountants were in demand in Switzerland but that sounds dubious to me, there is no way there are no unemployed swiss accountants.
Not that I know of.

Also, just to add two aspects:
a) on entry-level, near-fluent knowledge of a local language is pretty much mandatory, unless in some (not all) of the big multinationals
b) the large majority of Swiss who go to uni study to Masters level so if you want to really compete, a Bachelors won't do.
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Old 01.11.2016, 23:31
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

Of course, it's doable. Whether it will be easy or not is another matter. First you would need to have your qualifications recognised by this organisation:

Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOA)
Case postale 6023
CH-3001 Bern
T +41 31 560 22 22

You'd need to speak a Swiss language fluently I guess, although it may depend on what areas of finance you want to work in.

Where are you in your studies? If at Bachelors, consider doing your Masters at a Swiss university. That would give you more kudos when it comes to hiring.

Bear in mind that the Swiss are looking for ways to cut back on immigration from EU countries so whatever they decide to do on that front may affect your plans.
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Old 02.11.2016, 00:05
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

I work for a Big4 and we hire non Swiss trainees including some who don't speak German/French. We just care if you can get a permit or not.

But you have to realise that not being able to speak the local language limits what clients you can work on and what qualifications you can study towards. In audit you're basically defaulting to large, international and mainly US listed clients.

In terms of qualifications, if you don't speak German or French well enough to pass exams in, you're doing ACCA. If that's fine you could do worse than finish your BA and apply for such trainee positions.
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Old 02.11.2016, 00:14
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Bear in mind that the Swiss are looking for ways to cut back on immigration from EU countries so whatever they decide to do on that front may affect your plans.
Medea they won't
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Old 02.11.2016, 01:06
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Why?
Many different reasons, although I know that it isn't a utopia or anything.
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No. No one cares about the reputation of a university, save for maybe a handful of companies.

The only bit that is relevant is whether your degree is fully recognized as such. And you'd be surprised to hear that very often, that is not the case, no, not even from within the EU. Which means you may well have to retake some courses at a university here.

Granted, since you're EU, you can bypass that by just applying to jobs and most people sourcing CVs (or interviewing for that matter) have so little idea about the university landscape that they'll go for anything that reads "Bachelors" or "Masters", independent of whether it's actually worth anything or not.

Well, the universities here don't give "bachelor's", but I think that they are considered equal to the british degrees. Then again, this is greece, I won't be surprised if they are not recognized.

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I work for a Big4 and we hire non Swiss trainees including some who don't speak German/French. We just care if you can get a permit or not.

But you have to realise that not being able to speak the local language limits what clients you can work on and what qualifications you can study towards. In audit you're basically defaulting to large, international and mainly US listed clients.

In terms of qualifications, if you don't speak German or French well enough to pass exams in, you're doing ACCA. If that's fine you could do worse than finish your BA and apply for such trainee positions.

How exactly does this work?
Could I do my internship in a swiss Big 4?

Also, the reason I started having doubts was because the swiss Big 4 were asking for a "bachelors and master's from a top university" in their requirements, so I thought that they may have really high standards.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 02.11.2016 at 12:06. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 02.11.2016, 08:31
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOA)
Case postale 6023
CH-3001 Bern
T +41 31 560 22 22

You'd need to speak a Swiss language fluently I guess, although it may depend on what areas of finance you want to work in.

Where are you in your studies? If at Bachelors, consider doing your Masters at a Swiss university.
The FAOA mutual recognition exam is multiple choice and presented in English, as is the preparation course. And is only necessary if you are required to sign audit reports in your own name.

Big 4 accounting firms have very exacting standards of education to be achieved at university entrance level exams such as the matura and primary degree level. Masters have very little impact since the accounting qualification is a masters!
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Old 02.11.2016, 16:45
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right place but I have some questions to ask.
I'm from Greece, I am currently studying Accounting and Finance and my goal is to work in Switzerland some day.

The problem is that all unis here are unknown to the outside world, there are no greek universities in the top 100 european universities for accounting.
Will this make it too difficult for me, even if I know the language of the canton I want to go?

Plus, things are so bad here that none of the Big 4 are hiring, so my experience would be from some small unknown firm.

I read somewhere that junior accountants were in demand in Switzerland but that sounds dubious to me, there is no way there are no unemployed swiss accountants.
I hope I am wrong tho...

Should I lower my expectations, or is it doable?
It's doable for sure.

However, if I were you, I would do a Masters at reputable Swiss or British university before applying for jobs in Switzerland. Not that your degree from Greece is a problem, but it will definitely put you in a better position for Swiss jobs.

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Why?
Because Greece is broke? Because graduates don't find a job? Because the average salary for a young professional is less than 1000 euros? Do you read international news or just those about Switzerland?

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No. No one cares about the reputation of a university, save for maybe a handful of companies.

What? As far as I know, many Swiss companies DO care about the university reputation, that being Swiss or international. Banks, consulting, big four, commodities trading, etc., the first thing they check is your degree. I personally know non-EUs who were basically invited for interviews mostly because they were MBAs from top schools from the US & UK.

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The only bit that is relevant is whether your degree is fully recognized as such. And you'd be surprised to hear that very often, that is not the case, no, not even from within the EU. Which means you may well have to retake some courses at a university here.
I might be wrong but that seems to be a problem for specific areas such as medicine. For example, in accounting most of the accreditations are internationals and in engineering it's not a problem in a big company since there will be a supervisor/manager/whatever who will sign as the "responsible" engineer.

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Granted, since you're EU, you can bypass that by just applying to jobs and most people sourcing CVs (or interviewing for that matter) have so little idea about the university landscape that they'll go for anything that reads "Bachelors" or "Masters", independent of whether it's actually worth anything or not.

Not that I know of.

Also, just to add two aspects:
a) on entry-level, near-fluent knowledge of a local language is pretty much mandatory, unless in some (not all) of the big multinationals
b) the large majority of Swiss who go to uni study to Masters level so if you want to really compete, a Bachelors won't do.
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Of course, it's doable. Whether it will be easy or not is another matter. First you would need to have your qualifications recognised by this organisation:

Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOA)
Case postale 6023
CH-3001 Bern
T +41 31 560 22 22

You'd need to speak a Swiss language fluently I guess, although it may depend on what areas of finance you want to work in.

Where are you in your studies? If at Bachelors, consider doing your Masters at a Swiss university. That would give you more kudos when it comes to hiring.

Bear in mind that the Swiss are looking for ways to cut back on immigration from EU countries so whatever they decide to do on that front may affect your plans.
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Medea they won't
What they will do then?
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Old 02.11.2016, 16:54
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Why?
Why not?

Is it that abnormal that a person wants to work and live in Switzerland? Or is it only a privilege for people like yourselves that are are already here?? Not quite sure what you are pointing at?
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Old 02.11.2016, 18:17
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

Dudes, chill

This is about many people coming here, dreaming of the land of milk and honey, having a view of this country that is simply not accurate. Better to get a reality check right away. It's only valid to ask someone why they are interested in coming here rather than any other place in Europe (or elsewhere). Especially cause every week, there's plenty of people here complaining about the very things they could have foreseen, had they not had a romanticised view of this place. Simple, really.

Quote:
What? As far as I know, many Swiss companies DO care about the university reputation, that being Swiss or international. Banks, consulting, big four, commodities trading, etc., the first thing they check is your degree. I personally know non-EUs who were basically invited for interviews mostly because they were MBAs from top schools from the US & UK.
Well whether only some "top school"-MBAs can do certain jobs or not remains an open question.

However, on the level of your average joe, no one cares whether the degree is from Columbia or the University of Athens. As I said, save for a few exceptions and as also said, the majority of sourcers/recruiters or line managers for that matter have not the faintest clue about which universities are good and which are not. Not the least because "good" is really quite relative and aside from having a fancy brand, the Harvards of the world are no better than many universities elsewhere in the world.

Swiss companies, in general, don't care much. Swiss subsidiaries of some US/UK company, well sometimes. See mention of exceptions above. But in that case, the companies who care won't be an option cause he doesn't have that fancy degree.


Quote:
I might be wrong but that seems to be a problem for specific areas such as medicine. For example, in accounting most of the accreditations are internationals and in engineering it's not a problem in a big company since there will be a supervisor/manager/whatever who will sign as the "responsible" engineer.
It's not necessarily a problem, see above plus previous comment. Doesn't mean that the degree is indeed equivalent. But chances are it simply won't matter much.
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Old 02.11.2016, 18:28
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Especially cause every week, there's plenty of people here complaining about the very things they could have foreseen, had they not had a romanticised view of this place. Simple, really.
Really??

I've never seen such a thread.
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Old 02.11.2016, 19:06
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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I'm from Greece, I am currently studying Accounting and Finance and my goal is to work in Switzerland some day.

.....

Plus, things are so bad here that none of the Big 4 are hiring, so my experience would be from some small unknown firm.
There are a few things I would suggest considering:

First of all give a call to each of the big 4 accounting firms in Greece and talk their HR people, find out which colleges and qualifications they favour when they are recruiting. And considering getting a primary qualification there. (when you apply to a big 4 office abroad they will seek local office opinion on you, if they are unsure of your situation)

Once you have the qualification, apply to do your training with big 4 offices in Switzerland or the EU as all national qualifications have mutual recognition options.

If you strike out there the seek a local Greek firm (don't worry about the size) and do SOEL/ICAEW or SOEL/ACCA qualification. And apply to the big 4 offices after qualification. Most big 4 offices are interested in pick up newly qualifieds to replace their own training staff who exit after qualification.

I would not be concerned about the Chartered Accountant (IACEW) qualification, if it breaks badly in the BREXIT, you can switch to an Irish one, which will still have EU recognition - because the law is more or less the same there is a British Isles agreement to allow members to 'swap' qualifications which is EU independent (not the same as mutual recognition).

Also work on learning at least one of the Swiss national languages to at lease B2 at the same time.
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Old 02.11.2016, 19:06
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Why not?

Is it that abnormal that a person wants to work and live in Switzerland? Or is it only a privilege for people like yourselves that are are already here?? Not quite sure what you are pointing at?
+1.
Actually, asking "why?" in such a context is pretty surreal.
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Old 02.11.2016, 19:24
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Because Greece is broke? Because graduates don't find a job? Because the average salary for a young professional is less than 1000 euros? Do you read international news or just those about Switzerland?

Yeah, the situation here is beyond terrible.
Youth unemployment is 60% percent, I have no idea how I am supposed to get a job...
And if I get one it will be about $700/month, haha...

And it's not like the cost of living here is lower, everything we import costs the same as all the other EU countries.

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There are a few things I would suggest considering:

First of all give a call to each of the big 4 accounting firms in Greece and talk their HR people, find out which colleges and qualifications they favour when they are recruiting. And considering getting a primary qualification there. (when you apply to a big 4 office abroad they will seek local office opinion on you, if they are unsure of your situation)

Once you have the qualification, apply to do your training with big 4 offices in Switzerland or the EU as all national qualifications have mutual recognition options.

If you strike out there the seek a local Greek firm (don't worry about the size) and do SOEL/ICAEW or SOEL/ACCA qualification. And apply to the big 4 offices after qualification. Most big 4 offices are interested in pick up newly qualifieds to replace their own training staff who exit after qualification.

I would not be concerned about the Chartered Accountant (IACEW) qualification, if it breaks badly in the BREXIT, you can switch to an Irish one, which will still have EU recognition - because the law is more or less the same there is a British Isles agreement to allow members to 'swap' qualifications which is EU independent (not the same as mutual recognition).

Also work on learning at least one of the Swiss national languages to at lease B2 at the same time.
That sounds like solid advice, thanks.

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Dudes, chill

This is about many people coming here, dreaming of the land of milk and honey, having a view of this country that is simply not accurate. Better to get a reality check right away. It's only valid to ask someone why they are interested in coming here rather than any other place in Europe (or elsewhere). Especially cause every week, there's plenty of people here complaining about the very things they could have foreseen, had they not had a romanticised view of this place. Simple, really.
Well, out of all the english speaking and german speaking countries in europe switzerland is arguably the best.
I'm not saying that it's the best country in the world, the nordic countries are pretty amazing too.
I have other reasons as well, besides standards of living , but I think it makes sense as to why someone would prefer to live in switzerland rather than the UK for example.
But yeah, I'm trying to keep my expectations to a realistic level.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 02.11.2016 at 21:21. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 06.11.2016, 19:07
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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How exactly does this work?
Could I do my internship in a swiss Big 4?

Also, the reason I started having doubts was because the swiss Big 4 were asking for a "bachelors and master's from a top university" in their requirements, so I thought that they may have really high standards.
I don't know how immigration works for internships - I am not aware that we have any interns who did not live in CH to start out with.

The thing you have to recognise about any kind of job application process is that you will NEVER be offered a job if you don't apply. If you are concerned about your institution's reputation you still apply because even if you're kicked out in the first round you're no worse off. And there is a good chance that you get put through to the next step of the process.

I have known our HR department to put through applicants to the interview stage who were failing their degrees because they didn't spot/bother to follow up on the fact that the individual had only provided outdated exam results. It was down to the interviewer to force them to follow up. So in theory people get kicked out of the process if they don't meet formal criteria but in practice it very much depends on the individual who happens to pick up an application.

As for work experience - in my experience individuals who have spent time at work and know how to conduct themselves at work have clear advantages over those who haven't. This doesn't even have to be professional work experience. It is more important that people can demonstrate a good attitude and willingness to get stuck in. If you have actually worked in a business or professional environment so much the better. But you have to sell these things in the application process.

Somebody who gets stuck in and is willing to learn (and do even basic tasks, initially) is much preferable to somebody who thinks that is beneath them because they are a HSG graduate. Clearly many graduates from that fine institution make excellent jr team members but some need an attitude adjustment...

Also, from some of our more recent hires from Greece (who effectively transferred from our Athens practice to our Swiss practice) I get the impression that there may be a tendency to sell yourselves short. This may be due to years of gloomy economic outlook and what that has done to the outlook of your generation. But do yourself a favour and believe that you have at least as much right to be considered as anybody else. If you don't you're sabotaging yourself
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Old 07.11.2016, 07:56
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

Your degree is probably good enough if you are a student in one of the big universities. There are lots of engineers and doctors with Greek degrees who are currently working in Switzerland and get great salaries. However, accounting is a profession I am not familiar with, so I don't have any specific recommendations!

Just a "generic" piece of advice: Start reading magazines and newspapers (at least the online content) of your branch in Switzerland, just to get a sense of who is who!
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Old 07.11.2016, 08:48
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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This is about many people coming here, dreaming of the land of milk and honey, having a view of this country that is simply not accurate. Better to get a reality check right away.
Compared to the UK and almost all other EU countries, this IS the land of milk and honey. Maybe it's you who needs a reality check.
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Old 07.11.2016, 10:23
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Compared to the UK and almost all other EU countries, this IS the land of milk and honey. Maybe it's you who needs a reality check.
Fair enough. But then later don't complain that everything is so expensive, or that their contract was terminated (and they want to "sue") or that not everyone can find a new job within a week
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Old 07.11.2016, 10:30
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Re: Importance of a good degree for finding work in Switzerland

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Fair enough. But then later don't complain that everything is so expensive, or that their contract was terminated (and they want to "sue") or that not everyone can find a new job within a week
There will always be exceptions, and those expats are only a comparatively small minority of highly vocal dissatisfied individuals, many of which don't help their own cause through lack of realism and basic common sense. The vast majority of people function in CH just fine, and appreciate the world-class quality of life they have.

That aspirational quality of life is the main reason a lot of people want to come to Switzerland.
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