Working in Europe : a rewarding experience in Finland

Ville Laitila on May 14, 2019
If Finns are some of the happiest people in Europe, that might be due to their working culture and lifestyle. It’s been more than one month since I arrived in Finland: I left my university from Grenoble in France for an internship during my master’s degree. Here I joined the company Softagram which has such a multicultural spirit. People from across the world: Thailand, Vietnam, the United States, Poland and of course from Finland have gathered together in this startup. It’s never a bad time to discuss experiences lived here and to share a bit of culture from our home countries.

A time for everything

During this current, short, experience, I could observe that my workdays here are very different from home. Finns start their day early and finish it early. That gives you a lot of time after: in the company, it’s important to have time for work and personal life. Everyone leaves the office near 04:00 PM – overtime doesn’t happen often, or never – especially to pick up the children from school, enjoy the outside and the light. Moreover, don’t forget that we’re in Finland, nature is nearly everywhere, and people want to enjoy the return of nice weather in this part of the year. For that, Oulu is literally a bike-friendly city: the city is pretty flat and has a lot of bike paths. To sum up, the balance between personal life and a career doesn’t seem like a problem, everything has time during the day. To me, it seems like a part of the Finnish culture to be efficient at work and to relax after.  

A walk in the fresh snow in the middle of May:  there is a small forest right next to my apartment

A great atmosphere for work

At Softagram the work conditions are a model, in part because the company has trust in their employees. In fact, the flexibility is very present at work. It’s possible to work remotely very easily and in this situation – once in a while or full-time – everything is done to stay in contact with everyone in the team. In a few weeks, we will move into new and bigger offices to extend the team. The CEO really wants to create a good work environment for everyone – a mix between a cozy working place and a very practical one. It’s also an occasion to create more cohesion between all developers and more friendliness at work. It’s an opportunity to sometimes change the habit and discover new things, like why not a floating sauna for a team building event? Despite all stereotypes, Finns aren’t cold or distant but very welcoming and want to share their culture. I had the chance to learn more about Vappu at the beginning of May, but also about some different local dishes. This is a unique experience for me and an opportunity to discover a lot, professionally and personally. Finland offers you pure nature, strange but tasty food and much more, I had the pleasure to discover it during my first month at Softagram.  

We try “Vappu Sima” (a fermented drink with lemon we drink for Vappu, which is the 1st of May, it’s the day of the workers) and donuts with a part of the team members!

  Now the summer is coming, I look forward to seeing a new face of Finland!

A French student doing her internship in Finland

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