International talents bring, for example, language skills, international contacts and knowledge of the local conditions and culture. This expertise can be utilized, for instance, in product development, opening new markets and establishing customer relationships. (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.) When a company recruits an international talent such as an international student, the talent gets working life experience in Finland and along with that an opportunity to attach themselves to Finnish working life and society.
In addition to recruiting for longer-term employment, the company can offer international student an internship or summer job, a thesis assignment or an opportunity for a company visit. These are good chances to get acquainted with potential future employees, both for an employer interested in taking the first step in international recruitment and for a company for which internationality and internationalization in the workplace are already commonplace. In early October, such an opportunity was seized by Savosolar, a company based in Mikkeli that designs and supplies large solar thermal plants for district heating and industrial use in several countries.
Savosolar and Environmental Engineering students around the same table
The Talent Boost team of South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences’ international services organizes activities for student-company encounters. Such an activity was Matin Mikki, an informal networking evening held on 3 October in Savosolar’s premises, which was participated by Savosolar representatives and Xamk’s second year Environmental Engineering students. Daria Chekalskaia, an Environmental Engineering graduate herself, greatly contributed to planning and arranging this networking evening.
The event provided an opportunity for company representatives and students to meet each other at a low threshold. The immediate benefits of such encounters are the knowledge that students receive about the working life opportunities in the region as well as the new perspectives and ideas that the company might receive based on joint discussions. Students also get an opportunity to get to know each other. For the future, these kinds of encounters can be of great importance for students and companies alike as these companies are potential future employers for the students.
First, representatives of Savosolar introduced the company and its operations. Then they sat down with students at round tables to talk about topics that were related, for example, to the field, working life in general and free-time hobbies. After a while students exchanged tables, forming new small groups where new topics were discussed. Questions and opinions were welcome and there were no right or wrong answers. Conversation was flowing, perhaps partially due to the students being from the same study group and therefore already familiar with each other. Lastly, from Savosolar’s initiative, students got a chance to go for a guided tour in the company’s premises.
Very interesting to see that a company based in Mikkeli has projects in France and other countries around the world.
After the event participants were sent a link to an online survey. Based on the feedback received the continuation of the event will be considered and the event further developed. According to the survey responses, discussions with Savosolar employees provided information about job opportunities in the field and were perceived interesting and informative. Matin Mikki was described as a “nice way to approach in a friendly way the company and to get to know its workers”. It was also mentioned that it was “very interesting to see that a company based in Mikkeli has projects in France and other countries around the world”. All respondents were either absolutely interested or, depending on the event, potentially interested in participating in similar activities in the future.
As a part of the survey students named companies operating in the Mikkeli region that were interesting to them. Many companies were mentioned, but in a few replies student stated that they did not know what kind of businesses related to their field were operating in the area. This highlights the importance of encounters between companies and students. They allow students to get not only contacts for the future, but also a better general understanding of the operations in the region so that they can perceive working and living in the area possible and interesting for them.