Entrepreneur/ Communications Advisor
Graduated in 2015
How did you come to apply to ICE?
"Before entering the ICE programme, I had completed a Bachelor's and a Master's degree related to communications. I applied to ICE to further my studies and to learn more about culture and communication. As a foreigner in Finland, I was positioned to see many intercultural interactions and I was questioning my own values and identity. This programme was attractive because it included an examination of cultural phenomena, but also of personhood. In this way, it combined my educational and philosophical aspirations."
What was it like to write your Master's thesis?
"My thesis was on the topic of environmental communication. Using ethnography of communication, I looked at environmental professionals as a cultural group and analysed how they talked about their subject. This methodology was new for me, so I learned so much in the process. Looking back, I was a lot like a baby learning to walk- uneasy, afraid and stumbling around. Your supervisor helps you up at the beginning but at some point they have to let you try it out yourself. That is always the way when you start something new and of course, you learn. It is a process and that is the point."
How did your studies lead to an entrepreneurial career?
"Entrepreneurship is nothing new to me. I was in an entrepreneur club in highschool and many of my family members have been entrepreneurs. However, for a long time I was more interested in academic life and business was more in the background of my mind. Then, when looking for work, I realized that many companies do not have the resources to hire their own communications person. This was especially the case in small and medium sized businesses- they were doing communication unprofessionally and it was affecting them. So, I thought, Maybe I can offer services like that. Work started appearing, here and there, until my business grew into what it is today."
What advice would you give to a student that is interested in entrepreneurship?
"First of all, I think that Finland is a very entrepreneur-friendly place. People are problem solvers and the country has good legislation for businesses to start and continue. So, it is fertile ground to explore entrepreneurship as a career option. For those interested, I would recommend joining an entrepreneurship society at the university and attending workshops through organisations like NewCo Accelerator. This will help you learn what entrepreneurship actually entails. Some people just hear the hype or cool things about being an entrepreneur, but it is important to be aware of how demanding it is and how much Sisu, or perseverance, it takes. Starting and running your own business can be very rewarding but it is not for everyone. You really need to love it. Before committing to anything, do a lot of research and find out what supports are available to you."
In a business-oriented environment, how do you explain your studies in ICE?
"I don't have a clear-cut elevator pitch, but I typically explain intercultural encounters as a way of understanding communication by considering cultural factors. Most importantly, I always adapt to the listener. Especially in the business world, people may not be so aware of studies in intercultural encounters. Some people may see this subject and assume you just like to eat spicy foods or speak many languages. I try to always link my skills and my experiences to my audience's worldview and explain them in terms that they understand."
How does your Master's education show up in your work?
"Most recently, I think that the communication aspect of our lives has come into the spotlight. For those of us who work in the communication field, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges and highlighted questions that we had never considered. I think that it has shown how important speech is to humans. With digital communication becoming even more present, it is important to study how intercultural encounters are affected. Especially when we are not encountering many people physically, how do we define these encounters now? I think the ICE programme plays a vital role in examining the crucial issues of our ever-changing world. It continues to be relevant and important."