Career story: Luka is on the right track

Text: University of Turku Career Services

One of our Working Life Coaches during the UNICOM project was Luka Milovanov. We were able to interview him to tell about his experiences to a broader audience.

The current job and the work experience

“I’m working as a solutions architect at If P&C Insurance. Although my official title is about making software architecture and system design, I also do some operational tasks in the company and some project management work. I’ve been living in Finland since 1999 and have been working since then.”

Luka has worked as a Researcher / PhD sturent, assistant professor, software engineer, quality manager, project manager, and product manager during his career in Finland. He started at Åbo Akademi university, then at a telecom company, then a small advertisement agency for a change, then a small software house. Currently he enjoys working with a large community (over 1000 IT people) in a big company – “the insurance business is pretty much about IT.”

Learning the Finnish language and why it is important

Luka has never worked in a job where Finnish would be a definite requirement. Though he says his Finnish pretty good, even though normally in IT circles the working language is English.

“As a mathematician, Finnish was the easiest language to learn because it’s so formal – you have the rules and you just apply them. No irregular verbs, no articles. Don’t get scared if someone tries to scary you with number of Finnish cases – take e.g. English prepositions – they will very nicely map to Finnish suffixes. Linguistics (particularly mathematical linguistics) is one of my hobbies. Even though official work language is English, there are still people around you speaking Finnish, if you don’t understand it – you cut yourself of an important information channel. Not to mention that it’s always nice and useful to speak language(s) of a country you’re in.”

Experiences of looking for a job in Finland

After working in Finland for over 20 years, Luka has gained experience in looking for jobs. We asked if he thought job seeking is easy or difficult.

“Mathematically speaking (I’m a mathematician) – there’s no easy or hard – everything is about being capable to apply a right method for the right task. For my first position with the university I only sent one application, though it did have a lot of paperwork. After I left the academia for the IT industry I usually used three sources for job hunting – the governmental service (now rebranded as Job Market Finland), some job position aggregators and the companies I was interested in themselves. I did also get some invites from head-hunters though I can’t recall contacting them. When I was considering something, I was really interested in – it could be one application in a year, but when things went bad in 2011 and the telecom company I was working in faced problems, I was probably sending tens of applications per day.”

Skills that Luka considers good to have as an applicant are “Professionalism, ability to work with people, not being an asshole, ability to grow and learn, and perhaps the most important – understanding what you want yourself and what makes you happy.” He points out that these skills are no different from other places in Western Europe or Nordics.

Networking and finding information about Finnish working life

Networking is a term that comes up often when talking about Finnish working life. Luka says networking was part of the deal in the academia and it started his habit of networking.

“Now when I work in a big house with complex tasks which you can’t handle on your own, I network with people who can help me, also because they are very nice colleagues. Outside work I just meet and maintain relationships with people I find interesting.”

When starting a career, it is important to know about the Finnish labour market and how it works. Luka shares his tip for finding the useful information:

“Finnish society is pretty much digital, so you can find almost everything online. But some things you learn better while being in the environment, sometimes by doing mistakes. And of course, by talking to people around you (preferably in Finnish!)”

Final tip for international talents

“Listen to yourself; what you want to do, what makes you happy. And just go for it.”