In early February, SACC-SF/SV welcomed a new class of Swedish interns to our offices. First came Karin Falck, who arrived during the final days of two previous interns. The transition was quick and final before they returned to Sweden.
Karin started alone in the office, but she met with Chairman Nils Welin to learn of the purpose and expectations of the chamber. Immediately after her predecessors left, she was called upon to draft a plan to host the principle fundraiser for the chamber in one month's time. Fortunately she has great confidence, having studied and worked abroad in a variety of positions. So, she put together a plan and met with the planning committee to prepare for the 2013 Swedish Bay Area Achievement Awards (SBAAA) banquet and ball.
Next Emelie Höglund, who lives in the area with her UC Berkeley postdoc husband, dropped by to offer to help occasionally. By then Clara McInerney, an experienced event planner, had been hired to direct the interns with her extensive knowledge of local resources and practices. Thanks to her, various deals were negotiated to our advantage. Equally importantly, she parceled out the responsibilities to the interns so that all roles for successfully producing the event were covered and monitored.
Robin Ekerblad was next to arrive, after having been here twice before, and was able to be productive quickly. Finally Maria Eliasson and Michaela Alestam arrived after first meeting in Stockholm and forging a friendship. Only now—with less than a month to finalize plans—did the entire team begin to work together.
Fortunately they also had some help from others who were experienced in producing this event in years past. Clara McInerney was brought in to lead the effort, and board members Lotta Byström and Ted Olsson, also worked hard to make the event a stunning success.

Karin was born in the countryside in Bohuslän close to the village of Hällevadsholm. Having grown up exploring the surrounding green forests, lakes, sea and beautiful archipelago, she is at home in nature. Here her family maintains their summer house. She loves to read, travel, play sports, be out in nature and among friends.
Before entering university she worked in sales of telecom solutions in Gothenburg, becoming store manager. She has combined her studies with work as a mortgage advisor at the Swedish bank SEB.
As a student she continued being very active in numerous extracurricular activities: school union projects, case competitions and student networks. At the Sorbonne in Paris she studied French language and cultural history for a year. On her return, she studied at the School of Business, Economics and Law in Gothenburg. In addition to her bachelor’s degree in business administration with emphasis on international business, she earned a master's degree in business administration with an emphasis on management and organization. Now as a recent graduate she is looking for her next job.
Karin is extremely well rounded. She spent an exchange semester in Beijing, China and one in Rouen, France. And last summer she served as a financial account intern in Amsterdam. All these foreign ventures have been incredible experiences, meeting so many interesting people from all over the world. She has learned to appreciate cultural differences and to value cultural relativity.
Karin was attracted to this internship because of its vision to enhance trade, commerce and investment between Sweden and northern California. In particular she was attracted to this chamber in the San Francisco Bay Area because it is the premier high tech location in the world, where she hopes to understand new trends and developments. Here, too, she can meet the interesting entrepreneurs of the chamber and many companies with world-name recognition.
Something quite different about this internship from her previous ones and earlier jobs is that this organization is based completely upon the voluntary commitment of the members and board. This is her first time working at a non-profit and she is especially impressed with people’s genuine interest for Sweden and their good intentions to accomplish something lasting for the local Swedish community.
Karin would like to start working in Sweden using her breadth of international experiences and her academic training working with organizational and structural management, preferably at a global company based in Sweden.

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Born in Norköping, Robin studied business economics in Umeå. He spent a year in Grønningen during an exchange year in the Netherlands. There he met and fell in love with a girl from Buffalo, NY. After she got a job in San Francisco, he found out about this chamber internship from a previous SF intern.
In Sweden he had worked mostly in sales and customer service at a ski resort and at Scandinavia’s largest zoo near his hometown. He held various jobs in telephone marketing since he was 14. So, he felt comfortable at the chamber when assigned to contact sponsors and donors as well as inviting guests to attend the banquet.
Robin will complete his internship here at the beginning of August and then return to Stockholm to finish his master's thesis at the University of Umeå. He hasn’t decided upon the specific theme but it will have something to do with consumer behavior and strategic decision making. He hopes to graduate in three to five months after he begins.
This initial month was somewhat chaotic, with the urgency of the event constantly hanging over them. The interns found they were at similar levels of ability, and everyone was focused on the Achievement Awards event. Now that this is behind him, Robi wants to learn what is expected of him individually for the remainder of his stay and whether this will be spread evenly over the remaining months with appropriate guidance. He is grateful they all have learned a valuable lesson passing through this Survivor initiation as a team and that together they rely upon each other.

The youngest of three children, Maria grew up in Kalmar and loved to run in the woods. Just to be surrounded by nature with cows and horses was a special childhood, a feeling which has never left her. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics from Uppsala University.
Then Maria continued her studies in business, management and marketing in New York City, earning a diploma through continuing studies for those working in business, which she qualified for as Sales Manager for EF Education while working in Sweden. In New York, she learned yoga well enough to teach it. Quintessential to her character is liking people and finding ways to teach and help them. She’s not sure where her career will take her, but she's confident that if she can fall asleep at night happy with the day’s accomplishments, she’s on the right path.
In New York Maria learned of the internships available at several SACC locations. She applied and was accepted at all but chose San Francisco for its entrepreneurial vitality. She admires how people trust themselves by working in a startup. If they fail, at least they tried and have learned valuable lessons for the next job. Maria believes in vocation, a calling: what you are called to by your talents, you must do.
Maria is independent and extremely personable, making friends quickly. Her older siblings are both engineers, her mother a project leader at a startup and her father a math and English teacher. This accounts for her English fluency, her love of math and finance, and her entrepreneurial outlook. She is a natural at sales for that which she believes in.
Being away from home, without being homesick, she recognizes how much she loves Sweden, the country and the countryside. Here she admires the American “can do” spirit but all the more appreciates Sweden’s dedication to its peoples’ welfare, education and developing an intelligent population with entrepreneurial spirit. She had not before appreciated that the U.S. is as large and diverse as Europe, and is pleased that San Francisco is the friendliest city she’s ever visited. And enjoying sports, especially running and swimming, when not practicing yoga on Marina Green, she loves how close she is to nature here in the city.

Michaela is from Stockholm, so she is used to the energetic city life and beauty of the capitol. She started her studies at Lund but earned her Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics from Stockholm University. While starting to look for a job while writing her thesis, she learned of this internship from the career board at the university. Soon after, she was accepted and had to break the news to her parents. But she couldn’t say no to such an opportunity.
After earning her degree, she went to Australia for a Cambridge English immersion course. She completed that in several months. While there she learned how to work and to live in another country, appreciating its culture. Curiously enough, after such immersion down under, she has no trace of an Aussie accent.
Michaela's been dancing and competing all her life. She went to a special school in Stockholm dedicated to music and the arts. Now she teaches dance but has decided against becoming a professional dancer, yet she works at her avocation for spiritual fulfillment and pleasure, and very much enjoys seeing concerts of modern dance.
What she really appreciates about this internship is the startup nature of the work. Here you are personally responsible for your assignment but also for the teamwork and success of the whole project. In that way you’re exposed to doing a little bit of everything, thereby broadening your experience and strengthening your confidence. Unlike academic problems, here you are networking with CEOs in English—even if you’re both from Sweden, not merely doing tasks.
How does this complement her academic experience? These interns are learning teamwork as Ben Franklin defined it at the Constitutional Convention: "Either we hang together or surely we’ll hang separately.” So communication and collaboration become the essence of teamwork, since there’s little guidance from above.
At the conclusion of this internship Michaela intends to return to Stockholm. She would stay if she found a job here but hasn't really considered that possibility.

The board and members of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce for San Francisco and the Silicon Valley (SACC-SF/SV), congratulate this year’s interns on the tremendous success they achieved in producing the 2013 Swedish Bay Area Achievement Awards (SBAAA 2013). It was superb. We are tremendously impressed by each intern’s own entrepreneurial spirit and undaunted courage to produce such a large and expensive undertaking.
With guidance from Clara, Lotta and Ted, nevertheless it was you who bore the burden. Your well-earned self-esteem gained from this experience will let you conquer many challenges in the years ahead. We are justly proud of you and thank you for such a feat.

By Ted Olsson