As a student ambassador at the University, Jonathon became a well-known face in Turku's international community
Before moving to Finland in 2017, Jonathon had completed studies in Philosophy and Education at Durham University and worked in his home country. Jonathon did not start studying at University of Turku straight away. Instead, he, as many other adult immigrants, registered for the integration programs offered by the Unemployment Services (Te-palvelut). After a year, he joined the Futures Studies programme at Turku School of Economics.
(Image by: Rabbit Visuals)
Student, ambassador, mentor, advisor
During his studies, Jonathon became one of the very first UTU ambassadors. A diverse group of international students who became representatives of the University, but also of other international students within University. His active participation in different events, hosting and acting as speaker during his time as ambassador and continuing to this day, has made him a recognizable face in the international community in Turku.
It was also during this time that Jonathon began his career in Finland.
While he is not technically an alumnus yet, Jonathon is spending less time at University because he is working full-time as talent advisor at International House Turku. His path to this job was full of short-term contracts, internships, periods of unemployment, networking, and volunteering. It hasn’t been easy, but he has achieved a lot in a short time. It was through connections in one of these internships that he learned about the opening positions, applied for them, and eventually was hired. An added challenge for Jonathon in this recruitment process was that it was almost entirely in Finnish which he described as “scary! But also a great experience, which would have been very useful even I hadn’t got the job.”
“There’s no magic path to work in Finland”
His current work and living through the challenges of an international living in Turku have motivated Jonathon to share his knowledge and experiences beyond his role as talent advisor. Therefore, he agreed to become a mentor in the Mentoring program organized by the Career Services at University of Turku.
“I didn’t necessarily feel super qualified as a careers coach … but then I thought, maybe I do actually have something … I can tell people what I actually did”
In this role, he helped international students navigate the job seeking process in Finland according to their needs. They met once a month and kept constant communication, shared CV and application letters and discussed the differences, similarities, and aspects they could all improve (including Jonathon himself), he even organized mock interviews with his colleagues at International House Turku for the students to practice in a real professional setting and got feedback from his colleagues.
Discussions with his mentees also included the specific challenges of living and working as an international student in Finland, worker rights, worker unions in Finland, the work culture in Finland and how internationals may struggle to be let in. He also shared with them tips on specific peculiarities of job seeking in Finland like how to network online, filter job searches and finding hidden jobs.
Jonathon says that this experience gave him a chance to help others, pay forward all the help he got in his own career path in Turku and reflect on his own professional goals. As a bonus, he got to share many good lunches with the students and built new professional connections.
“Network, network, network”
With peers and superiors, in events and just anywhere, try to make a good impression so people remember you. Turku and the whole of Southwest Finland is small and anyone you meet can become a professional connection. Many of the opportunities Jonathon has had he credits to being ready when the time came; having the connections made and a CV ready might be a game changer when it comes to getting a job.
“Start learning Finnish”
Jonathon suggests going above and beyond the mandatory language courses at University. You don’t have to aim to be fluent in a short time, but learning the language makes living in Finland easier in general and looks good for recruiters.
“Be open to opportunities outside of your comfort zone”
As Jonathon has experienced himself and heard from some of his clients at International House Turku, most immigrants coming to Finland with any kind of work experience in their field, find themselves starting from zero in Finland. This might be very discouraging, but Jonathon points out that even if you cannot continue the career or have a similar role as in your home country, you can still have the skills and knowhow to do something new in Finland.