Participating in trainee programs or working during your summer vacation is a great way to kickstart your career and gain international work experience in your field (or try something completely different). More and more of Finnish companies are not requiring fluency in Finnish anymore, so how about starting your career here?
What is it like to work in Finland? We asked Robert Buesink from The Netherlands and Lucie Grandjean from France to tell us how they have experienced working life in Finland.
As their background differ a little bit, so do their experiences. When moving to Finland, Lucy had just finished her studies in France and didn’t have any previous experience working abroad. Robert, on the other hand, had already lived and studied in Sweden when he moved to Finland in order to do an internship and graduation project that would finish his master’s degree.
How easy was it to find a job in Finland?
Lucie: It took me about 2,5 months to find a job that would suit my profile. That’s not bad, considering that finding a job in France at the moment isn’t any easier. However, the job I found was located in a city far from where I actually wanted to live. So I had to sacrifice this criterion to start my career in Finland. I was happy to have my first job here so I didn’t pay attention to the location at first.
Robert: I found my first position online and did the interviews through Skype. Everything was quite smooth from the beginning. After graduating, I was very lucky to find this new job… The Finnish work market has lots of open positions, but I was searching for a very specific position.
What it is like to work in Finland?
Lucie: I think work habits are really different in France and Finland. Finnish people are really efficient, they work non-stop and then they go back home. French people are more relaxed, they like to socialize and chat more. A lot of positions are in English and knowing Finnish is not always a requirement – the market is clearly open to everyone, including foreigners. However, Finland has a very good education system and there’s a lot of qualified people on the market, which makes the competition quite fierce. At least that is how I felt.
Robert: I love the warm lunches. I could never go back to eating sandwiches as we do in the Netherlands! I do think there should be a bit more activities and being together with your colleagues. Overall, I like the way Finns work together, they are rather direct but remain friendly, which is a good way to collaborate. I like the flat hierarchical structure within companies, you can approach everyone no matter what position theirs is.
Any tips to Finnish companies and possible colleagues?
Lucie: Sometimes I don’t feel completely integrated even after two years in the company, possibly because of the language barrier. My tip to all companies is: always communicate in English if your company hires foreigners! Offering Finnish courses to the non-Finnish speakers is also essential.
Robert: When you come to Finland as a foreigner, it is quite likely that your social network is small. Hence, providing opportunities to meet new people and network for example through trips or other activities would really give that extra motivation! I would recommend that companies would attract people by highlighting the fact that besides the job, you get to be international, make new friends and learn about the culture – and besides, it all looks good on your CV!
Text/picture: Riia Järvinen