February 24, 2020

My career: From start to Finnish

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Mark Gillard, Australia
Engine developer

Mark was working on a hobby project in Australia that happened to catch the interest of someone at his current place of work in Finland. They found it compelling and relevant enough to offer him a job, on the other side of the world.

“It was very much a case of ‘right place, right time’,” he recalls.

Rather than baulk at the cooler climate when he arrived here, he has found it a welcome change from Australia’s summer heat. Stereotypes about Finnish people being antisocial or averse to small talk haven’t resounded with him either.

“I haven’t noticed either of those things being true any more than they would be back home.”

1. What I find surprising about working in Finland is… that healthy work attitudes are a big part of the culture here: personal and holiday time is highly valued, and nobody seems to be ‘working themselves into the ground’.

2. My favourite thing about Finland is… there’s lots of things I love, but the one that impacts me most on a regular basis is probably the internet connections; Australia is very lacking in that area, so for an IT professional that’s a very welcome contrast.

3. The piece of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland is… if you’re coming from outside the EU like I did, you’re going to have to jump through quite a few administrative hoops and it can be a bit overwhelming. My advice would be: don’t be afraid to ask for help! I found that any time I needed help, it was always available if I asked for it. I never felt like the system was working against me.

4. Working in Finland’s software development industry has taught me… that a startup sector that has the backing of government and industry can actually accomplish something! Australia’s startup sector has a lot of catching up to do…

5. What I enjoy most about living in Helsinki is… that I’ve lived here for over two years and haven’t needed a car once in that entire time! Everything is close together and the city has a healthy respect for bicycles.

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