Mia Hedengren was only fifteen years old when she decided to move 200 km away from home to enter a vocational upper secondary school programme on industry and technology. There was a college of industry in Mia’s home town, but it didn’t feel good enough, so she looked around at other colleges that accepted students from around the country. She visited a number of different colleges before she found the one that felt right for her, the Mälardalen Technical College in Södertälje.
It was a big change for Mia, who not only moved away from home but also started a course where almost all of the other students were male. The course was good, with small classes and enthusiastic teachers. There was a lot of work experience and freedom with responsibility, which in combination with the move led Mia to become more mature and responsible. During her time at college, Mia felt that “industry” would not be her final career choice, but the course opened the door to a job at a firm that produced dental implants. It was there that Mia realised that she wanted to become a dentist. After college, Mia studied for a year on a preparatory natural sciences course in Karlstad before entering the dentistry programme at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
What advice would you give to others who are about to start their studies or who are struggling with their studies at the moment?
– I don’t think that the traditional form of studying suits everyone, and it is therefore important to have the courage to test different things and to see what works for you. With the right support and people around you, you can cope with anything. Have the courage to ask for help with your studies or try to find alternative ways of learning. In my studies I switched about between studying together with friends, watching teaching films on YouTube and reading books.
What have you taken with you from your studies?
– Studying makes you grow as a person. It means so much more than simply getting your qualification or degree! I have learned the importance of networking and meeting people from the same sector. I’ve also learned that it’s not the end of the world if you fail an exam, and that you don’t always have to perform at the highest level or take yourself too seriously. Most important, though, is probably that one thing always leads to another, irrespective of whether it was good or bad. A course of study can lead to a job, that puts you in touch with a good manager, that leads to a training course, that leads to … Today I’m a qualified dentist but I started somewhere completely different.
Text: Lucella Bergström