An inspiring internship abroad

Startup Life has been helping Finnish students to get internships in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco for the past four years.
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The application process has been made as simple as possible. The first step is to fill the application form on the Startup Life website. After this the Startup Life team will read through it together with the applicant.

– American students have been thaught from an early stage to market and to sell themselves to Silicon Valley. Finnish students are not used to this and may need some help with it, says Siiri Hakulinen, one of the three team members in Startup Life.

Startup Life is a non-profit programme funded by Aalto University. Physically it is situated in Startup Sauna in Otaniemi. During this application period, some 60 open positions can be applied to via Startup Life. Most of the positions are for students in computer science or industrial management, but there are also places available for business and design students.

– We help to finish up the application and help with the portfolio and LinkedIn-profile, Hakulinen continues. If the applicant gets the job we also help with the visa and flight bookings.

Many American startups are hesitant to hire foreign workers because of the many risks involving visas for example. The strength of Startup Life lies here: they offer the companies an applicant with a clear applications and the paper work taken care of. This means that the Finnish students have similar chances as the American students. If the student is from Aalto University the university pays for visa and flight fees up to 3000 euros. The applicant has to be a degree student at a Finnish university.

– The Startup Life alumni have good work opportunities, Hakulinen says.

It’s a strong statement, but if you look at the lists of alumni it is not hard to believe. Amongst the interns in the first 2011 batch of interns are names like Nelli Lähteenmäki and Linda Liukas, both successful women. Lähteenmäki has created YOU-app together with Jamie Oliver and Liukas is a children’s book author who teaches coding with the help of stories.

The Startup Life team consists of Riko Nyberg (left), Siiri Hakulinen and Eemeli Vanhanen.

According to Hakulinen an internship abroad can many times be a better option than for example exchange studies.

– The fact you are doing something concrete inspires many. Some students may have problems with their motivation to study, but after the internship they are inspired to finish their studies because they have been in action in their own field.

For some moving abroad can be a tough spot, but the Startup Life interns have a good team spirit and they meet up during their internships.  

Silicon Valley is one of the most competitive places on earth and only those with genuine interest will succeed, but the experiences the interns get are priceless.

– There is a whole different mindset in USA, the “can do”-mentality is strong. The Finnish students bring a lot of good experiences and ideas back to Finland. The knowledge of the interns jump´s light years ahead. In many of the companies the interns will become equal to the other workers and many get projects of their own.

Students have always organised the Startup Life programme, approximately one year at a time. This year the team consists of communications student Siiri Hakulinen, computer science student Eemeli Vanhanen and industrial management student Riko Nyberg.

– Startup Life has received a lot of positive feedback during these four years. Many startups contact us after hearing about our goof reputation.

– Finnish work force is appreciated abroad. We’re known as hard working, independent and honest.

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