October 14, 2019

My career: From start to Finnish

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Mark Fletcher, Australia
International editor/freelance journalist

Mark met his Finnish future wife when they were both living in Edinburgh in 1999, and moved to Finland to be with her in 2002. About five years ago, he decided he had had enough of being a chef and wanted a change, so he set about doing something about it and was accepted to study hospitality management.

As his studies continued, he started writing as a hobby and slowly started getting some paid gigs. After a while, he decided this is what he wanted to do. The interim between then and now has been filled with lots of running around between his old job, studies and freelance writing, combined with his fatherly duties (sometimes writing in between making pizzas at work). After many close calls for full-time work, countless dead-end leads and a lot of wondering if he was wasting his time, persistence eventually paid off.

1. The piece of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland is… that this isn’t the easiest country to acclimatise to if you aren’t ready for it, so if you are planning to move based on a “ponder” it would be highly advised to check out the work possibilities that pertain to your industry and skillset. Just because you are a double-major in chemistry or engineering or something else of that calibre, it does not make it a given that you can just step into a related job. Of course, it’s advised that you learn Finnish (I’m still at pigeon level), but depending on what industry you are aiming for it might not be necessary. Finland is really pushing to be a global player in many different industries, which can often mean that English is used as the working language. I can’t stress enough the pre-move research part, though…

2. The best way to enjoy the weekend after a working week is… I like just hanging out at home and enjoying an occasional glass of wine. I’m very simple in this way. I also meet up with friends once in a while in our “gentlemen’s club”, which just means getting together for saunas, beers, eating out or even staying overnight at someone’s summer cottage, all the while talking about complete nonsense!

3. What has changed about Finland since I have lived here is… that it does seem very different from when I moved here in 2002, as there is a much more international feel here and the city centre streets are a lot more lively as opposed to it looking like a crowd of people walking to and from a funeral. The younger Finns are a lot more open and social than the older generations. I’m not sure of the catalyst for all this, but I like it.

4. What is good to know when doing business with Finnish companies is… that – and this is maybe just on the surface – Finland feels like the world capital of not responding to emails. I’m not just referring to job seeking, but also when you are working and need to contact someone for information. It often takes multiple attempts to get simple information, but, at the very least, my investigative journalism skills have improved!

5. My favourite thing about Finland has to be… the summer cottage/sauna culture which was the main luring point to move to Finland (apart from my wife, of course). The combination of being away from the hustle and bustle, mixed with proximity to nature and a good ole beer in between a dip in the lake and putting another löyly on the sauna stones. However, in saying that, I love that Finland has such a juxtaposition between being traditional and nature-loving, and the crazy amount of innovation that is going on here.

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