The We Work-series

Diversity works when all parties see it as a positive

8 May 2020

More than 400 000 people with an international background live in Finland. In Helsinki alone every sixth person has a background other than Finnish. The We Work-series shares glimpses of the real life stories of international professionals living and working in Finland.

Abdullah Jarkas was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. Abdullah has a bachelor’s degree in economics and about 10 years of experience in the finance and banking sector.

Abdullah Jarkas - We Work Pointer Potential

How did you end up in Finland?

I came to Finland about 4 years ago as a refugee. 

How did you start and set up your new life in Finland?

What helped me the most to start my new life in Finland was building relationships and networks in the country, it was important to tie new friendships and also professional relations, finding mentors you could say. Studying has also helped me to find my place here and really gave me good reference points to know where I stand in the Finnish job market. Whether it be language studies, courses or the master’s degree I am currently studying. Through studying, I had the opportunity to meet people in a similar life situation, around my age and learn about their skills, education and careers.

Is there a challenge in the working life in Finland that you could do without?

The main challenge has been the language, there is quite a high expectation in the job market for foreigners to speak fluent Finnish. Language is important, speaking Finnish in most parts of the country will help, if the level is good enough but what is good enough? Personally I speak English mostly but not many companies operate with English as the main language. I speak some Swedish which I mostly use for government matters. 

Sometimes my foreign or different background can be seen as an obstacle for employers, rather than a strength. It is also a pity that most of the time my education, skills and experience obtained outside of Finland is disregarded.

What do you see as the main value of international professionals working in Finland?

The main value international professional bring to the work force in Finland is different and new perspectives, an international view. The Finnish job market also benefits from different sets of skills and personalities that could fit really well in certain types of jobs.

What is your message to international job seekers in Finland?

My message is to not doubt themselves and it is good to get used to being different and use it as an asset. Also, quality over quantity, focus on people who are willing to connect, be your friend and give a hand rather than building random relations.

What is your message to companies employing people in Finland?

I think it would be good if they at least give a chance to international professionals if they can, in most cases they will actually gain much more than they expected. Diversity works when all parties see it as a positive, accept it and view it as an asset. It gives the company new perspectives, new markets, new opportunities, the list goes on. It adds another layer of depth and potential.


If you are an international professional living in Finland, you can register your CV with Pointer Potential here.