Senior Campaign Manager, Reaktor, Finland
Graduated in 2020
The experience of living and studying abroad as well as the diverse group of people the programme attracts were highly inspiring for Oles. The programme allowed him to expand his worldview, especially because he learned as much from his classmates as he learned in the courses. His focus on communication during his studies led to his thesis topic on Russian propaganda, examining the language used in Russian media to frame Ukrainians as enemies. He is working in Helsinki as Senior Campaign Manager at Reaktor.
Why did you choose to study in the ICE programme?
I was looking for a programme along the lines of journalism and information. My major in the ICE programme was in speech communication.
What is your study background?
I got my master's in journalism back in the Ukraine. I then wanted to study abroad, but was not ready for doctoral studies. So I wanted to study something along the lines of journalism, where my background could serve as a basis, but which would offer room for further development. That is why I chose the communications track to diversify my knowledge. In Ukraine, I got a very practical base with my journalistic studies. The ICE programme was more academic with more focus on research than on actual journalism practice, which I found great.
What did you like the most about the ICE programme?
Firstly, the great experience of studying and living abroad as I am not from Finland. It opened new horizons for me. Secondly, our group of classmates and teachers was quite diverse, which was awesome. I learned as much from my classmates as I learned in the lectures. If you think about it from a more philosophical point of view, the people you spend these years with matter as much as the actual studies. This aspect was nice and we are still friends.
The programme itself was great. It might not be the most practical field of study. You are not going to be hired as an intercultural consultant right away. However, it is great for people who are interested in exploring this phenomenon called culture, because it is something so broad and complex that you can keep digging and never entirely find what is there.
When did you graduate?
In 2020. I extended my studies because I was writing my thesis. It took me an extra semester or two.
What were your areas of interest?
My thesis was about propaganda, concretely about the language used by Russian media to frame Ukrainians as enemies in their online media. Again, my focus was not the typical ICE focus but more on communication. The other ICE contents did not feel as relevant as my communication major. ICE courses were fun and interesting. To learn about imperialism was quite good. All those basics of Interculturality were great things to learn but not so much the focus of my research.
What is unique about the ICE programme?
In general, I think it is quite flexible. You can pick the courses and the themes that you are into and the people are unique.
How did you benefit from your studies?
It expanded my worldview. It may sound cheesy, but it is fundamental regarding self-growth not only to think about the lectures but also what is brewing in this diverse group of people. Concerning Interculturality, we did not only learn the theory but also practiced it every day with classmates. It was important and effective, and my main takeaway.
My advice for future applicants would also be to be prepared to practice what you preach. In other words, prepare to apply the knowledge you acquire in the lectures in your daily lives.
What was the best/most memorable course you attended and why?
The classic one would be Fred Dervin’s course which I cannot remember the name of. It is becoming a meme how provocative he can be as a teacher, which is very nice. I enjoyed the communication study groups with Saila. They did not feel like real lectures but more like a reading club where we read and discussed articles. It was good practice. I also liked a course on pop culture but was disappointed by my grade.
What would you say to students who are wondering whether the ICE programme is right for them?
A practical thing that I figured out midway is that next to the books and articles you study, there are many resources available in more accessible formats, e.g. video lectures and podcasts. Do not limit yourself to those articles that you have to read for your studies and expand your search with YouTube or some podcasts on the given topic. You can get similar or additional information in a more accessible format that might be more interesting to consume.
How did you find Finland and Helsinki as a place to study?
You can vent all day about the bad weather and the dark nights, but it is an amazing place to live and study. The facilities are great. The city is super comfortable and welcoming because everybody speaks English. It is a shame to admit, but I have lived here for seven years and my Finnish still sucks.
The thing to be aware of is the price level and living costs. When I was studying, I had to start working part-time because it is expensive to live in Helsinki. Make sure you either have sufficient funds available, plan to combine work and studies, or find some grants or scholarships.
What is your best memory from your time as a student?
There is a bunch. I had a great exchange semester in France, a period full of fun and new experiences. The moment I submitted my thesis was an amazing relief after months and years of struggle. It was also always nice to hang out with classmates at student parties.
What was your journey after graduation?
I started working during my studies, and have continued working. I changed companies a couple of times but in general, I have just been working.
Where have you been working?
My field is marketing. During my studies, I started at a start-up accelerator as an intern and then continued as a marketing manager. Now, I am working in the field of IT consultancy, so quite techy things.
What is your current job and how did you obtain it?
I applied for it. For my first internship in Finland, I used the university portal to search for internships (Jobteaser). I would recommend checking it out. Some internships do not require knowledge of the Finnish language. Internships are a good gateway to your first employment in Finland. Since then, I have just applied through LinkedIn and other things like that.
What is the coolest thing about your job?
It is never boring. My current role is very diverse. I am a marketing generalist, so my job involves production, graphic design, copywriting, photography, and project management. Marketing generalists do a million things. It can be stressful but at the same time it is never boring. That's the best part of it. There are always some interesting projects to work on. You just need to learn how to prioritize tasks and to push other tasks a bit further from the shelf.
Which challenges do you encounter in your day-to-day work?
As I have to handle many different things and there's always work to do, the main challenge is to make sure that there are no balls dropped and to prioritize the important.
Which skills have been useful in your working life and how?
Research skills in general have been useful although I'm not using them actively in my current role. In general, mainly my resilience was of use. Many technical skills have been important in my working life, e.g. knowing the software and other programmes in use. My analytical skills have been useful, e.g. for report writing. I also need copywriting skills and skills in creating visuals, which I learned by myself.
My advice to future applicants is that even if you are learning at the university and at lectures, it should not stop you from self-learning. You should expand and diversify your skill set, because in the future many roles will be taken over by technology, e.g. artificial intelligence and machine learning. We need to be able to do all kinds of things.