Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:24
Dare to spread your wings
Text and photos: Susanna Siironen
Practical training abroad? It does sound scary but people have been there and done that so it must be a potential opportunity.
- Practical training is not a real job, you have a life to come back to, so you have something to catch you if you fall”, says 24-year-old Mari Maliniemi when asked about the pros of practical training abroad.
Mari is studying in the Degree Programme in Business Information Technology and she interned in the United Kingdom at Denne Country Stores in summer 2007.
Packing hay bales and keeping book
Denne Country Stores is a country store selling everything from farm and equestrian supplies to line dancing clothes. It is located in a small town of Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. Mari's job description was a salesperson but she also got to practice her IT skills by doing some book keeping and advertisements.
- The customer service was a huge part of the job. We welcomed the customer when he came in and helped him with whatever he might want. There was never two days alike. One day you might be working on a computer and the other day packing hay bales into a truck.”
Customers usually understood Mari's foreign background and the fact that she couldn't necessarily know every thick northern accent by heart.
- Of course I was 'the bloody foreigner'. But usually when people heard that I was from Finland they started getting curious and wanted to know for example if there was any snow in Finland at the moment. And it was indeed July...”
Mari thinks that the internship not only improved her professional skills but also her language skills. After all it is a very different thing to speak English in the UK than in Finland. But what about the cultural differences, were there really any?
- Brits are much more polite than Finns and to me the whole politeness-thing sometimes seemed a bit over the top. And then there's that pub culture which differs a lot from the Finnish equivalent. You could go for a pint to the local pub straight from work to meet your friends and relax - with a clean conscience! ”
Going international, but how?
Usually the practical training takes place on the third year of the studies. It is possible to do your practical training abroad in all of the programmes. Students own school can help with finding the training place or the student can find it by himself. There are also special exchange programmes meant for students who want to intern abroad.
Mari got her job initially through her aunt after graduating from high school. She wanted to take a year off and headed abroad. Mari has worked at Denne Country stores on and off ever since so it was natural for her to intern there as well.
At the moment Mari hopes to graduate the next spring. Basically she already has a job reserved for her in Leighton Buzzard but Mari has also considered Germany and other Central European countries.
- And of course the United States don't sound that bad either” Mari smiles.
We'll see where the world will take her.