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Old 21.04.2011, 00:55
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Tips on where to find useful work experience near Bern

Hi there,

I would be extremely grateful for any constructive comments (even disheartening ones) from anybody who knows about working as an English-speaker in Switzerland!

I am a gap year student from England, with offers to study PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at several good universities in the UK. My main reason for taking a gap year was that it would enable me to experience working life in a variety of employment areas, giving me a much better idea of how to structure my studies towards an enjoyable career as a graduate.

As such, I was very lucky in securing a temporary summer work placement at one of the major accountancy firms in the UK. Unfortunately, however, due to personal reasons/family commitments, it has become imperative that I stay close to my parents’ home in Bern for the next few months at least!

Having had to move home at such short notice has obviously left me with no employment for the summer, and this will have a big impact not only on my ability to afford my studies next year, but more importantly on my knowledge of which areas I enjoy working in. As a confident and experienced German speaker (good understanding of Schwyzerdeutsch, preparing for the C2 exam in Hochdeutsch), I have been very lucky in finding work in Bars/Café’s/on construction sites, however this will really not help me to develop any skills which will be helpful in future jobs!

I understand that the market for temporary English-speaking admin. Assistants/aids/secretaries without a degree is not exactly booming, however any suggestions/advice would be most gratefully received!
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Old 23.04.2011, 09:31
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Re: Tips on where to find useful work experience near Bern

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I have been very lucky in finding work in Bars/Café’s/on construction sites, however this will really not help me to develop any skills which will be helpful in future jobs!
I wouldn't condemn such jobs out of hand like that.

Many of the skills I apply day to day in my job as a teacher I acquired working outside of education, in shops, parks and factories.

I learnt the importance of customer relations (you'd be shocked at how many people in education haven't the first idea of such things), how to maintain a calm and smiling front when all is going to pot around me, how to ignore bosses when it suits and pay attention when it suits, and all sorts of other things about which I'd never have had the first clue if I hadn't done these kinds of jobs.

If nothing else, you can look back in several years' time and say, with a smile, "Well, this job might be a bit difficult at times, but at least I don't work at XXXXXX any more."

All work experience is valuable, even screwing tops on bottles in a factory. Don't turn down an opportunity because you believe it will not furnish you with relevant experience. It will - just not in the way you might have intended!
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Old 23.04.2011, 09:39
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Re: Tips on where to find useful work experience near Bern

OP, what is your permit situation? Just not clear on whether you might be Swiss, English, or both.


As for this...
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Maybe you don't like the answer, but that is the situation, and you should have seen it.
...why the smug tone?
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Old 23.04.2011, 11:29
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Re: Tips on where to find useful work experience near Bern

Hello OP,

I note now I have seen the full title is work "near Bern" - I still considered somewhere like Zurich when writing my email as "near Bern" although possibly not ideal I don't know your full situation.

I haven't any personal experience directly related to your experience but I feel a little more positive for you than what I have read so far. Although you may not "be let free on any companies accounts" just yet, I would think you stand at least a chance of employment in the financial sector which would at least tie in a little to the area of work which you suggest you will look into in future.

A few things in your favour - when I was looking for a job I saw a lot of internship positions, there are more of these than in the UK I have found due to the structure of the employment / education system here. Although not going to a Swiss institution you may still stand a chance. Your strong German along with your English mother tongue will be a great asset - really highlight your language ability. I am thinking UBS / CS as companies where I have seen internship positions before.

I would try and avoid mentioning things that highlight that you intend not to return to Switzerland as I think as others have pointed out this is a strong negative point. What is it your permit situation as another poster has asked - I can see that you have already been working here so is it a B permit?. Maybe you could though look at a few of the big companies that have offices in the UK and Switzerland, you could spin it that you want to return to the UK office afterwards and this may work out in your favor.

It isn't the end of the world taking other roles and as other posters states, all job experience is good experience, you just need to sell it to others on your CV at a later date. I have sold ferry tickets in the past and this has given me great experience in dealing with difficult customers (and other good points) but doesn't directly relate to anything I have done since.

To sum up, widen your search to the whole of the financial sector (I have suggested this due to you stating about the accountancy firm and possibly this is a direction you wish to take) and you may find something that is of more interest to you and possibly tie in with moving back to the UK. Financially you may not get great money and would involve traveling to another Swiss city other than Bern (I have a collegue who managed traveling daily from outside of Bern to Zurich for a period of 6 months - so can be done).

Best of luck and don't give up, finding employment here is a harder / slower process than in the UK as you probably have already found out!

Last edited by a.j.b; 23.04.2011 at 11:34. Reason: adding in details : RE Bern
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