My Career: From Start to Finnish
Svetlana never gave up and landed the job of her dreams
Get to know more about Svetlana via LinkedInsvetlana-piirto
Svetlana Piirto, Latvia. Customer experience operations specialist
The reason Svetlana ended up in Finland was because of work. In Latvia she worked for a company that was providing project management support services to Finland. She was offered a 12-month onsite contract assignment working as a project management specialist and process consultant in Helsinki. The contract was extended and then she met her Finnish husband. As a result, she stayed here permanently. Now Finland feels like a second home where her family lives. She has been living and working here in different companies for eight years and is “loving it so far”.
How Svetlana got her current job is that she wanted to work for a particular company ever since she first started using their product. She knew clearly the environment and sector that she wanted to work in and sent five open applications to different contact persons at the company. Her friends told her that “Finns do not act like this, way too persistent” and she answered: “That’s okay, I’m not Finnish”. She recalls that she literally did not give up until there was a position suitable for her. Svetlana accepted a temporary contract at first just to have the opportunity to prove herself. Now she has a permanent employment. Her conclusion – “take your chances and never give up!”
When asked for the Finnish word that best describes working here she says ‘vuoristorata’ – a roller-coaster. “There will be ups and downs, but it will be exciting.”
What I find surprising about working in Finland… is the summer holiday culture when it feels like the whole of Finland is on holiday in July and the work stops and festival season starts. I love the idea of a long, uninterrupted holiday and how it is respected by companies. I like how Finns value family time and honour work/life balance. Another thing that I admire is that people have a choice how to come to work – they chose a bicycle over a car no matter the weather. It is a true cycling country.
My favourite thing about Finland is… the purity of water. It is such a luxury! My family from Latvia always say how tasty water we have when they visit here. I also like the wildness of the nature, good social security as well as the honesty of Finnish people. I also fell in love forever with the karjalanpiirakka (Finnish rice pie) after trying it for the first time.
“Invest time in learning the language and decide for yourself what you want in the long term.”
The piece of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland is – use your network. If you do not have it, start building one. Go to social events, e.g. expat events, company events, join different communities, attend tradeshows. Invest time in learning the language and decide for yourself what you want in a long term. Do a lot of research beforehand, get to know the culture. The job search is never an easy process even for native people. It will not be a smooth journey and be prepared for some disappointments. It is all about how far you are ready to go to pursue your dream career. As a side note: be prepared for the darkness and D vitamin supplementation all year long.
The best way to enjoy the weekend after a working week is… very individual. Speaking for myself it is a gym workout, sauna... This is both my hobby and a way to relax. I’m also a personal trainer and nutrition coach in addition to my office job, so I cannot imagine my life without training. Gym time is my “ME time” and of course, time with my family is another way how I recharge myself for the week ahead. I’m very happy to see how active people are in Finland and how early kids start their sports hobbies.
My initial expectations of Finland were… “I will be freezing here”. In reality it is not that bad, and in comparison to Latvian weather it is just few degrees’ difference. What I was not prepared for is the darkness and winter lasting until May. I learned to live with it, but I honestly miss the sunshine. Also, I had that stereotype that Finns are very reserved people and are not easy to contact. However, the experience shows that they have a great sense of humour, they are very helpful, polite and supportive - just give them some time to get to know you better!