If you ask Anjana Sinha why she moved to Finland, the answer is simple: family. Six years ago, Anjana’s husband got an on-site assignment in Finland and Anjana decided to resign from her job in India and go with him. She didn’t know a single person in the country when she arrived but gradually created her own networks. And much more. She started her own profitable networking company and, when the pandemic took its toll on the business, retrained as a software developer.
I wanted to start a company in Finland… because I didn’t find a suitable employer here at the time. In India, I was working at IBM as a project administrator. Along with searching for jobs, I did multiple volunteering activities and work practices when I arrived in Finland, but I wasn’t able to see any future in these companies. This was when I decided to work on my own idea. After some ideation and implementation, I opened my own business to build a crowdsourced networking platform.
I ran my startup for around two years and generated profit for our service providers. Then came 2020 and the pandemic. I closed my company during the pandemic as our business model relied heavily on face-to-face meetings. I call it a semi-failed startup because I recovered the money I invested. I also realised how challenging and difficult it is to run a startup.
The Finnish startup ecosystem is… easy to get involved in. I invested a lot of time in making my company work. As an immigrant and a non-Finnish speaker, I thought opening a company in Finland would be super difficult, but it wasn’t. Many organisations constantly conduct events on how to open a company, get investment and many other business skills.
During the process, I learned how to create a website. I learned to do networking. I went to pitching competitions. I created a community of service providers. I conducted workshops and events.
The idea of my startup was to create offline events and workshops so that people can actually meet each other, learn something new and decrease their feelings of loneliness. We did multiple paid workshops on various topics until the pandemic happened. It was the sole reason why we had to stop the workshops.
I decided to change careers from an entrepreneur to a developer because… after we stopped the workshops, I decided to learn skills which would definitely get me a job. Finland and the whole of Europe are lacking people from the technology field. So I chose software development and decided to learn how to code. I was not enrolled in any institute or university in Finland. Instead, I had to learn on my own.
All my friends were 10 years ahead of me, so they couldn’t help. I had to create a path on my own and find the answers. Initially, I thought it would be easy and fast, but when I started it took longer than I thought.
My experience with changing careers in Finland has been… that it is tough if you are trying to find a job in a field which has less demand. It will be difficult, and you will end up with over 500 rejection letters. Instead, I would recommend searching which job profiles have the highest numbers of open positions. Then, based on what job profile suits you, pick your path and start working triple hard.
Many people who were housewives in their home country have pursued careers in Finland. And many people have become self-taught developers and got the job. Others have pursued their passion and become entrepreneurs.
My initial plan was to just learn front-end development and not focus on the back end. But as it happened, I got so involved that I completed the entire course. I knew I had to work twice as hard to land a job in Finland in programming, but I chose to work three times as hard. I just gave it all I had.
After completing that course, I continued with videos, courses and tips shared by awesome gurus on Youtube, StackOverflow, MDN, forums, etc. In particular, YouTube video content helped me a lot.
My fascination with APIs and my drive to prove myself took me to a skill level where I started getting freelance gigs, which helped me create a portfolio, and job offers. This gave me the confidence that I was on the right path and boosted my will to go on. After all, destiny has planned the best for me.
Eventually, I landed my current job in a big multinational company job and did that without a referral. It left me with a grateful realisation that we should never underestimate ourselves and the power of hard work. I fully promote networking, but there is just no substitute for hard work.
The advice I would give to anyone considering becoming a developer in Finland is… if you get a chance to build a website for free, even on WordPress, consider it a blessing and do it. It will help you understand more about your profile and work, and you can use it to create a portfolio.
NGOs and startups often don’t have much money to invest in a website. Approach them and work for them. Everyone is looking for a person motivated to learn by themselves, so don’t forget to show your motivation in the interview.
The main difference in working life in Finland compared to other countries where I have worked is… summer vacations. I already knew about summer vacations, but I was surprised that here people encourage you to take a vacation and give you extra money to do so.
The organisations that have been helpful for my professional growth in Finland include… I will always be thankful to the International Working Women of Finland (IWWOF) for giving me the opportunity to build their website. I must add this happened because of networking, and currently I’m fulfilling the dream I had for my own company by creating an entrepreneur directory for IWWOF.
What I enjoy most about living in Helsinki is… I love walking in the woods, camping and cooking on wood fire. But, most importantly, I feel immensely safe in the country, and I can be sure that the food you are eating is pure.
The hobbies I have really enjoyed practising in Finland are… right now, I’m focused on just four things. The first is my job, I’m focused on upskilling myself to perform better. Secondly, I’m doing something for my own country by connecting India and Finland through cinema.
Thirdly, I’m part of IWWOF’s initiatives targeting immigrants and women entrepreneurs. And the last one is salsa. I take salsa classes and aim to perform in stage shows.