Many international students start their study abroad journeys with the goal of also building a career. This is especially true for those pursuing higher education, such as master’s degree students, who are eager to dive into the workforce during their studies or shortly after. Today, we’re sharing tips to help you make that transition as smooth as possible.
1. Start laying the groundwork early
There are many aspects that you need to start thinking about and acting on already during your time as an international student. Meeting people and growing a network of individuals through career fairs or student organisations can help you build connections with professionals in your field of interest. Establishing a network takes time, so the earlier you start, the better.
While you’re a student, it would be a good time to start preparing for job applications. For international students, we recommend you visit your institution’s Career Services to familiarise yourself with dos and don’ts of writing a resume/CV and cover letter in Finland. Feel free to ask your local friends or professors to take 5 minutes of their time to informally review your CV and ask them for feedback. While you’re a student, it is a good time to create your LinkedIn profile or brush up your existing one.
2. Prepare yourself for the difference in living expenses
It’s important to note that the significant financial difference in living costs becomes apparent when transitioning from studying to working. Finland is known for providing various student discounts and benefits that make living expenses more affordable for students on a budget.
One significant benefit for students is the affordable student lunches, which are available at many restaurants and cafes for as little as 2.95€. These lunches are heavily subsidized by the government, making them an affordable option for students who want to eat out.
Students are also entitled to discounts on bus cards and long-distance trains, which can help in major savings when commuting. For example, in Turku, students pay 38€ for a monthly bus card, compared to the regular price of 55€. When it comes to housing, student accommodation is another significant benefit for international students in Finland. Rent for student housing is very reasonable, with a small studio apartment (around 18 m2) costing around 300-400 euros per month in cities like Turku.
It’s recommended to inquire about how long you can retain your student rights, so you can continue utilizing student benefits for as long as possible. This will give you more time to prepare for the financial jump that may come with losing your student benefits.
3. Learn about Finnish workplace culture and language needs
You can start preparing for the Finnish workforce from day one by gaining an understanding of the country’s culture. For example, while still a student at university, you can take the time to learn about how Finn’s value punctuality, do not talk over each other, and respect 4 personal space. Demonstrating that you understand these values can help open doors to potential employers.
One should also research the Finnish language requirements in their industry. While you can get by in some industries with less strict language requirements, such as in the IT sector, industries involving more human interaction, such as the service or healthcare industry, have stricter language needs. During your studies, you may want to evaluate workplace language needs by asking professors, classmates, and alumni to share their experiences. Regardless of whether you need Finnish for your professional life, it’s undoubtedly an asset to have if you’re planning to build a life in Finland.
As the popular proverb goes, “The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now.” This statement is accurate because it’s never too early to start preparing for your professional career.
While you’re a student, there are many support systems in place. However, when you enter the workforce and lose your study rights, it can feel like having the safety net pulled from underneath you. So, if you are nearing graduation and are concerned about losing your student benefits, you may want to ask your employer if they can provide a raise to help sustain you without these discounts. It’s always better to be prepared and have a plan in place to avoid financial stress after graduation. Planning for the transition can also include exploring options for extended student benefits and budgeting for higher living expenses.
Text and pictures: Couple of Expats