Frank Berenschot came to Finland from the Netherlands to be with his Finnish girlfriend, since then he has been interning, studying and working. This is his story.
What has your educational and professional journey in Finland been like?
I moved here from the Netherlands, to be with my Finnish girlfriend. A month after, I worked for 6 months as a development operations intern for the company Management Events in Helsinki. After the internship ended, I created a Facebook page displaying my love for building bicycles. Through this page, I was offered a 6-month work try-out position as a community manager for a Finnish bicycle shop which was in collaboration with the Employment Office. At the same time, I started my business studies at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences as an open-path student. After a year, I enrolled for a full-time bachelor’s degree in International Business Management with a focus on Marketing. I find the education here is stronger compared to other countries as it is more geared towards teaching how to think, develop oneself and evaluate your learning, as opposed to knowing specific things. It makes you able to validate and critically analyse information which makes you more adaptable in a work environment. After a digital marketing internship, I worked for two and a half years in sales for a software company in Helsinki, called TrademarkNow. I froze my studies to fully focus on that role until they let me go. It was a very disheartening period for me. At this point, we had bought a house and my priorities had shifted from completing my studies to making mortgage payments. Four months after the employment ended, I started my current work as a global CRM coordinator for ALLU.
What are your career plans?
I aspire to be an entrepreneur and want to develop my skills. In the past, I have done CRM integrations and have always liked how I can, in the background, create processes to automate them and make things and people’s lives easier. I would like to be a consultant through international corporations as an independent contractor. I want to see if that works in the next 2 to 3 years. However, I want to focus more on my skills and remain open to different opportunities. It is fantastic to have goals and aspirations but the journey to a goal is more important. We just went through a global pandemic which has taught me to live in the now.
How often do you need Finnish at work with colleagues and clients?
Currently, while working at ALLU Group I am not fluent in Finnish and do not use or need it there since it is an international company and the company language is English. I do however understand Finnish when spoken to. When a company is trying to be international, you cannot constrain yourself to just the local language. Currently, I have colleagues in other leadership roles who are not Finnish natives thus we all use English at work.
What have been some of your greatest lessons working in Finland that you could share with international talents here?
Having trust in yourself is the greatest attribute. We are living in a world where some people are more uplifted than others. CEOs, for example, may feel distant from you, but they are still human. Be yourself and know you are doing the correct thing according to your own values. This is important in a world where you do not really know what others are doing. Do not compare yourself with others. Instead, compare yourself to the person you were a year before and focus on developing yourself. As a foreigner, you have unique abilities that make you stand out. There is only one of you. That is your asset. You can adapt to multiple environments which is your strongest attribute in finding a career.
Why is diversity important to organisations in Finland?
Finland has been a secluded country. As it is now, it does have a long way to go in the inclusion of immigrants. There is a great culture here, but you need diversity to export it and to be international. Finnish values like work-life balance are great. We need immigrants to sell this abroad. I want to sell Finnish culture! Finland is light years ahead compared to the Netherlands because there is more freedom here. Diversity does not mean you lose your heritage, but understanding different perspectives are important.
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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