At the time of graduation, the uncertainty and anxiousness about my future and career were fairly masked by my sense of accomplishment. I was proud of myself for completing my bachelor’s degree six months earlier than expected and with a grade point average of 4.26 out of 5. So, the challenging times kicked in once the celebrations had settled down and I had a lot of major decisions to make. Even though my high GPA allowed me to apply for a master’s degree at any Finnish University, at that time I was not sure which specialization to choose. That is why I decided to get some work experience preferably in the field of marketing so I can make an informed decision in the future.
I graduated during the summer of 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, and it was not the best time for jobseekers like me who were stepping into the market with no prior experience. This meant that there were almost no job openings for non-fluent Finnish speakers in smaller cities like Kouvola and I had to consider a move away from a city where I spent three great years doing my bachelor’s. I would be lying if I said that these major challenges didn’t bother me at the time. After three years of living as a student in Finland, I had three big questions in front of me that were somehow all interconnected. Suddenly, I had to figure out where (and how) to find a job, which meant I had to consider which city to move to next and most importantly, how to get a residence permit for work to prolong my stay and work in Finland.
Useful life lessons
Living in Kouvola for three years and my journey as a student in Xamk had taught me two very useful life lessons. First, patience is key in life, and second, you are more efficient when taking care of one thing at a time. By implementing these lessons during this time of uncertainty, with the help of the part-time job that I had been doing as a student, I got a permanent contract based on my merit, and secured a residence permit for work in Finland. This residence permit enabled me to work in Finland for the next four years, so I got myself some much-needed time to begin my job search for a marketing-based role in my field. Now, even though I had this job in Kouvola, it would not help me improve my technical skills in the long run. So, I quit the job and decided to start my job search in August 2021. At this time, I had been in Finland for more than two years without seeing my family and friends in India, so I decided to pack my bag and visit my home country.
When I reached India, I was delighted to meet my family and friends as well as to eat the food I had been missing all this time. Over there, I decided that I needed to work on my technical skills to become a better marketer and thus, I started studying several online courses in this area. Luckily, I also managed to get an unpaid internship at one of the leading fintech startups in the country, which helped me further sharpen my skillsets and learn professional working etiquette. While the internship took up my days, I dedicated a few hours every evening to apply to work in Finnish companies.. I wrote countless cover letters, and frequently updated my CV. Each time I applied for a position online, I improved my applications and made the whole process more structured but unfortunately, it didn’t lead to any good results. As my time in India was coming to an end, I managed to get only a handful of replies from these applications. I became disheartened. The recruiters usually selected me for the next stage and then assigned a task, but I never heard back after my submission. To be honest, receiving no reply rather than a negative reply felt worse. I began to overthink and doubt my chances of finding a decent marketing job in Finland. But still, I kept my head up high and with some guidance from my mentors at Xamk and my father, decided to try even harder.
Then in the middle of December 2021, I had my flight back to Helsinki. After coming back to Finland, I decided to take a break as it was the holiday season and then get back to applying in the new year. Being in Finland, I realized that I could improve my approach by knocking on doors at the offices of companies that posted vacancies on online portals. I took full advantage of this, printed a few CVs, prepared a draft pitch, and tried it out in Kouvola. Even though I often didn’t get the result I desired, this was by far the best learning experience. Every time I walked into a new office, my pitch improved from the last time, and this helped me to get more confidence. But since Kouvola is not a metropolis, there weren’t many companies left to apply after a week. This reinforced the fact that it was now time to leave. Helsinki was my destination, as the capital of Finland it offered more opportunities for an international graduate. Even though it was a bit of a reckless idea, I decided to give myself a timeline and handed in my month’s notice on my apartment. I had a new goal of finding a decent job in Helsinki before I moved. As time passed, I realized that I needed to expand my options and also started applying for roles in human resources, public relations, sales, and customer success. These were all courses that I had studied during my time at Xamk.
Then one day I stumbled upon a job ad for a Customer Success Specialist at a Finnish SaaS company by the name of Documill and I sent an application. Then a few days later, I received a reply from my application. In the email, they mentioned that the Customer Success Specialist role required coding and programming skills, and so I had not been selected. Instead, that email had a link to their website for an open position for a marketing specialist, and since my CV and cover letter fulfilled their requirements for that position, they reached out and invited me for an interview.
The first interview with the Product Marketing Manager at Documill went quite well, and I was assigned a task to be completed in a specific time frame. I presented the results of my task in our next interview. Once the interview and our discussion concluded, I was told to wait for their decision. I was quite surprised when the CEO requested me to submit the articles that I had written for the INSIDER student magazine at Xamk, my bachelor’s thesis, and my study transcript. A couple of days passed by, and I went back to applying for jobs in the Helsinki region but on the evening of 24 January, I received a full-time employment offer for the role of Marketing Specialist at Documill.
My first proffessinal job
This was an unbelievable moment as the offer was much better than what I initially expected for my first professional job. I was also happy because I had finally found a role that matched my skills perfectly and was in the field of my specialization. The best part was that my new role started right when I was supposed to move to Helsinki. As Documill is the largest Salesforce-focused independent software vendor (ISV) in the Nordics, I was very happy to accept this offer to join their team and work together to further help Salesforce-powered enterprises digitalize their core sales processes. I was proud of myself because, after a long year and countless applications, I felt like my hard work was now finally paying off.
I am soon going to complete my first six months at Documill as a Marketing Specialist. During this time, my responsibilities have mainly revolved around creating new content for the company that can be used further on their website as well as social media channels. My favourite part about this job is that I continue to learn and grow. Every day I learn something new about being a marketer, the work culture in Finland, and life in the Uusimaa region. If you are interested to know more about my new role and the responsibilities that come with it, you might find this article interesting.
My tips for students
Finally, I want to mention some points from my experience which I hope you will find motivating if you are still in the middle of your studies or trying to find a job after graduation:
- Being an active student is not just good for your grades, but also helps you develop certain skills that may come in handy in your job search. In my case, my experience as a writer for INSIDER magazine at Xamk played a huge role.
- Consider your practical training options carefully. Don’t just choose the easiest option available for the sake of getting the credits. Your practical training is meant to get you some experience in the field of your specialization, that’s why it’s important that you choose it very wisely. In case you have any trouble finding practical training in your field, you can also consider Xamk’s own projects. My experience as a Social Media Marketing Intern for the ESGE project at Xamk, was super valuable in getting experience in marketing, helped me to grow my network, get the required credits for my course and most importantly, gave me a topic for my thesis.
- Life in slow-paced Finnish cities can teach you many essential life lessons. You might get bored while doing your studies in small Finnish cities, but try to make the most out of this experience. My time in Kouvola taught me about the importance of patience. Take time to appreciate the calmness and beauty of small cities – you often cannot find it in large cities, so enjoy it while you can!
- Most importantly (and a little cliché), every time you are faced with failure in your journey, take a moment to reflect upon it and then this can become a transformative learning experience to help you overcome obstacles in the future.
- Being realistic with your goals and setting time constraints for what you want to achieve are equally as important.
Good luck with your journey!
– Sharma Prakhar