Freeha Hussain landed a traineeship already after her first term at the University of Vaasa. She graduated in May 2022 and is now working full time as an HR specialist in a global team at Wärtsilä. Freeha points out that the help and support from counsellors and programme managers are extremely valuable and really made a difference in her career path.
Freeha Hussain has a Master’s in strategic HR from her studies in Pakistan. Her interest in Finland and especially the Finnish way of working sparked as she heard about Finland from her professors, who had studied in Finland.
I did a lot of research on different universities, programmes and possible scholarships in Finland. The master’s programme in International Business at the University of Vaasa stood out. Imagine my happiness, when I applied and received a scholarship and finally was able to come to Finland!
Successful studying and networking in Vaasa – despite the pandemic
Freeha arrived in Vaasa in the middle of the pandemic lockdown (autumn 2020). The campus was practically closed for the first year. All lectures, meetings and activities were online.
I started to feel a bit unproductive, although I was studying full time. In Pakistan, I was working, so I decided that I would do everything I could to get a job. I started to engage with people and seek out different activities and events to network and get to know people. I took on a lot of extra activities besides my regular studies, and it paid off in the end. One of the first events I attended was a Talent Coastline event. Whenever I met new people, I added them on LinkedIn and started networking. This also helped me overcome loneliness and depressive feelings during the lockdown.
Through the master’s programme in International Business, Freeha was offered a mentor for her first six months. The mentor helped her understand the Finnish social system and figure out some of the cultural differences and get a deeper understanding of the Finnish culture.
Through her mentor, Freeha also got valuable insights into Finnish company life. This boosted her courage to start networking, make contacts and finally apply for a traineeship.
I would also like to underline the meaning of the help and contact persons provided for me: my study counsellor, my programme manager and my mentor. They really listened to me and my interests. I felt heard and cared for. It still amazes me how their priority was always my well-being. There is amazing flexibility in the study programme, and I could make it suit me and my goals. I think studying and working in Finland is easy. Well-being at work is really a top priority.
Working in Vaasa with colleagues from all over the world
After completing her studies, she is now working as an HR specialist at Wärtsilä. She is taking care of different HR tasks in a global team mainly responsible for Northern and Eastern Europe.
Freeha points out that it is normal to have colleagues from all over the world in Vaasa. The city has a lot of activities and services for foreigners. Universities in the city are doing a great job in supporting students, as well as the city of Vaasa that supports the integration into the society. Freeha predicts that many more international students will remain and work here in the future.
I just love Vaasa! It’s a small, beautiful town by the sea, and it’s all about nature. Nature is never far away. You have the forest nearby, and it is so easy to go there walking or riding a bicycle. After my workday, I usually go for a walk in the forest or a bicycle tour. Nature helps me recharge my batteries.
Freeha may continue her studies at the University of Vaasa in the future. She is dreaming about doctoral studies but will first gather experience from business life for a few years.
I never get bored in Vaasa. I want to stay here forever! Finland is the place where I want to live. The collaborative way of working is something I enjoy. It would be great to learn Finnish, even though many companies here use English as their working language, and you can manage your everyday life in English. Since I want to stay here, I most certainly will learn Finnish.
Freeha’s top tips: how to succeed in Finland
- Be proactive! Ask questions, ask for help and people will help you.
- Build your network, both professionally and socially.
- Learn the culture. For example, sometimes you may feel excluded in the groups, as Finns tend to go straight to the point without much chit chat. If you understand the culture, you will know that this is very normal.
- Use the services that the university and the city provide. Study counsellors, programme managers, mentors, talent boost programmes, etc. They are there for you. You will get used to the light nights and dark days. Buy a daylight lamp for dark winter days and blinds that block the light on summer nights.