The Hundred Club
War forced lawyer Heba Hamour to abandon her plans to open her own law practice in Syria. After several years of intensive university studies both in Syria and Lebanon, she found that the door to her intended career at home had been brutally shut. Two years ago, she made her way to Sweden to make a better life for herself.
"I came to Sweden because I had heard that it is a safe country for women to live and work in, a country where law and order prevails," says Heba, who has been an intern at Vattenfall’s Legal Group Function at the company's head office in Solna for the last few weeks. All thanks to the 'Hundred Club' initiative.
Internships for new arrivals
The Hundred Club is an initiative run by the Swedish government and the Swedish Public Employment Agency whereby larger companies cooperate to help new arrivals to gain a foothold in the country. On the basis of their needs, the companies offer internships which facilitate entry to the Swedish employment market for the new arrivals. At the same time, the companies make use of the intern's skills at no cost: a win-win situation in which Vattenfall’s target is to accept a hundred new arrivals within three years.
Heba Hamour took part in the selection process when Legal was looking for interns, and she was the applicant who best fitted the requirements profile.
"I have benefited greatly from the language and legal course which I took at Stockholm University," she says. This 'fast track' course is a cooperative initiative between Stockholm University and the Swedish Public Employment Agency for foreign graduates.
"To succeed in a new country with quite a different environment, culture and structure, one needs a plan. The most important thing is to learn the language, which is key, as is the ability to learn the prevailing codes of social behaviour."
"The time at Vattenfall has already given me so much, and I hope that the skills that I contribute will be of benefit."
Business economist from Nigeria
Abiodun Awoniyi from Nigeria is another intern at Vattenfall. She is currently familiarising herself with work involving the financial management of major projects within BA Generation. She graduated in urban planning, has experiences within the financial service industry and subsequently trained in business administration, an area she would like to continue her career within.
"I hope to contribute effectively to Vattenfall, be productive for this company and further build on my skills and develop new competencies that would make me more valuable in the Swedish employment market," says Abiodun, or Abi as her colleagues call her.
She came to Sweden a year ago.
"My husband is from Nigeria and works for Ericsson in Kista, where he develops IT systems. So it was a natural step for me to follow him," she says.
The first few weeks have been intense, interesting and highly instructive – not least as regards work culture and the rules of social conduct.
"Even a simple thing like the way you greet each other in the mornings. It's very much quieter and more restrained than what I was used to."
Induction by mentors
Her supervisor is Ingrid Ruppert, Business Controller BA Generation.
"Abi will be given independent tasks, and is currently being mentored by myself and other colleagues. We speak English at work, but switch to Swedish at lunch. That works really well."
Abi comes from the city of Lagos, a metropolis of about 20 million residents with many international aspects as regards dress, the availability of various goods and other things, so the difference to other large cities around the world is not so great, irrespective of their geographical location.
"The climate is certainly the big difference. I am used to temperatures of 35°C or more, in Stockholm it's even cold in summer."