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Photo: Jaana Mutanen

Attitude is everything in Russia

How to turn a student exchange into a job in Russia was the question in a student event hosted by the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg in mid-March. This event, the fifth of its kind, was organised by the Finnish Russia Club, CIMO and the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg. Around a hundred Finnish students came together to learn more about the experiences of experts on Russia, concrete job opportunities and the expectations that Finnish enterprises in Russia have of prospective employees.

“Despite the current crisis, Russia is and will remain our neighbour. Its growth potential and economic opportunities are immense. We live in dramatic times in terms of global politics, but it’s business as usual in St. Petersburg. It’s vital to foster grassroots relations at times like this”, said Staffan Tast (Qasabo Company), one of the panel members in the event.

After the panel discussion, the representatives of Finnish companies operating in Russia told the audience about their work and the jobs and traineeships on offer.

The gist of the event was to help Finnish students studying in Russia to see the breadth of the Russian labour market. The employers also got to meet potential summer employees, trainees and future experts of Russia.

Traineeships help launch careers

Many of the entrepreneurs and employees present said the same thing: the first step of their careers was a traineeship. The panel members gave both frank and enthusiastic feedback on the Russian working life, which requires both curiosity and resilience. While the panel members each had their individual paths to working across the eastern border, most of them also had shared experiences when it came to doing a student or trainee exchange in Russia.

The Finnish Russia Club, an association of Finnish entrepreneurs operating in Russia, reminded the students of the fact that one must not head for Russia to judge or to find fault. What is needed instead is an open and positive attitude and readiness to try new things. Maarit Keitanen from the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg pointed out that Finland needs experts of Russia not only in business life but also in the public sector.

Networks ever more important

The entrepreneurs, who had several years of Russian experience behind them, told the students to network with the locals and to learn about Russian culture and thepotential markets.

Before concluding the official part of the programme, the moderator of the event Jonne Pöyhtäri (East Consulting Ltd) asked the members of the Finnish Russia Club to introduce themselves. This was followed by informal mingling . The students said that the event was an excellent networking opportunity and a chance to learn about the Russian experiences of entrepreneurs and other actors. As one of the students put it: the event was casual and fun, and the working-life representatives were friendly and easy to approach. There is a call for similar events also in the future.

Jobs and/or traineeships were offered by
  • Jobs and/or traineeships were offered by
  • Sokos Hotels
  • KESKO Russia
  • RusInco Travel
  • Puls Nutrition Ltd
  • Helsinki Centre in St. Petersburg
  • Nurminen Logistics
  • Nord Consult
  • CIMO

(7.4.2015 / OJ)

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