| 24.04.2023

Hanken International Talent: supporting international students’ integration to Finland

Sophia Rahimeh, Henna Konsti och Huong Duong står bredvid varandra och ler mot kameran
Through the transformed Hanken International Talent initiative, all international degree students can now receive support for integrating into Finnish society and working life. We spoke to two students who have experienced the benefits.

Hanken School of Economics continues to have a strong reputation outside of Finland, drawing students from around the world into Hanken’s Master’s Degree studies in English. Approximately 100 international students are enrolled for the current academic year. 

It’s important to Hanken that the students from abroad are able to find jobs in Finland, either during or after their studies. In March 2023, research organisation E2 Tutkimus said that one third of international students surveyed see their opportunities for career advancement in Finland as poor. Some 47% consider it likely they would leave the country after completing their studies.

Hanken is helping to reverse this trend through Hanken International Talent (HIT), the business school’s initiative to support international students’ integration into Finnish society and the local job market. The HIT team works in cooperation with parallel initiatives in the government’s national Talent Boost programme, so Hanken students get maximum exposure to the opportunities available. 

Hanken International Talent Manager Henna Konsti explains:

“When Hanken International Talent started several years ago, it was about matching international students with local companies, often through mentoring. But this way Hanken could support only some of the students, so in 2021 the initiative was adapted and made inclusive to all our international degree students. The aim is for everyone to get a good start in Finland,” says Konsti.

“Hanken International Talent now functions as an umbrella for different opportunities that students can choose to participate in to widen their network, explore Finnish working life, and support their integration into Finland. These opportunities, offered either by Hanken or through the wider Talent Boost Network, are included in our monthly newsletter that all international degree students receive,” she says.

A diploma for extra effort

Hanken International Talent now involves a study module that students can choose to complete and get a diploma for. The module combines different activities and courses that support integration into society, including Finnish and Swedish language studies, mentorship, business-culture studies, volunteering and more. 

US-citizen Sophia Rahimeh is one of the first international students to have completed the module. She enrolled at Hanken in 2020 on a scholarship to study for an MSc in International Strategy and Sustainability, graduating in fall 2022. 

“Hanken International Talent has provided me with exposure to various opportunities. I was able to meet many different people, attend interesting events, and build my professional network,” says Rahimeh. “I also had a mentor who helped me with career advice. It’s always helpful to get a perspective from someone who may have been in your shoes 20 or so years earlier.”

One of her networking opportunities came through an event related to the last US presidential election. Here she met the CEO of Amcham Finland and was later offered an internship with the organisation. Rahimeh’s next career step was to join KPMG Finland as a Global Mobility Advisor. 

“With Hanken’s talent programme, what you put in is what you get out,” she says. “By taking courses that were part of the module, writing blog posts and acting as a student ambassador, I was also able to get the Hanken International Talent diploma. This is a tangible representation of the work I’ve put in and it’s something I can present to Finnish employers.”

Learning what works on Linkedin

Huong Duong from Vietnam also credits HIT with helping her find an internship in quality control at Nissan Nordic Europe. She’s a first-year Master’s degree student who came to Hanken after graduating from a BSc programme in Lappeenranta.

One of the HIT-promoted activities Duong found most useful was the Job Sprint programme organised by Career Centre Arabia. In weekly meetups students learn techniques for their CVs and Linkedin profiles, while also receiving motivational support for getting in the job-hunting mindset. Each session is conducted by a different recruitment expert.

“The Job Sprint programme gave me a lot of practical advice on how to properly search for employment. It also helped me understand the kind of opportunities that are available for international students here in Finland. I’m in the phase of starting my career, so this information was really helpful,” says Duong.

“When you're sitting on the job-seeker’s side of the table you don't know what the employer is thinking. The weekly sessions helped me to better understand their perspective. I would say that the internship I have now at Nissan can be attributed to what I learned,” she says.

As part of her Hanken International Talent contribution, Duong also spent time handling incoming inquiries from prospective foreign students. She has written several blog posts too on her experience of different aspects of living in Helsinki. 

“It’s good when Hanken students have the opportunity to promote the university to people who are considering studying in Finland,” says Duong. “We can talk about our experiences, what to expect, and how good the career services are here. I’m happy to tell others about the excellent support I’ve received from Hanken.”

Text: Andrew Flowers
Photo: Jessica Gustafsson