In this week’s episode, we welcome Lorena to our podcast. Lorena moved from Colombia to the USA for studies, but then decided to look for opportunity in other countries. Through her job at Nokia, she was able to find a job outside of the USA. After a year working in Budapest, Lorena was offered a position in Finland. We chatted with Lorena about the work culture in Finland, her experience attempting to socialize, and her work in Finland. Read on to learn more about Lorena’s experience, or give episode 30 a listen.
Lorena finds the work culture in Finland to be very unique: she would describe it as a culture of respect, both among workers and from the company and management. The work-life balance is exceptional, there is no hierarchy among workers, and strong unions make for strong workers rights. Her working space does not have unnecessary work stress, and she enjoys four weeks of paid vacation each year. Lorena works remotely as a part of the world team, and travels often outside of the country.
Lorena arrived in Finland during the winter, and the darkening weather made the apartment searching process and sorting out paperwork even more difficult. Despite the challenges she faced, she was able to find a place in about a month. After settling in, Lorena set about building community in her new home. Because the work culture differed from that of Colombia, she did find establishing workplace relationships to be more difficult in Finland. Instead, she found herself attending social events in the city of Helsinki.
In an attempt to socialize outside of the workspace, Lorena visited a women's cafe in English. It was run by Luckan, an organization that helps foreigners integrate socially and culturally into Finnish society. Luckan, which receives government support, operates in English. In Lorena’s experience, the organization was open and eager to help!
In addition to visiting English events organized by Luckan, Lorena joined the Global Shapers organization. They help to organize social and cultural improvement events and projects in a variety of arenas including mental health and the environment. They meet once a month. As an example they are working on a project about street art. Hellen, the electric company, gave money to paint 6 electrical boxes, all resources are provided. The community is pretty happy about that.
Other resources for community outreach that Lorena takes part in include: BlaBla language exchange cafes, where you can go to practice language and socialize at the same time, Women in Tech, an organisation that offers both working and casual meetings for women working in the tech industry, and Internations, a company that organises events like hikes and teas.
Lorena recognizes the importance of safety in developing a sense of well-being and loves the safety she feels in Finland. She once forgot to shut her door during a month-long vacation, and nothing was taken. She also appreciates the ease with which public transportation operates in Finland.
Another aspect of Finnish culture that Lorena appreciates is its exceptional gender equality. Coming from Latin America, it was a pleasant surprise for Lorena to discover that Finland is ahead of even Germany and Hungary in terms of equal opportunities for higher positions.
When Lorena began working for Nokia, she was a student volunteer living in Colombia. She then became a member of a Nokia leadership program in Brazil. She feels lucky to have used this opportunity to explore outside of her country of origin.
When asked for advice for those considering a move to Finland, Lorena stressed the importance of remembering that you are in charge of your own experience. She believes that a positive attitude and a willingness to find opportunities for yourself are required in order to have a good experience in Finland. Even though it is hard to find a job in Finland, she advises, it is not impossible! She suggests starting by working on your attitude and your network, and being intentional about how you want to live your life.