EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Helsinki

How to? Read other's experiences. Find useful advice on shipping, immigration, residence permits, visas and more.
Post Reply
sandrinecharlotte
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:55 pm

EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Helsinki

Post by sandrinecharlotte » Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:31 pm

Hello!

I'm a 21 year old US-French citizen who resides and goes to university in the US. I will be finishing my studies in political science at one of the best universities in the country (though I'm assuming that this will not make a difference). This December, I plan on sending an application to the European and Nordic Studies Masters Programme at the University of Helsinki.
I understand that I will not qualify for any benefits under KELA given that I will not have permanent residency, but I shouldn't have much of an issue getting about with my life. I'm used to a high cost of living (I spend my time between San Francisco and Los Angeles and am currently in Paris) and know how to budget. My parents are willing to help pay my rent. I have some friends in Helsinki who will introduce me to their friends and who I'm sure would be willing to help me out if I need it. I speak very little Finnish (I can count, know the colours and days of the week, and can very briefly introduce myself, but that's about it), though I know if I put myself to it I can get to the edge of the A2 level before I go to Helsinki. I however speak fluent French and English (might be hard to tell since my sentences are so choppy :lol: ).
Anyway, I guess what I want to know is how hard would it be to find a job, both during and after my studies? Given that I speak French, would it be feasible to find something in the French community (I'm also going to post on salutfinlande)? Would it be better to do my Masters in France where I know I'll qualify for benefits and then do an exchange at the University of Helsinki? Which sectors are looking to hire foreigners (do I even count as a foreigner since I'm an EU citizen?)? Many have stated that most jobs open to foreigners/students are either in restaurants or cleaning, and even then a certain amount of Finnish is required, and that if a Finnish company hires a foreigner, they have to show that no Finns can fulfil the position. Which sectors would these include? On an unrelated note, how difficult would it be to open up a business (the idea I have in mind isn't common in Helsinki and my friend said it would be a hit)?
Apologies if this is in the wrong forum and kiitos!

Sandrine

EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Helsinki

Sponsor:

Finland Forum Ad-O-Matic
 

TeppoKroatialainen
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 1:59 am

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by TeppoKroatialainen » Sat Nov 19, 2016 12:44 am

YOu seem like you already know a lot.

And jes you count as a foreigner, but im not sure does it for EVERY job they need to prove that they can't find a finn. I've had two jobs for now without that.

What kind of business would you like to open?


PJG
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:13 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by PJG » Sat Nov 19, 2016 1:43 am

TeppoKroatialainen wrote:YOu seem like you already know a lot.

And jes you count as a foreigner, but im not sure does it for EVERY job they need to prove that they can't find a finn. I've had two jobs for now without that.

What kind of business would you like to open?
As an EU citizen, no employer here needs to show that they couldn't find a Finn for the job. If they want to hire you instead of someone else, they can. Simple as that.


sandrinecharlotte
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:55 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and work in Helsinki

Post by sandrinecharlotte » Sat Nov 19, 2016 2:45 am

Okay, that's reassuring that they won't need to show that they couldn't find a Finn! I still have the disadvantage of not knowing Finnish and given the difficulties of learning it I'm not particularly optimistic about my skills in the long run.

Business would probably be restaurant or bakery, something in the food industry.


TeppoKroatialainen
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 1:59 am

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by TeppoKroatialainen » Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:34 am

If you want top open a business, keep in mind that Finland is The Kingdom of Regulation!

So watch out for food safety regulations! Keep in mind that Finns have a high celiac rate and a lot of them avoid gluten, also their bread of choice is usualy that dark rye bread.

So in a Finnish manner I just told you that everything is bad :)

But if you would open a french style bakery with affordable prices I would go for it!


leisl
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:26 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by leisl » Sat Nov 19, 2016 9:13 pm

Realistically you should only come here if you can afford to do so without having any job at all. That's the most likely scenario. We occasionally get people who pipe up that they found work, but what we don't see in here is the vast majority - people who assumed they'd find work but end up leaving because they couldn't afford to support themselves, people who live on rice and food banks, people who need to walk an hour to school as they can't afford bus fare. And no, you can't just decide you're willing to do cleaning. I know several people who have been turned down by hundreds of unskilled-job employers and told over and over again that they only employ people with Finnish skills. Regardless of whether you can get to a decent level of speaking, it's always easier for an employer to take on the person with better Finnish (ie the out-of-work FINNISH university student, not you).

One of our regulars actually commented on her university classmates. Not one of them has found work and all of them assumed they would. I've forgotten who it is but am hoping they've seen and will reply to this thread. That's reality for foreign uni students.

You asked if you should go to France to do your masters instead, the answer is hands-down: yes! Rejoice in the fact that you have this as an option, you are truly very fortunate and it'd be madness not to take this deal. You can then explore Finland as an exchange student, which is definitely another win for you. I can't see any reason whatsoever to recommend that you try and do it the hard & silly way by coming direct to Finland instead.


User avatar
Pursuivant
Posts: 15094
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:51 am
Location: Bath & Wells

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by Pursuivant » Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:30 pm

If you haven't done your education in the French system, have not done the 'matric', you are also in French university 'etranger'
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."


User avatar
Pursuivant
Posts: 15094
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:51 am
Location: Bath & Wells

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by Pursuivant » Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:33 pm

Agree 100% with leisl, take the French uni, then go on Orgasmus... Erasmus sexchang.. exchange...
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."


betelgeuse
Posts: 2620
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:24 am

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by betelgeuse » Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:54 am

sandrinecharlotte wrote:Would it be better to do my Masters in France where I know I'll qualify for benefits and then do an exchange at the University of Helsinki?
Finnish Kela study benefits can be used for studies abroad. Maybe France allows the same (and might be required by the EU).


sandrinecharlotte
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:55 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by sandrinecharlotte » Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:39 pm

leisl wrote:And no, you can't just decide you're willing to do cleaning. I know several people who have been turned down by hundreds of unskilled-job employers and told over and over again that they only employ people with Finnish skills. Regardless of whether you can get to a decent level of speaking, it's always easier for an employer to take on the person with better Finnish (ie the out-of-work FINNISH university student, not you).
I wasn't suggesting that I would be willing to do cleaning, I just read that that's what most foreigners ended up doing. But based off what you previously wrote, there really isn't any hope that I could get a job in my field without speaking decent Finnish?
Pursuivant wrote:If you haven't done your education in the French system, have not done the 'matric', you are also in French university 'etranger'
Apart from university, my education was done in the French system, so I'm not too worried about that.
betelgeuse wrote:
sandrinecharlotte wrote:Would it be better to do my Masters in France where I know I'll qualify for benefits and then do an exchange at the University of Helsinki?
Finnish Kela study benefits can be used for studies abroad. Maybe France allows the same (and might be required by the EU).
I'm more concerned about the housing benefits, which France doesn't allow to transfer. My parents make too much for me to get financial aid unless it's a loan.

The general impression I'm getting is that it's best for me to stay in France or the US and do a semester abroad in Finland. Thanks for the advice! (:


TeppoKroatialainen
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 1:59 am

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by TeppoKroatialainen » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:21 am

Keep in mind that the Kela benefits are a bit different if you come to Finland with a purpose of studying.

if you decide to come here and then look for job i would say that you should count your life expenses would be MINIMUM 1000 euros per month, and then rent guarantee can be 2 or 3 monthly rents.

So if you decide to come here and then look for jobs etc, pack at least 3 to 4 thousands euros. Just a friendly adivce


leisl
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:26 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by leisl » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:46 am

sandrinecharlotte wrote:I wasn't suggesting that I would be willing to do cleaning, I just read that that's what most foreigners ended up doing. But based off what you previously wrote, there really isn't any hope that I could get a job in my field without speaking decent Finnish?
Not zero hope, but no guarantees. It's true a lot of foreigners do it. It's not true that it's chock full of non-Finnish speakers, or that most foreigners manage to get into work. The immigrant unemployment rate in Uusimaa is 27%, and remember that a lot of foreigners actually come here with jobs already lined up - meaning that the ones who arrive without a job are hugely likely to be unemployed for some time.

(Can't find it right now, but allegedly the average time to finding work is somewhere in the region of 1 year and 8 months, for immigrants. This ties in with the approximate time that people tend to reach the level of A2.2 or B1.1 ish in Finnish language, if they get into language classes, ie, they've done the whole waiting and filling out forms and traipsing from department to department shenanigans, then attended a year of language instruction, then gone looking for work.)


biscayne
Posts: 629
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:43 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by biscayne » Wed Nov 23, 2016 11:48 am

One of our regulars actually commented on her university classmates. Not one of them has found work and all of them assumed they would. I've forgotten who it is but am hoping they've seen and will reply to this thread. That's reality for foreign uni students.

I am the one who posted on this.

Of 24 classmates, 4 were Finns who chose to study in English. They are supported by Kela while studying so do not have serious financial problems. All 4 found summer work too. Their major problem is to not earn too much during the school year or they lose the Kela support.....

The rest were a mix from both developed and developing countries. 2 were/are registered nurses who are from developing countries but qualified as nurses in Finland, speak Finnish and worked part-time during this course. Those who came to Finland purely to study assumed they would find work and some of them were sure they would get Kela money (I mentioned before that Kela came and gave a talk to explain who is and who is not eligible for Kela money.

Otherwise:

2 Nigerians - did not find work, thought they would get Kela
1 USA - no work, no Kela, eventually moved to Helsinki to do kind of au-pair work for a US/Finnish family after the coursework was done and she could just write the thesis which can be done anywhere
1 Nepalese - no work, no Kela
1 Pakistani - was already in Finland, qualified pharmacist, working in relative's restaurant, cannot work as pharmacist
1 Russian - qualified MD, no work, no Kela, moved to Helsinki. Working for cleaning company at 9.50 per hour, took her 1 year to get that job.
1 Ukrainian - qualified MD, no work, no Kela, did the coursework, moved to UK to work as MD while writing the thesis as could no survive financially otherwise
1 UK - was already in Finland due to partner, got Kela because of "family ties" and works part-time in British kindergarten via a previous connection

Above just a sample, the others did not find work either. Generally people seemed to think they would be employed in bars, supermarkets etc. No chance without very good Finnish.

I got a paid internship at the Uni, and summer work in a Health Institute in Helsinki which was quite well paid. But, it was short-term and finite and I got it because I had specific knowledge of a project they were doing on a specific subject and it was all through English due to the nature of the project. I was very, very lucky.

The other thing is that many of the foreigners seemed to believe that a Finnish masters was going to be their ticket to stay. There are no jobs, seriously, there are none to be had as a result of this course. The only option is to stay on and do a phd if it is a paid one, or go and look for funding if it is not.

Finding employment after the degree in Finland depends on what the area is: if it is IT, programming etc., yes, there are opportunities without perfect Finnish. If it is nursing, there may be jobs, but unless your Finnish is perfect, you will be relegated to elder-care which is where most foreigners are. In my view, doing things like business degrees here and expecting to stay and find a great job is not going to happen, even if you learn great Finnish, a local will always have the edge.


leisl
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:26 pm

Re: EU Citizen seeking to study and potentially work in Hels

Post by leisl » Wed Nov 23, 2016 4:06 pm

Indeed. Thanks, Biscayne. I'm thinking of my own classmates too and their situation isn't much different. Qualified Russian engineer painting fingernails by word of mouth. Estonian lady working with Russian tourists, thanks to her Russian language skill. Qualified Chinese (banker? I think? something finance?) who now works in a restaurant (family connection got her that job). Qualified accountant & financial controller also working in a restaurant via connections with her ethnic community. Russian lawyer carrying bricks on a building site. Russian girl is cleaning, afaik it also took her a year to get that (was a live-in companion to an older lady in return for free rent). Brit gone home.. another Brit gone home... third Brit gone home. American taken his Finnish wife home. Tunisian/fluent French & English speaker wants to take her Finnish husband back to Tunisia. Thai lady is the only one who seems to kick enough backsides to have found work really fast. Waitress in a Thai restaurant though... so.

Then there's me, 7 years and no permanent work so like the majority who stick around I'm working for myself. It'd be impossible were I not supported financially by my partner.


Post Reply