Indian-born Sudipta Chatterjee’s journey to Finland began in the classic way – she fell in love with a Finn. In the fourteen years she has lived here, Sudipta has not only learned the language but started a family, earned two degrees, and launched into a booming career in sales and marketing. She has some great tips for those thinking about making Finland their new home and studying at the UEF!
When Sudipta first moved to Finland, she was a Montessori-trained teacher with her eyes on education as a career. However, she soon realised that she wanted something else. After doing some research into her options, she decided on business administration. Her choice was partly affected by the fact that the programme was available in English, and partly by her own background.
– In India, we’re accustomed to negotiating from very early on. There are a lot of people and competition, which forces us to learn to sell our skills and talents to get something we want, be it a study place at a good university, a job at a desired firm or a life partner. We’re constantly trying to do some sort of business. Even buying a simple dress requires negotiating and haggling.
In other words, she felt that selling and negotiation skills were something she was already familiar with. And so she went on to complete an international programme at Savonia University of Applied Sciences, earning herself a bachelor’s degree.
Put in the work and get noticed
Sudipta was an active member of the student body, participating in projects and generally making sure she was getting noticed.
– You can get yourself noticed by helping others and showing people what you are capable of.
And by being active is how she landed her first job in her field of study. First, she worked on a six-month project at Savonia, and later on, she was offered another job at Savonia as a student advisor.
Then it was time for a master’s degree. She applied to three universities and was accepted into all of them. She chose the University of Eastern Finland and, upon starting her studies, was met by a friendly face – Dr. Jonna Koponen, who had been a student of hers at a Bollywood dance course she had been teaching earlier. Later on, Dr. Koponen also became her thesis instructor.
Sudipta says that getting a Finnish education has had a major impact on her career, opening doors to various possibilities. Doing actual projects with real companies as part of her studies boosted her confidence. She says she is now not afraid of making mistakes and feels that she can learn whatever is necessary.
The UEF made me realise my potential and instilled in me the idea that I can do more.
Be persistent and keep promoting yourself
Sudipta has stayed in touch with Dr. Koponen and visits her lectures at least once year to talk to the students about business life. After graduating from the UEF, she continued working in the pharmaceutical industry, something she had already started while doing her master’s studies. Medicine was never really her field, but she embraced the challenge.
– There’s nothing we can’t learn.
After working for over three years at the same company, she felt the need to develop herself further, both personally and professionally. And so, she started looking for a new job where she could accomplish more. She made a list of companies matching her skills and qualifications, and started contacting them by telling them what she could offer them and how she could help them grow further.
Galena Pharma, a leading pharmaceutical company in the Nordic countries specialising in product development, private-label products, contract manufacturing, and packaging for pharmaceuticals and health products, was one the companies she approached – and she was invited to an interview.
While waiting for Galena’s response after the initial interview, she made a presentation showcasing exactly what she could help them with, what kind of goals she had in mind, and how she was planning to achieve them. She sent the presentation to the company with a note saying that maybe it could help them make a decision. And it did. She was hired as a Sales and Marketing Manager.
Sudipta knows that getting a desired job is never easy anywhere in the world, but her experiences underline the importance of a persistent and open-minded attitude. When she applied to Galena, there was no marketing person at the company.
– That was one of the reasons I chose them. I knew there would be a position. They didn’t know it, but I did. I was able to sell myself to them.
(Working) Life in Finland
– For someone coming from India, working life in Finland is heaven. It’s much more relaxed and less hierarchical. Everyone is more or less equal. And the work-life balance is very good. People are not expected to work around the clock. If you do work extra hours, you’ll either get time off or you’ll be paid extra.
In her free time, Sudipta enjoys spending time with her child playing board games and hiking in the forest with family or friends. She also enjoys trying out different cuisines and winter swimming – she says she is a dedicated “avanto person”.
She also assists in arranging functions where she promotes Indian culture. Intercultural exchange is something she would like to do more of in the future, to bring more of India to Finland and also to take more of Finland to India. One of her goals is to have a business of her own. She doesn’t have a clear vision yet, but it is something that she will surely figure out and achieve.
A word to the wise
It is a well-known fact that it can be hard to get a job in Finland without sufficient Finnish language skills. Sudipta had already started to learn the language when she first came to Finland in 2008. She says that the fact that she could speak Finnish was one of the factors that helped her land a job in the first place.
– I highly recommend anyone coming to Finland to go on a language course. It helped me a lot, I learned to speak Finnish. Language skills make it easier for a potential employer to hire you.
After getting accepted to a study programme, future students usually have some time before the semester begins. Sudipta’s pro-tip is to use your time wisely. In other words, she suggests you start studying the basics of the language already then and utilise your time learning new skills. It will benefit you in the long run.
It is also a good idea to find out in advance what kind of jobs are available here and choose your line of study accordingly, says Sudipta.
– Start shaping up your career with those realities in mind. Sales and marketing are definitely fields that will have openings in the future, too. Every company needs a sales person.