Blending and joining the Finnish work life

Features, Guest Author

Vol. 26, Issue 11, 08 December 2023

Hello to all! My name is Peter – I am a programme director and adjunct professor with Hanken&SSE Executive Education in Helsinki. I am also a board member, investor, entrepreneur and a dear former colleague of XAMK lecturers you know, fantastic people like Sara Czabai, Hugh Clack, Slaveya Hämäläinen and Ari Lindeman. I am also a Finn – not born in Finland but proud and grateful to my new motherland for all it gave me.

As you may know Finland is not the easiest country to blend and integrate. A close knit small society of proud with their language and history people, foreigners sometimes feel discouraged that entering Finnish work life is almost mission impossible. It is not! Here are my top advices that may help you.


But what is blending? In my understanding blending is your ability to feel the local culture and try to become part of it – behavior, communications, values, even looks. Finns value enormously humbleness. Are you humble? Finns value enormously punctuality and reliability? Coming in time is an almost absolute norm. Doing what you promised is taken for granted. Are you like that? Finns are typically discomforted by people who talk a lot, talk loud and/or show excessive amount of emotional expressiveness. Do you? Finns never exaggerate or use bombastic language. Do you? You will seldom see Finns dressed in exotic or vivid colors etc. etc. Blending is not a new concept, remember the “In Rome do as the Romans do!”. Just follow it!


When we come in Finland we have an understandable tendency to mingle with other foreigners. There is sense of camaraderie among immigrants, common language (English), common challenges (integration) and perhaps a dash of more desire to socialize with one another. This is however somewhat counterproductive as we start living in a bubble in which everyone speaks English, everyone complains how different and difficult is Finland and we often don’t complement each other but just look alike in terms of mentality and challenges. No, instead of capsulating yourself in this bubble, try to leave it. Try to get local friends, do go and give a hand to local charities, participate actively in local initiatives, make a rule and send every day 3 emails (66 per month!) to Finnish companies and organizations inquiring about internships, summer jobs and other possibilities. They won’t come instantly but god loves the industrious! The bigger your local network, the better your chances.

The long-term perspective.

For immigrants blending in Finland is rather a marathon and not a sprint. But many of us are in a sprint mode. We took loans, have to help our families back home etc. in a tight labour market we are rather keen to hurry up and go for the low hanging fruit – the low paid jobs that offer instant small cash but next to zero future growth and opportunity. This is a trap! As trivial as it may sound, my advice is “suffer but study”! Your patience and long-term approach now will pay back a bit later. And they will pay big time as after all Finland is a knowledge-based economy.


Finally, I want to point out to the importance of attitude. It is of utter importance to stay positive and friendly no matter how much rejection, misunderstandings, or hardships you faced on your way. Bitterness never helped anyone. Would you hire yourself a bitter person? Someone acid and sarcastic, tired from hardships and low on positive emotions and simple smile? Most likely not! But come with the right attitude – open, friendly smiling, humble and smart, willing to listen, to learn and add value, and things will just click!

I hope these small tips will help you in your journey to becoming successful professional in Finland! May the force be with you!

Peter Zashev
Adjunct Professor. EMBA Course: Leading Change Department of Business and Management

Photo: Hugh Clack