During his second year, the planning of a semester abroad began. When Buster saw that Vienna was among the cities that LiU collaborates with, the choice was easy. He had seen a James Bond movie, where James visits the opera wearing a tuxedo and then runs across a roof in Vienna. The cultural diversity and the fact that the city always has something to offer was son enticing that Buster extended his semester abroad with an internship at the Swedish embassy in Vienna.
– Two days before I was supposed to start my internship, I flew to Vienna. At the airport, my luggage was lost, and my housing situation fell through. It was a stressful time for me. Right then and there I realised the importance of keeping a cool head and I really had to develop my analytical thinking. Everything worked out in the end, and I stayed a few nights in a hotel. I fortunately had a suit and two shirts in my carry-on luggage, so I had something to wear for the first few days of work before I could go to a men’s clothing store and do some expensive shopping on the airline’s expense, Buster Löfgren says.
What awaited him now was his internship at the Swedish embassy in Vienna. It was a hectic time, with long working days, challenging tasks, and colleagues who became friends.
– It was a little ironic that I travelled in my most worn-out sneakers, which I had intended to throw out when I arrived in Vienna, but instead, they continued to serve me for the first few days at the embassy, matched with the new suit and my freshly ironed shirts. During the first weeks at the embassy, it felt like I was analysing everything. I saw the diplomats as these mythical beings and thought that they all had everything under control. I adopted a military approach and almost saluted everyone walking by, Buster Löfgren says laughingly.
During his internship, Buster wrote several reports and got a chance to see his projects truly be useful. He also had the opportunity to collaborated with other international organisations and foreign authorities, and he made sure to thoroughly familiarise himself with the topics at hand.
– I have learned the importance of appearing confident and being well-prepared. When we attended events, I was introduced as a colleague rather than an intern – this gave me the same credibility and space as someone who had been working there for years. I also had my own email address for official communication, like contacting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm, other diplomats, businesses we collaborated with, Austrian ministries, and of course, the Bundeskanzleramt (the Austrian equivalent to the Government Offices) I was even invited to have coffee there and had a “one on one” with one of their department heads, says Buster Löfgren.
Towards the end of his internship, Buster and his boss worked closely with Business Sweden, which works on behalf of the government and the private sector to help Swedish companies increase their global sales. He later found out that there was a part-time position available at Business Sweden, which he applied for. Today, he sits in his office, assisting in several major projects while balancing his studies at the University of Vienna.
– Among other things, I study microeconomic theory and can directly apply my work experiences to my professor. It’s a perfect combination of two things that complement each other both academically and professionally, Buster Löfgren says.
This June, Buster will pack his bags once again and return home to Sweden, where the final year of studies at LiU awaits before he can obtain his degree.
– Now, I just want to finish my studies and continue to develop professionally. I am already where I want to be, and the plan is to return to Vienna. I hope to secure a permanent position at Business Sweden when I complete my studies., Buster Löfgren says.