Tommy's Travels: Berghs Bachelor, Around the World, and Back Again

Berghs Bachelor student Tommy graduated from Miami Ad School, and now works as a product manager and course director at Berghs! With years of work and study experience from around the world, we asked him about his time at Berghs, Miami Ad School, and what it's like to live in the USA.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m 33 years old and work as a Product Manager at the Danish neobank Lunar. I originally come from Borlänge in Dalarna, but I have lived in various places, including Lund, London, San Francisco, and Shanghai - thanks in no small part to Berghs. Since 2016, I’ve been living back in Sweden. 

My career has been quite varied. I started as a copywriter, but over the years I’ve worked as an analyst, strategic planner, communications and PR manager, as well as in experience design. It took me five schools to finally graduate as a copywriter, and today, I don't even work as one! You could say I'm a bit of a dropout kid.

However, I have always had a principle in my career that I learned early on from one of my role models: A career is a bit like stepping on a banana peel. It's great to have plans and goals, but suddenly you step on a banana peel, which causes you to stumble into something completely different from what you had imagined. For me, it’s always been a great inspiration, and guided me when I’ve wondered what I'm doing. If you’re open to stepping on those banana peels and being catapulted into different opportunities, it can be life-changing.

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You’ve had a unique history with Berghs. What did your Berghs Bachelor journey look like?

When I started at Berghs, it was right after I had moved back to Stockholm from London, where I had big plans of becoming a fashion journalist. So I’d thought that I wanted to engage in writing but was probably more inclined towards project management. Berghs felt like an exciting way to venture out into the world; for me, it was to San Francisco. The semester at Berghs was a transformative period, and I learned an incredible amount both about communication and about myself.

Miami Ad School seemed like an exciting alternative because it was a shorter education, only two years, and the education was closely linked to working life, with the opportunity to have an internship throughout the second year. Many Swedes had previously done the same and stayed in the USA for exciting jobs.

What was your experience like at Miami Ad School?

Starting something new is always an adjustment. Compared to the structured environment at Berghs, Miami Ad School was more loosely structured but still closely connected to the industry, with teachers who were highly skilled and inspiring. I started at their San Francisco campus and studied full-time for four semesters.

The internship period during my time at Miami Ad School was intense, which suited me because I wanted to graduate as quickly as possible and "get started" with my career. I learned a tremendous amount, and the close connection to working life was so important early in my career and has influenced my work ever since.

Miami Ad School had a strong focus on building our portfolios, with the belief that the portfolio is the ticket to a career. We almost always worked in copywriter/art director pairs. Nowadays, it's a somewhat outdated way of looking at creative work, but it forced us as creators to be strategic thinkers. Without strategists in the teams, we had to consider the entire value chain of the campaign and take on different roles depending on the situation. I believe this made us all more versatile in our craft, despite the quite limited team constellations.

How was the transition from Sweden to the USA?

In San Francisco, there was a large network of Swedes, especially from Berghs, so the move to the USA felt quite safe. It's always an exciting and slightly scary experience to move on your own to another country, especially when you're so young. But because of the friends I had from Berghs, it was a smooth transition. It somehow made me more willing to explore and build a network outside of the Swedish circle since I had a secure base.

Did you have a favorite thing about living in the US?

It has to be the incredible diversity. The USA is truly a melting pot of cultures, and I learned so much from my friends and colleagues from all over the world. I learned about different backgrounds, what it means to be an immigrant in a country like the USA, and how social mobility can differ around the world. But I also learned what brings national and cultural identities to life, how they emerge, survive, and change through generations. It was definitely an eye-opening experience.

Today you live in Sweden, what brought you back home?

I lived abroad for four years: around three years in the USA and one year in China. I counted the number of times I moved during those four years (there were many!) and lived out of a suitcase. Of course, I had an everyday life in both the USA and China, but it was difficult to settle down. I didn't have roots anywhere. So after those four years, I wanted to try to establish myself and decide on a place to be for a longer period. At that time, it felt right to head back to Sweden.

What would you tell someone considering applying for Berghs Bachelor?

Firstly, I would say: Dare to do it! It can feel scary to move abroad and especially to do it on your own. But it's an incredible experience that will shape both your future career and life.

Be open and curious about the country you’re going to and try to socialize in diverse circles, so that you're not only with a group of other Swedes. I think you’ll appreciate that in the future.

And take the time to develop your craft. It doesn't really matter what you call yourself - whether it's a copywriter, art director, strategist, futurist, or digital explorer. What matters is what your craft is, what you contribute to a team, and ultimately a workplace.

If you want an education that allows you to be close to working life, even during your education, the combination of Berghs and Miami Ad School is fantastic. That's what it’s been for me.