"I started my job hunt right away and with the best spirit, thinking I would find a position in no time - after all, I had years of experience in Marketing. Now I can say, I had no idea what a journey expected me.
Searching for a job as an expat can feel like hitting a wall. Over and over again. The real challenge in job seeking in Finland isn’t with experience, education or language. The real challenge is finding the motivation to keep going, no matter how many no’s you hear during the search or how often you are told you are not good enough, integrated enough, Nordic enough. That's what really gets to you.
It is easy to start questioning your decision: why am I in this country that doesn’t even want me?
After eight years and four jobs, what I feel like sharing as an advice is the following: make it very clear to yourself why you live here (it’s most likely not for career-related reasons), and focus on what makes you unique in the job market rather than on what you still don’t have (e.g. Finnish language skills).
For me, the shift happened when I saw an open position for a customer service job at Supercell, now the most successful gaming company in Finland. I had worked in an Italian restaurant as a waiter over the summer of 2012, so when I got called for an interview, I was so excited. I will never forget when the interviewer told me that, considering my background, they thought I could lead one of their customer service teams. It was the first time somebody in this country gave me credit for what I had done before moving here.
I still look back at that grey November day in 2011, and I think to myself: man, I have been very, very lucky to have found somebody who believed in me. And when you are that lucky, it is your responsibility to give back.
I wish places like Startup Refugees existed when I first came to Finland. Places that give newcomers a jumpstart to Finnish working life and help them with becoming employed and independent. And most of all, create a community of jobseekers that does not leave people alone. My best option back then was a pretty discouraging integration plan that put me through intensive Finnish language courses, with little to no contact with the Finnish society and actual working life. A constant reminder of what I was not good at.
Finding English speaking volunteer opportunities is not that easy, so when I heard of the Phoenix online store where you can donate time to Startup Refugees, I jumped at the chance. I signed up to mentor budding entrepreneurs and host workshops on working life skills and entrepreneurship.
I’m hoping that the workshop I just gave to job seekers will be the first of many. And I hope that many of my colleagues in Marketing and Sales are inspired to do the same!"