Dennis is Xamk’s alumnus, who works as a system specialist at Marskidata in Mikkeli, he works with automation, data migration and lots of other things related to Microsoft.
Dennis had studied IT engineering at Xamk, graduating extremely fast, in three years. Usually, the IT engineering program takes four years. “I think I might have the record of getting the most ever credit during one semester, but then I heard one Asian guy had beaten my record”, laughs Dennis. “I was older than the other students and had more life and working experience. Anyway, I enjoyed the student life and all the events and spending time with others was important, it was nice to belong to Xamk’s student community”, he continues.
From chef to the engineer in IT
Before starting to study at Xamk, Dennis was working as a chef. “Working as a chef is nice, but it is really hard work, it is physically challenging. I wanted to challenge my mind more and IT is interesting and mainly mind work. IT also gives you an opportunity for remote work, you can be anywhere in the world and still do your job”, Dennis sums up.
“Sometimes I set up a hammock on my balcony and work from there”
How did I end up in Finland, Mikkeli and Xamk
“I identify myself as an American, since we moved there when I was 5 years old. I never thought I would end up in Finland, I hadn’t ever heard anyone speaking Finnish before I moved to Finland. It was an ordinary story how I decided to move to Finland – I was in love. The love for that girl didn’t last, but at that point I had fell in love with Finland so bad, so I couldn’t move anywhere.”
IT Engineering was the first option for Dennis when he applied in to Xamk. He also applied to Tampere to study IT engineering, but Mikkeli was the first choice since he already lived in Mikkeli.
Studying at Xamk Dennis started in 2019.
“Studying at Xamk was a great experience. Teachers really cared about us and they wanted us to succeed.”
“All the teachers answered our questions, interacted with us and supported us in any matters. I really felt they wanted us to graduate and get a nice job. Teachers and staff at Xamk speak good English. Most memorable teachers are Matti and Jari. Matti is the head teacher of IT, very good at interacting with students and a great guy, Jari is the teacher of mathematics and has a brilliant mind” Dennis talks about his study years.
After living more than five years in Finland, has Dennis learned some Finnish. “Vähän” (=little) he answers when asking if he speaks, but during the conversation it comes clear that he understands a lot, even if he says that Finnish is a very hard language. “My current employer, Marskidata, even offered to pay a Finnish language course for me, and that really impressed me. They really make me feel that I’m important for them “, says Dennis proudly.
The job at Marskidata, Dennis found online and applied for an internship that was a part of his studies. Opportunity to also write the thesis as a project for Marskidata was offered right at the beginning of the internship. “I wrote my thesis really quickly, and after graduating from Xamk, Marskidata offered me a job.”
“Actually, there is a funny story of my first days at Marskidata, I was in the coffee room and the CEO of Marskidata came in and we started chatting. I was casually talking and joking because I had no idea who he was. I asked him who he was, and he said he was the CEO, it gave me quite a shock! Apparently, his first impression of me wasn’t that bad, because here I am.”
“American work culture is very different compared to Finnish work culture, at least at Marskidata everyone is more relaxed and casual around each other.”
Finnish nature and pace of life hits different
“For anyone interested studying in Finland, I would really recommend Xamk. Teachers are highly professional, and they really do care about you. They motivate you to study and graduate, but they are also nice people.
Living in Finland is very different, when compared to my previous hometown in US, in Tennessee. In Tennessee, I saw the mountains when I got out, here it feels very flat. Here we have so many lakes, I love to go kayaking, and I do it almost every day during summer. Pace of life is also different here; it is much calmer. I would recommend living in Finland to anyone who loves nature. I also got my Finnish citizenship and call this place home now”, smiles Dennis.