Who are you? What did you study at Aalto University School of Business and when did you graduate?
My name is Essi Raitala and I work as the First Secretary at Embassy of Finland in Nairobi. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Business Law and a Master’s degree in International Business Communication in the School of Business. I graduated in 2016. In addition, I completed a Master’s degree in Law in the University of Helsinki.
Why did you want to study Communications?
It was a good counterbalance to my law studies and I knew that it would benefit me later on in my career. I was also interested in the diversity of the Master’s program in International Business Communication: the courses varied from marketing communications to investor relations communications.
Tell us about your career path so far.
Before working in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, I worked as an Associate at a law firm and as a Legal Counsel at KONE Corporation. My only experience from working for the government was an internship during my studies in the Embassy of Finland in Singapore.
What made you interested in a career in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs?
I was intrigued by the career opportunities and diversity: the tasks can vary depending on your posting and can include for example business, security and development policies. You change tasks after a few years and the employees are encouraged to apply for tasks which are outside one’s comfort zone – you get to try something new all the time. The central values of my work, such as development of democracy and promoting the status of women and girls are motivating and meaningful to me.
What is it like to work in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs? What about working abroad?
I’m now on my first posting (for 2–4 years) in Nairobi. In my work, I deal with bilateral relationship between Finland, Somalia and Eritrea and I am the Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN-Habitat, whose headquarters are located in Nairobi.
Working in the embassy abroad is very social and happens mainly outside my office. My work includes acquiring information and reporting from different meetings, and thus requires good networks. I travel to Somalia and Eritrea quite often, which is rewarding, but can be physically heavy sometimes. The work requires perseverance, since especially in the development policy, seeing the results takes time.
What have been the most important and most useful things in your studies?
In the School of Business, you receive good communications skills regardless of your major subject. The study environment is international and social – the students are encouraged to do internships abroad and they are offered support in applying. When I applied for the access course of diplomatic career at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, I definitely separated myself from the other applicants with my business studies and the private sector work experience.
Would you like to do something differently in your studies?
I would use even more the services and opportunities the School of Business offers to study and do internships abroad. I completed one exchange period and one internship abroad during my studies, but I would have had the time to do even more.
What should the students focus on if they are interested in working for the government or Ministry for Foreign Affairs? Your advice for someone wanting to work abroad?
In the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, they value diverse international experience and good language skills. The business studies create an excellent basis for the diplomatic career – especially since in many embassies, the main emphasis can be in promoting exports.
Working abroad requires patience and also some sense of humor, for often the things do not work out with the same efficiency or logic that we are used to in the Nordic countries.
Get to know Essi’s career path more closely on LinkedIn!
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Employer: See further information about offering an internship to our students.