Focus your job hunting on organisations where your background, education, language and experiences are considered advantages
12 June 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.
Xiaoying Wang was born and raised in Zhengzhou in the Henan province, located in the central part of China. Zhengzhou City has a long history and was once one of the eight ancient capitals of China. Zhengzhou has more than 10 million inhabitants and is named one of the 13 emerging mega-cities in China.
How did you end up in Finland?
Right after high-school graduation, I was considering studying abroad but was not sure where. I was informed that a Finnish university was arranging an entrance exam in Shanghai and I thought why not. Everything went very smoothly, I passed and the rest is history.
I came to Finland in 2009 to study for a Bachelor’s degree right after high school graduation back home in China. 3 years later, I decided to continue studying and pursue a Master’s degree at Lund University in Sweden. Right before graduation, I got a job offer from KONE, moved back to Finland and settled here in Helsinki. Now it has been almost 10 years living in Finland.
How did you start and set up your new life in Finland?
I would say that studying here has helped me greatly to enter the workforce, not only did it provide me with the knowledge and skills required professionally but it also gave me a better understanding of what companies and organisations are out there. Also, having a university teacher/professor/mentor who sees your potential and is willing to recommend you is extremely important. I had an amazing mentor who helped me land my first job. Over the years, I had a few more mentors, they all helped me to think, learn, grow, and reflect. Besides, I am a strong believer in continuous learning to stay relevant and build self-confidence in my professional career.
What challenges in the working life in Finland have you encountered?
The main obstacles I have experienced and a key lesson I have learned is to have the self-confidence to be present, speak up, and get my voice heard. I found this very true during my first few years into my working life, I was more cautious, as I was trying to learn, adapt, and figure out my place. Now that it has been 7 years in the working life, I have made huge progress. As I say to myself, don’t ever let anyone take the self-confidence away from you, no matter which point of life you are in.
What do you see as the main value of international professionals working in Finland?
I see that international professionals, particularly young international talents who are fresh out of schools, have so much to offer. They tend to have great passion, strong inner drive, an eagerness to learn, and get started to be able to contribute. Besides the positive energy they bring, they also come with fresh ideas and different backgrounds to make the overall organisation culture more dynamic.
How would you comment on the language matter? Do you feel you need Finnish/Swedish?
At KONE, English is the main working language, so I don’t feel the need of speaking Finnish in professional life. However, not all companies are the same. Therefore, I can imagine the local language can be a key barrier to meeting the job requirements. From a social perspective, I do find speaking the local language brings lots of social benefits.
What is your message to international job seekers in Finland?
I have to admit it is challenging but don’t give up too easily. Focus your job hunting energy on organisations where your background, education, language and experiences are considered advantages. Think about what makes you unique and different from others, what you can offer on the table, and turn that into your strengths in your cover letter. Proactively reaching out to the people who might be able to help you. Like we always say, it doesn’t cost anything to ask.
What is your message to companies employing people in Finland?
There are a lot of amazing international talents out there, with the knowledge, skill, experience, and inner drive to offer. Don’t discard their application too quickly, give them a chance to get to know a little bit better, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
If you are an international professional living in Finland, you can register your CV with Pointer Potential here.