My career: From start to Finnish
Suvi Qiu, China
Suvi met her Finnish husband in 2001 when she was studying in Singapore. She had a very bad first impression of the guy – he said the phone she was holding was from Finland, the world’s famous Santa was from Finland, sauna was from Finland… She assumed at the time they were all from the US. In return, she answered his questions impatiently: sure she knew where Finland is, next to Poland.
In spite of this less than auspicious start, Suvi moved here in 2003. Having landed her first job in Finland, she is very accustomed to the style of working here.
1. If I could change one thing about Finnish working life it would be… to develop an effective incentive system. Finland is missing the hugely important skills of sales and marketing, although we have very good products and technologies. It’s a pity.
2. My favourite things about Finland are… firstly, the summer time. You should stay in Finland instead of travelling abroad for your holidays. Enjoy the fresh heat, beautiful design, sleepless nights and the beats. By summer, I mean the approximately eight weeks from June to August. You should really enjoy it.
Also, the public service here is very friendly and humane. But they serve people one at a time, so don’t expect to jump the queue even if you only have a quick question.
Finns also tend to take things slow. In case you haven’t noticed, many elevators in Finland don’t have a close door button. In Finland kids go to first grade when they are seven and Finns are very proud of this.
Finally, I have to mention showering. Only when you are travelling abroad, you start to miss the Finnish shower. We have six-star shower experience at home, in hotels and even public sectors.
3. How I got my current job is… that I’ve had the dream to work for a non-profit board, to work for the people. I have had this little goal in mind, but I’m quite simple and straightforward – I’d rather wait for the right moment to come. Here it came at the right time and right place with the right people around me.
Do recognise what you are good at, believe in it and don’t give up. Finland provides equal chances for men and women.
I quite often hear foreigners say they need to speak Finnish in order to find a job. I disagree. You need to find a place that is suitable for you, be trustworthy, understand your ego barrier, continuously improve yourself and diversify. Do go out and meet different people, taste different food, listen to different music. One’s inspiration can lead you to lifelong wealth.
4. The words of advice I would give to someone contemplating coming to work in Finland are… I tried to escape Finland twice – once to California, once to south China – but in the end this proved that living in Finland is the best for me because I’m happy here overall. This was before Finland was ranked the world’s happiest country to live. For people moving up north for work, I would like to suggest that you book your getaways in advance to a warm place between November and April, preferably once a month. If you can survive these months, you will be a long-term fighter here.
Be a doer, not a talker. Most Finns don’t do small talk, you shouldn’t too. Also, be creative and flexible. It may sound idealistic to say that you should make your passion and your work the same thing, but Finland offers a better platform and chance to achieve this. You need to be creative and flexible.
Find work and life balance. It is quite hard. I also hope to improve in this field.
5. The best way to enjoy the weekend after a working week is… spending time with friends with good food, good music, exchanging ideas and speaking about bad feelings. Sustaining good relationships are very important for me. A perfect weekend would be spending time with loved ones. Also ‘small weekend’ starts from Wednesday here.
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