Second Aalto International Talent Programme, an initiative bringing together Aalto University’s international students and Finnish companies, kicked off remotely on January 20th.
Students taking part in the programme are assigned a mentor company whose recruiters, specialists, and alumni they will meet for a series of informal group mentoring sessions to discuss and learn about various topics related to professional life, careers and the industry.
156 students, ranging through all of Aalto University’s six schools, were selected to participate in the programme this year. The companies and other entities taking part this year are Wärtsilä, Konecranes, PwC, Nokia, F-Secure, Genelec, Murata Electronics, City of Espoo, ABB and Digitalist Group.
School of Science alumnus Matti Aksela, responsible for the Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence at F-Secure, explains why F-Secure is amongst the companies partaking in the programme.
‘Firstly, because I still recall that when studying, I often wondered what someone could do after their studies, and I want to share some of what I have seen in my years in the industry in hopes it might help. I also want to share overall thoughts on what types of areas of expertise I expect to be most valuable in the future. Secondly, I also work with hiring people and being honest, I would like to help the students also describe their strengths better in application processes, helping people like me find the right talent, a clear win-win. I am very much looking forward to the programme and interesting discussions.’
Aksela will be leading three mentoring groups during the International Talent Programme.
The event was officially opened by the President of Aalto University, Ilkka Niemelä, who praised the programme for connecting the top international talent in Finland with Finnish industry and businesses.
'We at Aalto see diversity as a huge asset. International students and cultural diversity are at the very core of our everyday operations”, Niemelä stated. “I’m proud to say that Aalto has become one of the most international universities in continental Europe. We have students from more than 100 countries, 40% of our academic personnel are from outside of Finland, and Times Higher Education recently ranked us as the 37th most international university in the world.'
'We’re especially pleased with the good portion of doctoral students present. Finnish society needs your talent.'
Education as a pathway to the Finnish society: Genelec CEO Siamäk Naghian
The keynote speaker of the event was Siamäk Naghian, CEO of Genelec – who is also the most recent School of Electrical Engineering Alumnus of the Year. Originally from Iran, Naghian has always emphasised the role the Finnish university education played in incorporating him into Finnish society and working life. Naghian shared some personal insights on how to succeed in the Finnish job market as an international jobseeker.
He highlighted the importance of familiarising yourself with the Finnish language from the very beginning – Naghian himself said he was happy that he was pushed to learn the language already during his university studies.
He also advised the students to be proactive in learning about the Finnish culture, society and its values, as well as laws, regulations and the country’s social system in general. Expressing general curiosity and willingness to learn more about the Finnish way of doing things will not only make living in Finland pragmatically easier but make you stand out as an international talent who wishes to pursue a career in Finland.
Making it in Finland is not all about hacking the Finnish system. It is equally about learning about yourself and your very own purpose for doing what you do. Where do your unique competencies and capabilities lie? What about your passion – what is it that you simply love to do? Naghian stressed the significance of discovering a meaningful career path: both as an individual and as part of the company, its goals and company culture, and the company goals and ways of operating. The company you strive to work for should also recognize and cherish your specific competencies while giving you space to grow and learn more as you go.
These are the companies the International Talent Programme aims to connect our top international talent with: the ones that understand the role a diverse workforce plays in making any company successfully future-proof. These companies are the ones that will be the leaders of tomorrow’s markets and industry landscapes – with our international alumni on board.
Thus, know yourself, know the company you are with, and let your learning path begin, Naghian concluded. As his professor once told him after his own graduation: 'now you have a license to learn.'
Students partaking in the programme saw it as a perfect opportunity to further root themselves in the Finnish job flow.
‘Even though I am a first-year student, I need to understand how and what I need to prepare for working in Finland after my graduation”, said Giyong Jang, Master’s student in Collaborative and Industrial Design.’
Chemical engineering doctoral student Elham Khalati saw the programme as an excellent opportunity to start networking during a difficult time due to the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Hearing first-hand experiences from the company employees really helps us know how to plan for our future. We are all in the same situation. We are all new in Finland and share the same concerns – together with the help of mentors, I am sure we can find common solutions.’
The remote group mentoring sessions of Aalto International Talent Programme continue in the spring term.