"I want to be a suomalainen” – Zakir’s investment in a university degree paid off
Zakir arrived in Vaasa from Auckland, New Zealand where he was studying and then teaching at a Business School. He wanted to further educate himself and started to search for study programmes and scholarships in countries with good work possibilities after graduation. University of Vaasa came up and Zakir applied for the global academic excellence scholarship for the master’s programme in International business
Besides the help and support from the teachers, the University of Vaasa also offers each arriving international student a tutor.
– This is an amazingly good service. When I arrived in Vaasa I did not know much about Finland or Vaasa. There was a bus waiting at the airport for me and other arriving students. My tutor had picked up my apartment key for me, so I was taken directly to my new home. The next day she organized a tour of the university campus for us to get acquainted with Tritonia, campus restaurants and all the lecture rooms. This help is very appreciated.
– She even invited us to her own home, where I got my first encounter with the Finnish delicacy salmiakki. I put it in my mouth and then I asked for a glass of water and swallowed it. I did not want to be rude to her and spit it out. Nowadays, I like it though, Zakir laughs.
Zakir is actively recommending people to apply at the University of Vaasa.
– I think I made a very good investment when coming to Vaasa, so I can really recommend the university and the city to everyone.
Working in Finland
During his studies, Zakir worked as a trainee at our university’s HR department, and he also got a job as a Research Group Coordinator.
– I learnt so much from working with my international HR colleague Hanna, and the leaders of the Administrative Sciences Research group Christoph, Sorin, Khuram and Helka. Such wonderful people.
Zakir also worked at The Korv Görans, a restaurant at Palosaari, for three years.
– Finns are very welcoming and exceptionally kind. Niklas Borg, owner of Korv Görans gave me an opportunity. I always felt valued, respected and part of his team. I still call him now as friends, as we always are, Zakir smiles.
Now, Zakir is working in Helsinki at Prohoc Projects Oy, a company that provides project management, control, information, and construction management services globally.
– I was looking for entry-level positions and saw that one of my course mates were working here. I put the company on my list to follow and applied when they were looking for the summer talents. I did a video interview and some tests and got a job for the whole of this year!
The growth of the company is steady, so Zakir is optimistic that this job will continue also throughout the next year.
– My title is Global Mobility and Project Admin Assistant. My work is divided into two major tasks. I offer global mobility help to our expats going abroad, help to relocate with practical travel arrangements such as airline bookings, hotel and accommodations, visa and site access permit application management, stakeholder management with relevant Finnish and foreign government agencies to report expat postings, making sure that they are well taken care of in the destination country. The second part is with our project ERP system administration. I do forecasts and reporting for work hours, labor expenses, billing revenues, purchase invoice checking, and make sure that all hours made are in the system for salaries. It is kind of a project admin control task.
– The job is very interesting, sometimes very unpredictable and a challenging, when people need to go abroad urgently and often there are local country specific entry regulations and Covid restrictions are in place.
Living in Finland and becoming a citizen
Zakir lived in Vaasa for several years and now he lives in Helsinki.
– Helsinki is very busy, everybody is in a hurry, and no one stops to talk. Helsinki is brick & motor, trams, trains, and buses, so it’s easy to move around. Vaasa is sea, trees, nature, and nice people. A bike is all you need to take you around the city, he laughs.
– In my free time I like fishing. In Vaasa, I was the most successful with my spinning rod. I have so sweet memories of fishing for pikes, my biggest pike was almost two kilos. During my best Summertime, I got over 60 pikes. I do not like to eat pikes, so I mostly release them back. I do like and eat perch, that’s a very good fish! In Vaasa, I have friends with boats, so we can fish straight from the boat in that beautiful archipelago.
– Did you know that you can see the northern lights in Vaasa? I have seen these once, it is spectacular!
Zakir finds Finns very global-minded and most of them speak fluent English. At work, all material is available in English and team meetings are held in Finnish as well as in English. He had one course in Finnish at the university but will now study more and learn the language.
– Finland is now my forever home. I am convinced that I would like to be a suomalainen, he says with a big smile.