There are a lot of jobs, and the number is increasing day by day. Looking for a job and finding one is still a hard task for anyone, let alone for somebody with a foreign background. There are attitudes and prejudices. We are not always treated as individuals but rather like representatives of countries and cultures. To prove our competence is a challenge. If we cannot overcome this and at least get an invitation to an interview where we can be the individuals that we are. Here I say: Don’t give up! Go for the opportunities that are out there.
I frequently face the question about language skills, especially skills in the Finnish language. Yes, it is an asset to prove at least some knowledge in the Finnish language. In many cases the language skills are not that important for performing the work. But out of habit or comfort, the requirement stays. Don’t let that discourage you. Apply for the jobs anyway. And then ask wouldn’t you qualify as you are. Let your personal presence at the interview make the difference. Finland has its own minority that is in many cases non-Finnish speaking. They speak Swedish and sometimes they face that same situation as far as the Finnish language is required. During the summer I had the privilege of having two young non-Finnish colleagues who made a terrific work (on how international talents in tech can work in Finland) in an organization that until this moment had been solely Finnish speaking. The universities offer training in language skills, in particular Finnish. Join those courses.
The Finnish Väestöliitto is working on recognizing international talent. We need more people in our working life. It’s in the news and that’s what everybody is talking about. But here talk and reality don’t meet, yet.
Although we are not always treated equally because of our international background we must keep trying. Our trade unions offer advice and even career services that have a positive impact on our chances to find a new job and career. We need to create professional networks from the moment we arrive to Finland. The networks must include native Finns to enable understanding the local working culture and society and to root us here.
Activity during our studies and when we are PhD candidates enhance our chances yet a bit more. Meet with fellow students, colleagues, project partners and neighbours. Go for coffee breaks and have lunch together with others, at least occasionally.