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Graduate Ali Najafi shares his strategies to find a job in Finland: “Do not advertise you don’t speak Finnish. First tell, what are your assets”

“Studies at Laurea prepared me well for the job market. They were very diverse; they gave me a chance to learn more about myself and develop my professional skills”, says Ali, BBA graduate.

Ali, originally from Iran, came to Finland in 2015 with a goal to study Business Management at Laurea. He has been interested in business development and strategic problem-solving. Besides the degree itself, he chose Laurea because of its Learning by Developing methods. This practical approach allows students to be involved in many projects during their studies.

“While I was learning the theoretical knowledge I could also put this knowledge into practice. I have done several projects and internships. We worked with companies on real projects. I have learned a lot”.

The idea for Ali’s thesis grew up while he was working for the Kämp Hotel in downtown Helsinki. It was a summer job and Ali worked with the event management and in the restaurant. The thesis was about the comparison between staff outsource and in-house staffing in food and beverage operation in Kämp Hotel. Ali graduated with the highest note.

CV workshops, networking and mentoring with Laurea

From the first year of his studies at Laurea, Ali Najafi has been working to cover the living expenses. There were summer jobs, part-time jobs, and of course work placements. He had done both of the student’s internships in the International Affairs Office at Laurea. He has been very active in the job market and he used all the possibilities to stand out. He admits though, that at the beginning it was very hard. He was new to the country, with no network and no work experience.

“I attended several networking events and job fairs. For example, Laurea organizes Network to Get work event, where students can approach the companies, present themselves and network. I highly recommend a big recruitment event Contact Forum, which takes place in Messukeskus in Helsinki once a year. With hundreds of companies participating, you get a good opportunity for networking”, he says.

Ali focused on his CV, he built a good LinkedIn profile, and he worked hard on each application letter. He participated in CV workshops offered by Laurea. Ali also took a chance to participate in a mentoring programme COME EntryPoint, organized by Helsinki Chamber of Commerce. Laurea advertised the programme that was tailored for international students. “I learnt a lot about the Finnish job market and how to look for a job; I made valuable contacts. It was definitely worth doing”, adds Ali.

Other than that, Ali recommends looking for volunteering jobs at events that allow networking. He volunteered at Slush, a big event on a start-up scene in Finland and already well known worldwide. “By volunteering you gain some work experience, you have a chance to meet people and companies, and maybe your future employer”, he says.

Don’t say you don’t speak Finnish

“You have plenty of assets, many great skills. Do not focus on your not so perfect Finnish”, Ali smiles. From his own experience, he already knows that there are many jobs in the Metropolitan Area that do not require the Finnish language at all or only some basic skills. Of course, if you are fluent in the local language, you get more options. Yet, do not get discouraged by that, find your own assets and present them to the employer.

“Whenever I went to job fairs or networking events, I had my well-prepared CV with me, I knew what I want to say about myself and my skills, and what I could do in a company I approached. I was not shy, I dressed smart and I showed my availability and openness. This is what counts. I focused on what I am good at and what I could offer them”, he says. 

It paid off because right after graduation Ali has signed a job contract. He is going to work as a relocation agent. “I will work with big companies that hire international employees and I will help them with staff mobility. I am very good at communication, I like working with people, so this position suits me very well. In fact, being a foreigner is my asset, because I have my own experience with settling down in a new country”, he sums up.