Completing traineeships abroad has not yet gained the same level of popularity as student exchange. More than 400 students embark on Erasmus exchanges from the University of Helsinki every year, while prospective international trainees only number just over a hundred.
“Students from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Arts are most eager to head abroad for traineeships. The numbers of outgoing students from other faculties are significantly lower," explains Kaisa Pesola from International Exchange Services.
Take the initiative to find a placement
There are several different avenues for securing a traineeship placement abroad. For example, students can find a job independently and then apply for an Erasmus grant.
Lauri Aarnio, a student of political history who completed his traineeship at the Parisian PR company Open2Europe, says that he had no trouble finding all the information he needed on the traineeship
“I also checked the company’s website and social media channels to get a better idea of the kind of place it was. I don’t think finding information should be a problem in 2016, but it’s important to take the initiative.”
Erno Ristola, who studies marketing at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, was contacted on LinkedIn with an offer of a traineeship in Amsterdam. Ristola decided to seize the opportunity and head for a traineeship as a web editor at the international travel company TravelBird. He received an Erasmus grant for his traineeship.
The Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) can also offer traineeship placements. CIMO’s international traineeship expert Jaana Mutanen writes in her article that during the past few years, trainees are increasingly heading outside Europe.
Learn from other work cultures
An international traineeship can be beneficial in terms of both finding employment and learning about different cultures.
Jenna Vehviläinen, student in media and communications studies, completed her traineeship through CIMO’s North-South-South programme at the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Windhoek, Namibia. Vehviläinen says that her international traineeship increased her political understanding and broadened her world view.
“During my traineeship, I learned more than I have in a long time. MISA works to promote freedom of speech in countries where threats and violence against journalists are commonplace.”
According to Erno Ristola, who completed his traineeship in Amsterdam, international experience is valuable on the Finnish job market.
“I also think it’s important to learn about different work cultures, so you can work in a range of different situations.”
An international traineeship can be an important first step for students hoping to build international careers.
“I have always known that I wanted to work abroad after I graduate,” says Lauri Aarnio, who plans on returning to Paris.
It’s also easier to improve language skills when the working language is not your native one. Language requirements vary from one country and organisation to the next. For example, English is not necessarily enough in France or Germany.
“I got to use four different languages – primarily French and English, and, when I was handling affairs in the Nordic countries, also some Finnish and Swedish," Aarnio recounts.