Hey lovely international students! In addition to the series of texts dedicated to job hunting in Finland, I would like to put your attention into finding and doing an internship, which is not the less important issue for your studies and career. From my own experience I can tell you what the pros of doing internship are and what kind of stepping stones you will most likely face on your way to get one in Finland.
Internship enables you to take your career plan for a test drive. At some point, you find out tasks in which you are good at and things you are enjoying to produce or manage. You may also discover gaps between classroom learning and what you need to know in the real world. Ideally, you are able to strategize how you will fill those gaps. An internship provides an opportunity to improve your personal skills and to build a network. Last but not least, doing an internship will build your CV. Any kind of experience in your resume is helpful, although career-relevant internship experience will make a better impression on employers.
Finding an internship may seem challenging, however, it is possible as long as you do not give up. For me it took almost eight months to find my current work placement in the Finland-Russia Society (Suomi-Venäjä-Seura). To find an internship may be problematic for international students due to a considerable amount of internship advertisements in Finnish. First and foremost, students have to expand their networks and let everyone know they are searching for an internship. Second, sometimes you can find advertisements on the websites, for example Aarresaari.net, Mol.fi and even JobsinHelsinki.com.
Talking about applications, a career planning workshop helped me substantially to improve my skills in writing a motivation letter and editing my CV. Talent Tampere Mentoring Program for International Talents organized by the university could be an option for second year master students for expanding their knowledge about existing organizations. Overall, I have applied for more than 20 places including the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce, YLE, Finn Facts, Finnish Institute of Foreign Affairs, Demo Finland, so on, so forth, and I was even contacting organizations for checking whether they need interns without any job announcements.
The University of Tampere encourages students to do internships either in Finland or abroad. Finland has a specific feature: it supports those who are eager to learn and to make input into research and the society by getting out of the box. That is why you can apply for Erasmus work placement grants and travel grants as well as for grants for Finnish companies. It must be emphasized that Finland in general, especially UTA, has a unique approach to interns’ financial support. Students can apply for financial support from the university in which case the employer has to pay you a minimum wage of 1187 EUR / month. Competition of students at UTA is based on their motivation for doing an internship and number of credits gained prior the application period. In this sense, there is no point to compare Finnish support system and attitude at the working place towards interns with the situation, for example, in Norway, Belgium or Russia.
Tips from Yuliya how to get an internship:
- Identify your strengths (languages, skills, experience) and market yourself according to them.
- Communicate with potential employers: make phone calls and meet employers face-to-face.
- Ask for advice from the coordinators and supervisors at the university.
- Contact as many places as you can.
- Acquire recommendation letters from your supervisor and professors.
- Expand your network and attend job fairs.
With the steps mentioned above you will succeed. Just do not hesitate, use this chance and go for the internship!