The biggest career event for international students in Turku is called Study and Stay in Turku, and this year's event, held on 7 December, was particularly special and memorable for us because Megha was one of the event co-hosts.
Imagine yourself living in a city that is so dedicated to the retention and well-being of international talents that it hosts an event specifically for that purpose. That city is called Turku, located in the heart of the Finnish archipelago, and has been the place we call home for the past four years. Naturally, we love our city and want to share this love with others who are either thinking about moving here or those who have already moved here. And what better place to do that than at the biggest career event for internationals of the year?
What is Study and Stay in Turku?
An event called Study and Stay in Turku is organised for international students enrolled in the city's higher education institutions and offers inspiring stories of local internationals, practical tips from career experts, and guidance from fellow university alumni. The idea of the event is simple – to give students a chance to learn about studying, working, and living in Turku (and Finland on a more general level) through real life examples of individuals who’ve gone down the same path. The event is organised jointly by Study in Turku, the city's higher education institutions, and the Turku Business Region.
Despite needing to quickly adapt to the changing times we live in, the Study and Stay in Turku event has been successfully growing in participation each year. This year, the event saw 140 participants joining remotely and 60 participants joining onsite.
The event was first launched in 2019 as an onsite event, but shortly after that the world was hit by the pandemic, forcing the event to change to an online event with attendees taking part virtually. And in 2022, the event evolved into a hybrid one with people attending both onsite and online. The main target audience for the event is international degree students, but exchange students, PhD researchers, and prospective students also take active part in this event.
Here is how Suvi-Anni Huhtinen, Event Manager of Study and Stay in Turku, sees the event playing an important role in supporting international students:
Finland and Turku need more international talents, and international students need more support in their career development. The most common career tip being “networking”, it is our responsibility to also offer platforms for that for international students. I was delighted to see that a record number of international students in Turku – and prospective applicants – found the event this year, and could not be happier knowing that the event has gotten funding for upcoming years. In the future, we hope to see more companies representatives joining our event and networking with our talents!
Event program overview
The agenda for Study and Stay in Turku 2022 was a compact one. The event kicked off with a few words from the event hosts Megha Goswami and Dado Tokic, followed by an inspiring keynote speech from Erica Terranova titled “How I lost and then found my way in Finland”. In case you missed it, here are three key takeaways from the talk:
Knowing your core strengths can help you determine what career path might be best for you (taking your sweet time is okay).
Employers highly value your ability to market yourself and express what you can bring to the table.
Be open to learning, continuous development, and sharing your knowledge with your community. Be ready to network with the mindset that you're not just taking, but also giving back.
The next part of the event was an expert chat with Johanna Varjonen from Teleste and Jonathon Murphy from International House Turku. Here are 3 takeaways from the practical advice session:
It’s important to highlight the lessons you've learned from different roles, and having a variety of experiences and environments can be seen as a positive aspect for your next role.
Being active in volunteering and networking can also be seen as positive on your resume and help in gaining first working experience.
The do’s and don’ts for recruiting vary between countries, and it is recommended to acknowledge this difference also for your CV and cover letter when applying for jobs in Finland.
The last part of the event was a panel discussion with alumni from Turku higher education institutions, moderated by Megha. This year, Tzu-Chen Rautio, Robin Horemans and Yimeng Chen joined us for a lively discussion on a variety of topics, including how they ended up in Finland, life after graduation, their plans for the future, and much more. Three takeaways from the discussion:
Making mistakes when you're a young student is totally okay, but as you get older, learning from them can present opportunities.
Students often start with jobs that are unrelated to their field, but if they are persistent in their search, they may be able to land opportunities like internships or summer jobs in their field of study.
Making the most of your interactions with others while you are still a student is highly encouraged because the network you build can serve as a pillar of support when you transition into the workforce after graduation.
The participants of the event heard real life stories, learned about the difficulties of building a career in Turku and Finland, and even exchanged tips and tricks on how to better integrate into Finnish society.
As mentioned before, Megha and Dado, who both have lived, worked, and studied in Turku, hosted the event this year. During the event, they moderated the discussion by taking into account their own experiences and stepping into the audience’s shoes. Kristaps was a member of the planning committee for the event, attended the event in person, and actively photographed the event so we could share a few special moments from it.
Behind the scenes
Anyone actively involved in event planning will tell you what a rush of adrenaline it is! One seldom realises how much planning and effort goes into a show, and we have the event organisers to thank for dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s. In the post-pandemic world, the event industry has shifted to hybrid events. A production team (Mama Creative) was in charge of the show's audio-visual elements, which were meant for a live audience, a live stream for the online participants, as well as a recording of the event to be enjoyed later (the recording can be found at the top of the blog).
This means carefully planning a show that is of interest to both the live audience and those online.This can be particularly tricky to accommodate, but as an example, the event had a chat running for participants joining online and a microphone passed around for the audience questions onsite. And while a hybrid event can be a great choice if you can't physically attend, it also means it’s difficult to predict turnout and plan for food and drinks – especially if attendees decide to join the event online rather than in person.
As we slowly move forward from COVID-19 times, we’re able to once more enjoy the delights of in-person events. After the Study and Stay in Turku event, the organisers, speakers, and event hosts joined together with participants for a glass of sparkly and small bites. There was a chance to network and speak with both old friends and new individuals. And while the conversation went in many different directions, it had one thing in common – the desire to build a successful life in Finland.