Laurea Forerunner Magazine met Laurea alumni Anna Grinberg and Kwame Afreh.
In total, Laurea’s English-language degree programmes have more than 500 international students. Kwame Afreh from Ghana and Anna Grinberg from Germany have both studied at Laurea and stayed in Finland to work after graduation.
Kwame first heard about studying in Finland from a friend who was a student here and praised the standard of Finnish education. Kwame started his studies in the Environmental Engineering programme at Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Kuopio. The focus of the studies was to a great extent on physics, but he was more interested in business subjects. Consequently, he decided to change fields and applied to Laurea’s Business Information Technology programme.
Anna, on the other hand, moved to Finland from Germany with her Finnish husband. Anna had studied the law in her home country but soon noticed that in Finland, it was difficult to find work in the private sector with her educational background. She decided to pursue business studies and selected the University of Applied Sciences, as she preferred a more practical approach as a counterbalance for her previous degree. Anna completed her Business Management programme and is currently pursuing further studies at the Hanken School of Economics.
Entrepreneurial studies in a multicultural group
Kwame’s year had students from 18 different countries, and he found the multiculturalism to be one of the best aspects of his studies. Additionally, the teaching method was completely different from that used in Ghana.
- In each study unit I took, we completed authentic working–life projects. Seeing the links between what I had studied and my work was really important for me after graduation, Kwame explains.
In addition to the teaching methods, Anna especially remembers the entrepreneurship studies and the entrepreneurial attitude to studying. She completed several different study units on entrepreneurship during her studies.
- Starting from the first course where they introduced Laurea to us, everything felt very fresh and the teachers were more like mentors to us. In addition, I had a brilliant thesis supervisor from whom I learned a lot, Anna explains.
Anna now runs a family business with her husband. Anna also wrote her thesis on her entrepreneurial journey from a business idea to a business concept.
Anna and two other participants have also established an association called Work and Life Skills, where she is the executive director. The purpose of the association is to improve the presentation and public speaking skills in schools.
Be active and network during your studies
Kwame stresses the importance of taking the initiative and being active during the studies. He got involved in many types of activities during his time at Laurea and also completed three work placements in Finland.
Kwame did one of his work placements at Viope Solutions, a company specializing in e-learning platforms for teaching and learning coding and mathematics. He conducted market research in the African market for the company. After his work placement, he was hired as a sales manager for Africa and Northern Europe. In 2013, he joined Webropol Oy and now works there as a Project Manager.
- If you would like to work in Finland after your studies, you should start building your professional network right from the start. It means going to workshops, conferences, etc, and doing your work placement in Finland, Kwame explains.
Kwame points out that even if a graduate does not speak perfect Finnish, knowledge of your field and topic and self-confidence play a larger role in getting a job. However, Anna stresses that if you work in sales, Finnish skills are essential. Some aspects of marketing are also very culture -and language-specific.
Kwame has been actively involved in Laurea’s activities since his graduation, among other things as a visiting lecturer and a participant in the Career Day event organised at Laurea. Anna has also lectured to Laurea students about public speaking and pitching. Kwame will also be part of the mentoring programme at Laurea.
Anna has been involved in Laurea Entrepreneurial Society activities and sought to change them to be a more international. The number of international students participating in ES activities has now increased considerably, and English is used as a language of communication.
This article has originally been published in the latest Laurea Forerunner Magazine issue 1/2018. Read the online version of the magazine here.