Yohannes Loga, originally from Ethiopia, landed in Finland to study Media Engineering at Evtek University of Applied Sciences, after having considered Holland as a place to study.
What has your educational and professional journey in Finland been like?
I have an electrical-electronics degree from Ethiopia but have always wanted to do software development. I initially applied to a university in Holland, but it was too expensive and chose to come to Finland instead. I studied Media Engineering at Evtek University of Applied Sciences. I had a lot of memorable experiences there before completing my degree. It was exciting when in a group of four, we represented our school and took second place in a Microsoft software competition. It did wonders for my CV! For my internship, I worked on a successful project in a start-up and then landed my first job as a software developer before I graduated. I got both opportunities through the recommendation of a lecturer and I’m forever grateful to him. I have worked in 3 companies since then and feel very happy in the company I am in now called Digital Illustrated.
What are you career plans?
In software development, technologies are not constant. I therefore want to do more related studies to advance my career. When you are not continuously learning, you are left behind and not truly building yourself. I would also like to study architecture in software development. It complements what I am already doing and will allow me to advance in my career. I do not know what I will be doing in 5 years because my possibilities are endless and not confined to dates and such specifics.
How often do you need Finnish at work with colleagues and clients?
Every day, our team meetings on software development specifications are given in Finnish. I do understand Finnish well, and usually, ask questions in English where it is not clear. Finnish is very important in my day-to-day life because even though many of our clients speak English fluently, they would prefer to speak Finnish. I am one of the two foreigners in our company, so Finnish is also important in our many social activities with colleagues. Sometimes I do feel like my Finnish skills may impede my career but only if I allow it. My career path is not that narrow or restrained so I believe I will be fine. It is all about perspective.
What have been some of your greatest lessons working in Finland that you could share with international talents here?
A Finnish lecturer once advised me to always notify my supervisor when I am unable to complete a project on time. You may not have control over how people view or treat you but speak your mind. Do not be intrusive. That is a start. Finns warm up to you when you are honest. I have never felt like an outsider and have created lifelong bonds with my Finnish colleagues. I am comfortable telling them stories about where I come from. Share your background story with people. Bring some colour and richness to the team.
Play your part in learning Finnish and integrating. It is important to not get discouraged despite the hurdles you come across for being different because if you are open, you can build many solutions.
Why is diversity important to organisations in Finland?
Many companies work through teamwork. In software coding, our teams build ideas and solve problems. This makes it important to have diverse people who can see things from different perspectives and create something functional together. It also allows us to create programmes that can be used by people in many different countries and cultures and not just those who are exactly like us. Companies have greater results in diverse teams. Social settings and lifelong bonds are created at work making diversity a good thing!
Interview by Mary Waweru
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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.
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