The Call That Changed My Summer

Hi everyone!

My name is Saya and just  like the other Saya on JAMK blog, I also had my practical training at the same place 😉 I know, the title of the blog post sounds very cheesy, but let me explain and tell you my story of working for Finland at Astana Expo 2017.

In January Finpro Ltd was looking for guides to represent Finland at World Expo 2017 in Astana(Kazakhstan). I, however, learned about this opportunity quite late and missed the deadline for application. Nevertheless, I informed them of my interest through my dear friend Heikki Pusa, our Project Manager from JAMK, and in June he gave me a call that changed my summer. He said Finpro was looking for one more person to join their team. So, I talked to the Event Manager, Mira Virkkunen, about the position and we had a job interview through the phone on 06.06, I bought my ticket and flew to Astana on 07.06, landed on 08.06 and the exhibition started on 10th of June. I pretty much joined the team at the last moment.

This was a great chance for me to get practical training experience, meet amazing people and spend time with my family since the exhibition was held in my home city.

Expo 2017 was organized under the theme ‘Future Energy’ and as much as 101 countries and 18 international organizations shared their ideas on the matter. Finland was the only country from the Nordics to present their ideas and the theme for the pavilion was “Sharing Pure Energy”.

My practical training lasted for three months (11.06-10.09.2017) and I worked as a Guide for the Finnish Pavilion for Finpro Ltd.

Our guides and managers were all people living in Finland, therefore we could provide information not only about the latest Finnish technologies but also about life, studies, work, and leisure in Finland. Since our guests were from very diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, I gave them personalized information about Finland and its exhibition themes in Kazakh, Russian, English, Japanese and occasionally in Finnish. We, guides, helped Finnish companies to find potential business partners in Kazakhstan in the pavilion and some of them have already signed contracts. Apart from that, we received and gave tours to official representatives from governments, organizations, important partner companies and other VIP guests in the pavilion.

Beibut Shahanov from Ministry of Investments and Development of Republic of Kazakhstan visiting our pavilion

Moreover, I gave over ten interviews to local media channels and universities about the pavilion exhibits. 😮 This is one of them

I was chosen to be a team leader for a period of 1 months and I was responsible for my guide team’s information distribution, keeping information updated with other two teams, organizing and supervising daily operations together with the management team and resourcing guides to all required tasks.

From mid-July onward, I took on SMM and was managing the pavilion’s Instagram account (@finlandatastanaexpo2017) in cooperation with the pavilion’s Social Media Coordinator. I produced content for and updated the account on regular basis, as well as helped to create an engaging experience for the pavilion’s visitors in Russian, Kazakh, and English. Additionally, I was responsible for text translations for our Facebook posts.

Our management team was very considerate to us, especially our supervisor, Mira Virkkunen, was always there to support us and took care of us just how a mother would. Personally, I felt like our management team was our friends: we could talk about anything, our struggles, happy moments and much more. Outside of our work hours, we would very often go to the cinema together, organize home parties, go to the spam visit museums and theaters. As a result, we became very close to each other and this intimacy, this friendship made the atmosphere at work full of joy and happiness Sometimes, guides who were having a day off still came to the pavilion to chat with the colleagues. Besides every now and then we went to restaurants or organized parties together with the management team to bond. If the pavilion was ought to be open during those hours, some of our managers would substitute us, so we could enjoy a good dinner at a fancy place, sing karaoke and etc. As a result, during those three months we did not have any major fights or arguments, and instead, we grew into a family of 22 people!

Oh, and did I tell you that Finland won the gold medal for theme development among pavilions less than 400m2?

The Commissioner General Severi Keinälä together with the Pavilion Director Annikka Alanko holding the medal

All in all, this practical training was a wonderful experience. I improved my customer service, teamwork, leadership, and language skills, expanded my network and got experience in SMM.

I want to say thank you to Heikki Pusa, our management team and my colleagues for making this all happen and leaving amazing memories from this warm and bright summer of 2017! It’s been a blast!

Thank you for reading and good luck!

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