IB Experiences

JAMK International Business students meet the working life in Finland and abroad

Monthly Archives: September 2017

My practice at WorldEXPO-2017

In the past three month, I have gained a working experience at Astana EXPO-2017 in Kazakhstan, where I was a representative of Finland pavilion.
EXPO-2017 is a multinational exhibition which gathered over 100 countries, international organizations and companies under the theme “Future Energy”. Every country-participant represented their know-how in the promotion of sustainable energy and solutions of alternative energy production. Finland participates at the Expo with its own pavilion, carrying the theme “Sharing Pure Energy”. My duty was to introduce the products and services of Finnish companies in the field of Green Economy to the guests/companies and connect those who are interested with the management team and later directly with the companies. The main companies which participated in the project: Honka, Tikkurila, Isku interior, BusinessOulu, Wello, Tespack, Vaisala, Ferroplan, Ensto, Finnish Water forum and Finair.
Undoubtedly, I have gained some basics of working experience as well as social skills during this training period. I am very lucky with the management team and very greateful to my supervisors who made those three month so enjoyable and memorable. (see picture with the management team and 14other guides like me)

One of the best things about EXPO is international atmosphere. We communicated closely with a lot of nationalities and met a lot of different people there. That obviously gave me a great practice of my communication skills. It also created a great environment for improvement of networking abilities.

Due to the scope of the job, which mainly was service, I also obtained a conflict resolution and stress management skills. I am convienced, that this is of a vital importance for any career in the future at any job: to find solutions quickly even in a very tensed and stressful situations remaining alert and calm, to solve any problems occurred between personnel and customers, to be aware of and respectful of differences, to be able to seek compromise and avoid punishing.
I also had a wonderful chance to meet a lot of representatives of Finnish companies during Business events in the pavilion’s VIP Lounge. JAMK University was one of the partners of EXPO-2017 and actively participated in the event. Thus, I had a pleasure to work with Heikki Pusa, Manager of Global Education Services and also meet Jussi Halttunen, Rector of JAMK who visited Astana (see picture below).


Last, but not least, I have learnt a lot of new information regarding sources of alternative energy, energy efficiency and miscellaneous ways of reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. I became more aware of the problems that our world is facing right now and where those problems will lead us, if serious actions are not undertaken.

And I just let the water take me away

This summer I have spent working on a tour boat. We had excursions around the rivers and canals of Saint-Petersburg. The company’s name is Step to SPb. It’s small but proud. I had a lot of experiences and unique chances to learn, and I’m happy I didn’t miss my opportunity.

(I should confess, the most valuable experience was aesthetic. Because I had a chance to travel on water for the whole summer).

There should be another side behind the bridge, but the moist was extremely thick. Sight from Admiralteyskaya embankent.

My duties included interaction with customers (you ever had a successful sales conversation in a mix of German and English? it’s invaluable) and with tourist guides (you ever had a successful sales conversation with a person who has linguistics degree from one of the best universities of your country? it teaches you to be as patient as a marble monument). I also had to manage the relationships with our competitors who we shared a pier with, and with their captain’s assistants. Anything I can tell you about these relationships is not very pleasant and also affects real living people, so nothing specific here. But their attitude and environment taught me to be quick and merciless while also polite like a queen. It also taught me that sometimes people are not Finns, and studying in a calm environment that JAMK is makes you forget that.

St. Isaak’s cathedral, sight from under the Blue Bridge.

I have met different kinds of people from all over the world and had a chance to observe them when they thought I was just a server who doesn’t speak their language (valuable lesson: never talk bad of anyone in front of them unless you are most certain they don’t speak your language. Because in most cases, I did). I also saw happy people, amazed people, disappointed people, inspired people and frustrated people. Among all other things, I studied people and how to be customer-likable.

The most memorable thing was the Navy Day. Navy ships were in our route for about three weeks, I saw the change of duty and the rehearsal before the day. It wasn’t connected with my studies directly, but I know more about navy life, sailmen and what they are like (I also had two on board every day). It was just adorbs for my heart and a study of people, nothing more or less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The close sight of the navy ships, and even the submarine.

 

I liked my time spent there. I have learned a lot about tourism business, tourist guides and small business (but it’s a little bit of a secret, so hushhh). I am certain this knowledge will help me in my future studies and career.

The setting sun. Somewhere close to the Zenit arena, but no exact coordinates.

The post title belongs to The Hurts “Water”

All photos belong to me.

You never know where insights might come from

 

View on the Peter and Paul Fortress from the Palace Embankment, Saint-Petersburg

Setting on

In summer of 2017 I had an opportunity to complete a practical training at the company located in Saint-Petersburg, Russia called “Ychebnaya mebel”. Originally, they were manufacturing school furniture and supplying it through city and district orders on the auction. I was employed at a time they introduced a new product line for the different market – conference armchairs for middle-class, premium sector. “Mebeletta” was the new brand that the company’s CEO wanted to promote to the Finnish market and at the same time to extend brand visibility in the Russian market – and that’s was the task proposition I was hired for.

When I got more acquainted with the task, my learning expectations and goals were primarily attributed to the following focus areas: improving sales skills, expanding knowledge in marketing and finding out about the aspects of Russian – Finnish relations. My practical training period started in May and at that point, I began from creating marketing material in English to come and speak with Finnish retail chains. For the first month, while I was in Jyväskylä, I have been involved in segmenting the Finnish market for the purpose of finding a market niche for the company’s product line which included analyzing the existing structure of furniture retailers in Finland, making several “cold calls” for finding potential clients, compiling e-mail lists and meetings with representatives of retail chains. Out of Finland, I was assisting the marketing department in Russia with the promotion of the conference chairs to the premium clientele. I had a chance of trying myself in a variety of tasks during the second half of my practical training ranging from participating in the design of the logo, creating the structure for the landing page, copywriting, translation, market strategy planning, brand development and social media marketing.

One of Mebeletta’s conference chairs

Backup from university

However, the most exciting part of the practical training was participation in the business-acceleration conference for entrepreneurs of Saint-Petersburg and Leningradskaya oblast which focused on fostering the development of SME in the region. “Mebeletta” was one of the participants. Speakers from different backgrounds came to share innovative methodologies in management, marketing, strategical thinking and leadership. During this conference, I was responsible for completing the given case studies, participating in the activities and establishing a network for company’s future cooperation by meeting with potential clients and managing communication in international meetings in person and by phone.

There is one particular aspect of my conference experience that I want to mention here that directly relates to my studies at JAMK. Speakers at the conference came from different backgrounds, including Russian retail chains, governmental market entities and even Skolkovo business school. Their pitches encompassed such topics as Design Thinking, corporate governance, market entry strategies, motivation factors in HR, types of leadership, value chain management and more. These very same topics were the ones I have already got acquainted with during my 1st year of studies in JAMK and I did not even expect that the issues brought up by the speakers would so much coincide with the issues we have been previously discussing in JAMK’s IB lectures. Thanks to such previous discussions back at university, pitch trainings and deep subject learning with a practical focus, I was able to make a contribution to the conference and participate in the talks on a variety of business-related topics. Entrepreneurs and business owners who I had a chance to talk with were surprised to find out that JAMK has such an approach of training their students in terms of bringing up practical sides of business development onto the table and focusing on acute topics and internationally acclaimed methodologies. I tried to communicate this approach to them and according to the final impression I got, they became quite interested in the Finnish education and apart from my practical-related tasks I have also been consulting them in this area.

Hands on conference experience (click here to watch a video fragment)

Syncing in with the gained knowledge

The practical training gave me a number of different opportunities to implement knowledge gained during studies at JAMK, mainly from the perspective of Marketing Communication and Digital Marketing, Project Management and Data analysis. I also practised integrating self-management practices learned at Management course during my practical training as I was combining remote work with work in the office which implied a certain level of responsibility, task allocation and time-management.

“Mebeletta” became one of my first truthful in a sense of task volume work experience and for sure, it has been a very valuable experience for me which I believe laid the foundation for my future career. Firstly, I gained practical insights in marketing and management as I got acquainted with real-life examples of how businesses operate and communicate with each other and understood particular aspects of business development in Russia. Moreover, freelancing experience provided me with understating of a certain level of credibility and responsibility that employers expect from the workers, in that sense, I feel more ready to take on projects which might require distant participation. When it comes to creative thinking and problem-solving skills, I also had an opportunity to exercise them: I was creating several logos plus brand concepts that: adhere to a premium customer segment in Russia, coincide with wishes and visionary details of the employer and at the same time do not prevent current company’s customer base from recognizing existing brand.

Reflecting now back through the overall practical training, I came up with a conclusion that having a bigger picture in mind during first steps is crucial in order avoid wastage of resources due to improper timing and copying of the tasks from the workload. Again and again, I understand how important it is to proper time the stages of a project, otherwise improper phase-timing will inevitably lead to irrational usage of other resources, human ones as a matter of fact.

Preparing the marketing material

Lessons learned

All in all, “Mebeletta” was not just a company with a practical training I completed, but it was a very valuable source of practical knowledge and business insights I gained from my own experience and from the words of people working there. There are some that I want to share in this blog which I believe are not necessarily attributed to the business area I was working in, but can be related to business life in general:

– Being open-minded and at the same time a good listener: it is essential to identifying the right flow of information in the conversation and to support the discussion with what is relevant and what might be a source of potential interest to your listener.

– Finding a balance between what you think is good and what your employer thinks is, establishing a compromise. This compromise is the foundation in the working relations as by transforming the input shared to you by the employer into the output with a certain proportion of your thinking and contribution develops such relationships further.

– Creativity is a challenging thing to direct in a certain direction, nevertheless, it is a certain skill of managing creativity that enables to bring up ideas and fresh thinking to a certain case.

– Sales are not made by e-mail, neither by phone, they are made during meetings. Whatever the business, it always comes to person-to-person communication. I want to make a particular emphasis on this one because communication is often the unseen driver of any business development and on the other side, most of the problems in business do not come from resource-related aspects, but from blank spaces in communication between employer and employees, business and suppliers, business and customers.

Hello world!

Let’s open the practical training opportunities and experiences to the world! Our students in JAMK University of Applied Sciences, degree programme in International Business will write here what they have learned and what are the outcomes of their practical training periods.

Welcome to read and comment!

Best regards,

Piia

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