On Monday, the first ever Study and Stay in Turku event for international university students took place at the Joki Visitor and Innovation Centre. More than 200 students and international talents attended the event. The overall goal of the event was to meet the national government’s goal of getting more international students to remain in Finland after graduation to help fill severe worker shortages in many sectors. Students were able to meet company representatives, take part in a CV review clinic, get interview tips and hear about the experiences of other international job seekers who graduated from Finnish universities.
In the panel discussion, the participants said finding their first job was a mix of networking, persistence and luck. Recent University of Turku Dentistry Ph.D graduates Tarek Omran and Khalil Shahramian hosted the panel. Evariste Habiyakare came to Finland in 1989 from Rwanda and said one of the most important things for international students is to start trying to build networks at the beginning of their studies.
– Try to learn a little bit about the culture and get to know your Finnish classmates. Many of the jobs I got were through people telling me that there is an opening and that I should apply, said Evariste. He now works as a Senior Lecturer at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.
Esther Kreutz moved to Finland from Germany to study at Åbo Akademi University in 2005. During that time, she became interested in the Union of Baltic Cities’ projects while she pursued a degree in Environmental Politics and Sustainability Studies. She said she started by emailing people in the organisation and meeting them to learn more and expressed interest in an internship. Over the next two years, she moved back to Germany for a period and stayed in contact with people working for the UBC, always reminding them about the internship. As she was moving back to Turku to complete her thesis, they got funding for an intern. She got full-time employment afterward.
Tan Bui came from Vietnam to study at Turku University of Applied Science. He said he got his job at Vaadin through a mix of luck and skill. Six months after he started his studies, he found out about a Trainee position with the company. He applied and was accepted.
– I was not expecting to get the position, so during my time as a trainee, I was very active about improving my skills, Tan Bui said. He believes that is how he was offered full-time employment afterward.
Tarek and Khalil ended the panel by asking each person, what advice would they give their 20-year-old self.
Evariste repeated the need to network as much as possible and told students to contact people working in areas that interest them. If you are not sure what you want to do, start looking in areas that have shortages and see if they interest you.
Esther said to network even though it is hard.
– I think my 20-year-old self was terrified of networking but be brave enough to call someone and ask to meet them. Don’t expect it to end in a job right away but find out what about the subject interests you and use that information to build your network, Esther said.
Tan said it’s important for students to act. You will always regret not doing something. Just take the step, be patient and hard-working so you can learn as much as possible because your skills are your key, said Tan.
The event ended with a keynote speech from University of Turku adjunct professor Peter Zettinig, who moved to Finland from Austria in 1995. The exchange year in Finland was fueled by wanderlust. He wanted to go to a place he knew nothing about.
He said that opportunities exist everywhere, but you must build them yourself.
– Your social environment is something you have to create yourself, he said. He ended by telling the student that every week, they should do something that might be uncomfortable. Be bold. You’ve already started that by moving to a new country.
Turku Science Park maintains a job portal for jobs that have English as the working language. It can be found here.
The event was organised by University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Humak University of Applied Sciences and Turku Science Park Ltd. The event was supported by Study in Turku and Talent Hub Turku.