Text: Anna Lagerroos, University of Turku
One of our Working Life Coaches during the UNICOM project was Ameya Foujdar. He is always happy to help international students by sharing his experiences of finding a career in Southwest Finland. We were able to interview him to tell about his experiences to a broader audience.
The current job and how he got there
Ameya works now as a Coordinator in Alumni Relations at the University of Turku.
The work title Coordinator is unique in Finland and can be similar to that of a Manager wherein the work includes working on multiple projects in a specific field, improving, developing and making sure processes are finished on time. This kind of job calls for good interpersonal, organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills. In Ameya’s job, this means that he develops Alumni and International Relations and related internal university processes. He also implements Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture’s activities for international students within the university and beyond through by Talent Boost initiatives. He does this work as a part of the Partnerships and Strategic Engagement Unit, which supports the university’s management, by promoting and developing the university’s social interaction and partnerships. He also works on building the university’s international partnerships.
Ameya was introduced to Finland as a child through his interest in Finnish music leading to an interest in Finnish culture and society. This curiosity towards Finland brought him to apply to a Master’s degree here and he moved to Finland in 2017 to start his studies at the Faculty of Law at the University of Turku. After the graduation in 2019, he noticed that his initial career motivations had changed quite a lot, and he more driven towards helping other international talents like himself and public sector became an area of interest.
”The job where I work now was open for applications on the university’s website. A person in my network subsequently posted about the job on their Linkedin feed. I had also people from my network recommending me to apply for the position. If I hadn’t seen the post on my connections’ Linkedin, I probably would have not heard about the job and never ended up applying.”
Ameya told that he does not network just for building professional contacts – he wants to have meaningful conversations with other people and connect with them based on common interests and motivations. He told that during the studies: ”it was quite hard to meet Finns naturally and also thinks it might have been easier to network if I have known Finnish (language) back then.”
Finnish working life and the language
Ameya learned about Finnish working life through different experiences and actively searching for information. He has worked on trade sector to get work experience in Finland. He also completed an internship during his studies. Ameya remembers that he felt uncertainty of his decision to intensively learn Finnish, as there were not that many who he knew has taken this path right after graduation, and thereafter it was also not clear how much time it would take to develop professionally usable language skills in which it would be acceptable to work in Finland.
He works now completely in Finnish and has invested a lot of time in learning the language. He did 2 years of intensive Finnish language learning after graduation (2019-2021) and still keeps learning new words every day from his colleagues, especially slang words that one might not be able to learn so easily by just studying the language on their own. He likes to work at the office a lot as opposed to remotely, as it is also a way to speak Finnish more.
Adapting to Finnish working life, culture and society not been a challenge for Ameya.
”Personally, I haven’t felt that adapting to Finnish work culture or society has been a challenge. In fact it has been the easiest of perceived challenges in Finland compared to learning a new language and building networks. I found a society that corresponded exactly to my worldviews and the work culture corresponded to my work ethics and style. It’s been a perfect match and it’s been smooth sailings from that perspective. No culture shocks or training was needed here. The real challenge for most is probably the weather and that’s understandable. I like to drink coffee and dont mind the cold weather. It’s not as bad as it sounds.’’
Ameya has also been recently helping students get a better practical understanding on how learning Finnish works for international who move to Finland for higher education or work and how to manage language learning along with studies and work life. Lot of people also ask about his experiences on Linkedin and he is happy to share.
Tips for international talents interested in finding a career
The general skills that Ameya has found important to be able to succeed in Finnish working life are being able to take self-initiative, being able to ask for help but also being independent with job tasks and being able to prioritize tasks at work.
”It is important to train yourself to navigate the job market and being aware of how recruitment works. Knowing people and being able to get recommendations about open vacancies is really important. If you want to have a more responsibilities in your job tasks and increase your career prospects in Finland, knowing the Finnish language is crucial. There is not one recipe for successful job hunting in Finland. You’ve to actively stay on top of what are the requirements in your own field and what recruiters are looking for. Depending on that you have to highlight the relevant skills and plan how to bring them forward in your job applications and interviews. And don’t underestimate your soft skills!”.
He also points out that life outside of work also affects your work life. Work life balance is something that Ameya highly values and he was glad to find it at the University. Moving to a new country, starting to build networks from scratch, learning a new language and making a new country your home is a challenging but rewarding process. Ameya says that he has faced many challenges on his journey of building a life in Finland and for him a workplace that understands that is important. He considers himself lucky on having found such a supportive workplace and employer in UTU.