"Finland is incredibly talented and hardworking" - Jennifer Johnson
This is a second part of our interview with Jennifer Johnsson. If you missed the first, have a look at it here.
Jennifer's new employment as the head coach of the Y-Kampus program Growthmakers in Finland, is different from the previous ones. She is more accustomed to the urgency of having tight deadlines, high accountability and having distrust in her work life. In comparison, she has been told while working in Finland, to rest more instead of hurrying with her tasks and not to overload herself. This has been a learning experience for Jen to adapt to.
When comparing the countries where Jennifer lived and worked in, the mindsets differentiate a lot. Everybody Jen has met in Finland is incredibly talented and hardworking. “It is a different way to look at the world, and my way of looking at the world has been very focused on achievement and that is where I find my worth. So now I am learning how to find my worth in other ways” Jen says about living in Finland compared with the US and India.
Jen shares an example that shows the difference that affects our mindset, through her work experiences in the US and now in Finland. In America, she had 11 days of vacation plus 8 public holidays summing up to 19 days. Those days included sick days too, so if she unfortunately would become ill, the administration would deduct those days from her vacation days. Therefore, it was a shock to her when she once went to the doctor in Finland and was told to stay at home and rest instead of going to work until she was feeling better. This did not affect in any way her vacation days.
Jennifer’s advice to foreigners living in Finland is: “Know that it takes time, but also know that you need to be intentional about your time. It takes time to find work, make friends, and settle into a new country and culture. You need to be the one intentional about it. You need to be the one following up on emails. You need to be the one inviting people over. You need to be the one asking for information. But if you do that, you will succeed, and people will be surprised by the way you go about your life. It will set you apart and help you to better place yourself in society and your professional life.”
Hiring internationals seems to scare employers in the public sector. Integrating an English-speaking international into the workplace means changing the communication language in emails. Even though the HR system is in Finnish, the hired person can ask for help, and from Jennifer’s experience, Finns happily assist and help the employee to get to know their way around with the system. A lot of the companies she spoke to know the value of having an international mindset and skill set in their office but are worried that it will take too much work to integrate them. All they need to do is be open, welcoming and ready to speak to them in English. It is not as hard as it seems, and there will be different learning curves for all parties involved, but in the end, it will be worth it.
Jennifer's mission is to increase the awareness that diversity spurs innovation. Especially as the market in Finland is becoming more and more saturated. Companies have to look outside if they wish to increase revenue, market or customer base. The best way to do so is to hire people with that international mindset and experience. She believes that governmental or organisational support for companies that wish to hire internationals, but are not fully sure how to do so, could be the way to push forward. Also, starting with small steps and hiring talents for intern positions or short-term projects, could be the beginning of having an international employee in the company.