“Be brave enough to ask for help, but also be ready to help others” - Yuliya Nesterenko
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
This week’ star is Yuliya Nesterenko, who quotes herself as being “a digital marketer by day and public speaker by night”. She built up her personal brand while setting down in Finland and recently becoming a Finnish citizen.
Finland was not always the obvious option for Yuliya. Originally from Kazakstan, Yuliya first planned to apply to study at a polytechnic university in St. Petersburg. But deep down inside, she knew that becoming an engineer was not her cup of tea. After searching for free online educational opportunities, she came across Finland. That involved one year of preparation and studying English almost from scratch. Her parents only knew of her plans when Yuliya was invited to participate in the entrance exam. Her hard work paid off and she got accepted to study in Finland. Her Finnish adventure began six years ago when Yuliya’s brother travelled with her to Mikkeli. With a mixed feeling of freedom and responsibility to take up, this was the beginning of adult life for Yuliya.
“Break a leg” means good luck in theatre circles. This was literally the case for Yuliya who kicked off her professional career in Finland during her first year of study. She broke her leg and had to walk with crunches from café to a café, office to office in search of a job. The third day she got lucky and obtained her first job at Visit Mikkeli. What she learned from that time is to “be ready to break down some barriers and prove yourself and your skills in-person. “
Years later, Yuliya was in the process of writing her thesis when got received a full-time work opportunity. She was an active student, volunteer and worked for free to help start-ups – all about building a network and making yourself noticeable. Her career grew from working at Demola as “a social media girl” into a project manager in various EU-funded projects. Presently, Yuliya works as digital marketer helping to connect best innovations with corporates at a company called Catapult. Following her second passions, public speaking, Yuliya can be spotted on hosting on different event as well as talking about immigration. You can see one of her talk at TedX Oslo, "World's bravest change-makers" here.
However, work life has not always been easy because of cultural differences. One story Yuliya still laughs about recalls a moment when she submitted her first big assignment to her boss at that time asking for feedback. “It’s okay” was the answer Yuliya received. At first, she got all stressed out thinking she didn’t do well and might get fired. Later did she understand that it’s part of the Finnish culture to be a bit reserved in giving feedback. Nowadays she is able to translate what she hears, knowing that “okay” means “good, “good” means “excellent”, and “I like you” means “I love you”.
Something we can learn from Yuliya is that nothing comes for free and it takes “sisu” as we say in Finland, to become successful. To be humble enough to admit there are still things to learn and at the same time, to pursue your goals and passions with determination.
“Be brave enough to ask help, but also be ready to help others” Yuliya says. “Pay it forward” is Yuliya’s personal commitment and a great initiative we can all implement into our lives. Every week, Yuliya dedicates a few hours of her time to help others – to give back to the community and exchange services instead of cash.
To summarize, there are three main points Yuliya wants to share with job seekers:
1. Do free work and volunteer to help (especially start-ups).
2. Network. Be active in building your network and help the people in it.
3. Personal brand - often underestimated, it is important to think about how you present yourself in both digital and non-digital environments.
… and important greetings for businesses:
Referring to her current workplace Catapult, this is the type of approach Yuliya would like to see more. At Catapult, the nationality or knowledge of Finnish language don’t matter – they focus on finding the right mindset and skills.
“Mixing people together from different backgrounds makes a work environment more interesting and gives a chance to learn more from each other and improve team’ dynamics. It can be scary to hire your first international. That’s okay because change is scary,” Yuliya says. “Be brave enough to break the ice with one person and see how it goes from there.”