Experiencing SIMHE Path Complementary Studies at Karelia UAS
Alexandra Huhta, Johanna Luostarinen, Sini-Tuuli Saaristo
Alexandra Huhta, originally from the Philippines, took part in the SIMHE Path complementary studies at Karelia UAS in Fall 2020. Her background is in Business Economics. Before she arrived at Joensuu Finland, she worked as a research specialist in a financial data and software company in Manila. She has also worked as a sales information personnel of a company that manufactures and distributes prepared food products.
Alexandra decided to take part in the complementary studies at Karelia UAS after her Finnish language teacher gave information about what to do after the integration course. She wanted to wider networks in her field, experience the Finnish working environment through work placement, and to enhance her knowledge by taking part in the Internal Business courses offered at Karelia UAS. In the integration course, she was given a B1 level in Finnish language certificate, meaning that her Finnish language should be sufficient for finding a job or getting a study place in Finland.
When Alexandra arrived in Finland, she experienced challenges while applying for work. “I applied in a job post expecting that I am a qualified candidate because I have a good employment history. I was not invited for an interview. Looking back at it, I realized that I did not have adequate Finnish language proficiency.” Difficulties in finding employment in Finland came as a surprise to Alexandra. She notes that the unemployment rate in the Philippines is lower than in Finland. In her home country, she got a job that was relevant to her degree just before graduation with the help of her networks. She states that not knowing about the Finnish working environment and lack of networks were her disadvantages.
During her SIMHE path complementary studies, Alexandra took part in the workshops, which promote employment in the area. She liked the fact that the workshops invited speakers who gave good and up-to-date information about the job market and also helped her to improve her networks. In addition, she was also given information on how to market oneself on different online service platforms. “The project gave me more enthusiasm and optimism about finding a job. In fact, my LinkedIn profile and connections improved after taking part in the workshops.” After the workshops, she also made changes to her CV and cover letter to meet better with the expectations of Finnish working life and employers.
Despite the challenging start, Alexandra feels that her working life in the future will be worth the wait. “I know that I am giving my best to improve my skills, and I see myself utilizing them in my future workplace. I hope that I will bring diversity and value to my future employment, and in return, I will have a healthy work-life balance.” Alexandra feels lucky to be in the last batch of the SIMHE Path project. “I hope this kind of support for immigrants will continuously be funded because the team has given me a wider perspective on the future of immigrants in Finland.”
Alexandra Huhta, SIMHE Path student
Johanna Luostarinen, teacher, Karelia UAS
Sini-Tuuli Saaristo, Project Manager, Karelia UAS