Working in Sweden as a Foreigner

When I arrived in Gothenburg, Sweden, for my first rotation, I thought it would feel different working at a new facility half way across the world. After my second day, it already felt like home.

For 5 weeks, I was able to work with the Surface Surveillance Project Management team, learning how our Swedish counterparts manage the U.S. based programs. I was able to learn about and work with different project management, costing and budgeting tools, and see the benefits and struggles as compared to the tools we use at SDAS. I was able to tour the production facilities, and view our Sea Giraffe product in production and testing, help facilitate meetings between the Gothenburg project management team and my U.S. colleagues, and meet numerous people from different departments and functions and grow my professional network.  Having the chance to put faces to names makes a huge difference in the way we communicate and work with one another, and working here for 5 weeks made a big difference for me.

One of the greatest parts about working in Gothenburg and being a Saab Graduate was how easy it was to have conversations with people and grow my network. My go to phrase to start a conversation with new people was, “Tjena! I’m Dominic, I am a Saab Graduate this year, what do you do?” Everyone I met was always happy to talk to me and wanted to show me around and tell me all about what they do.

Working in Gothenburg also taught me so much about the difference in Swedish and American working culture. During my first day, I learned all about Fika time. In fact, I learned a few cups too much about it, since the coffee kept me up all night. I also learned that you never eat at your desk; you eat downstairs in the dining hall. When my colleagues asked what I normally did for lunch, they thought I was a bit crazy when I told them I eat lunch at my desk, which is a normal habit at my home department in America. I was also very confused when after lunch, people would say, “Let’s take a walk around the house.” I thought they actually meant they were going home to walk around their house, but quickly realized they meant the office building. I was even able to attend the Saab “Julbord,” and try all of the different Swedish Christmas cultural foods.

Swedish Christmas cultural food.

It is back to the U.S. for now, but I am excited to return in the near future!

Until we meet again,

Dominic DiFulvio