MSc Research Seminar for Thesis-Writing in Economics

Looking at the computer screen, day in and day out, reading lectures, research papers and looking up data for the regression analysis, thesis writing is no cakewalk. When I joined the research seminar for thesis writing in September (it is a 5-credit mandatory course at Hanken), I was looking to have some guidance for this crazy-looking goal of thesis writing which was to be completed in the timespan of a few months. For your reference, it would help to add here that, since I am a QTEM student, I also had my exchange semester in Germany at the same time (October 2020 – March 2021 still continuing). This meant I had to complete a full semester of studies for my exchange in Germany, participate in the Global Business Analytics Challenge as part of QTEM, work part-time as a fundraiser for Amnesty, build my application documents for my PhD applications (more on this later!) AND alongside these, I had to start writing my master’s thesis. To say that I was hard-pressed for time would be an understatement.

But, as they say, today’s tears water tomorrow’s gardens, and so I sat, during the autumn evenings in downtown Helsinki, looking up resources for my thesis. I am still in the process of writing it (I have time till April 2021), and I have found the research seminar course, which Hanken offers, to be extremely effective in pushing me to set timely goals to accomplish my thesis-writing goals, and also providing me with guidance from my thesis supervisors regarding all aspects of the process. Here, I want to walk you through my experience of taking this 5-credit course so that you know exactly what to expect when you go through this same process at Hanken!

Btw, the autumn in Finland is spectacular.

Pro tip: Visit the cities outside Helsinki (Lappeenranta, Kuopio..) to experience the authentic Finnish autumn. If not, there are some pretty nice places to enjoy the autumn in Helsinki as well!

In my experience, the research seminar was divided into 4 checkpoints:

  1. First Meeting and Thesis Topic Submission
  2. Thesis Supervisor and Methods Lab Paper Presentation
  3. Seminar Report and its submission
  4. Seminar Report Presentations and Discussant Presentations

First Meeting and Topic Submission

All meetings were held online (as well as all the classes), owing to the pandemic. Held in the first week of September, the seminar’s first meeting was a short introduction to the structure of the course. We were familiarized with how the course will proceed, the deadlines and the outcome expected from the course. The professors/thesis advisors also introduced themselves and their areas of interest for our reference. We were familiarized with the functions of the methods lab. The Method’s Lab is set up to help students with the data collection and guidance regarding the econometric methods. Then, we were invited to introduce ourselves and our possible thesis topic if we had something in mind.

Thesis topic (Planning Report) submission: After the first meeting was held, we were given around 15 days to come up with our finalized thesis topics and a short 2-3 page description of the objective of the thesis, the methods we were planning to use and the data-collection-procedure (if-any) we had in mind. This planning report was expected to be submitted by 22nd September (approximately 15 days after the first meeting).

Thesis Supervisor and Methods Lab Paper Presentation

The thesis supervisors are assigned to the students after the thesis topics and the short descriptions are submitted. The students then have a chance to have meetings with their supervisors to discuss their proposed methods and get guidance for the way forward in order to get started with the data collection. During my course, the meetings with the supervisors took place about a week after the thesis topic submissions i.e. in the first week of October.

Methods Lab: During the same time (September last week), we had our first methods lab session where we were introduced to the two method’s lab assistants. The methods lab supervisors were two post-doctoral researchers at Hanken to support the thesis project. The methods lab is designed to focus on how empirical research in economics is done and to help those students who plan to do theoretical work or run simulations. A couple of sessions were organized in the beginning of the fall semester for those who had registered for the seminar. These sessions focused on how research and especially empirical work is done in economics (i.e. overview of steps and the process, including tips for data sources and gathering especially in economics, discussion of the choice of econometric methods via examples, general advice on the choice of software, etc).

The lab subsequently continues on an individual basis. These sessions could offer personalized advice to the students regarding methodological issues relevant for him/her.

In our first methods lab session, we were given an assignment for the next session: to select and present a peer-reviewed research paper related to our thesis topic. The presentation was held in the last week of October (26.10) and each of us was to do a 20-minutes’ presentation and an additional 10 minutes/presentation was reserved for Q&A.

The short presentation of a peer-reviewed paper related to our thesis topic proved to be very helpful for me as I went through many research papers in my chosen topic and studied them to critically analyze and present of them to my class. The econometric methods used in these previous research papers guided me for my own thesis.

Drafting the Seminar Report and Submitting it

The seminar report is approximately 20 pages long and is designed “in the focus of a detailed and critical, but constructive seminar discussion in the seminar group”.

This report should include a theoretical discussion of the thesis topic as well as its main background research papers (literature review). It should also enunciate the empirical methods to be used and provide a convincing argument/presentation of the methods. Moreover, it should include a well-defined and precise plan of how to continue.

For designing the seminar report, we may book sessions with our thesis advisor, take guidance from the methods lab assistants and our peers.

Since the seminar report is the foundation of our thesis, we were advised to work diligently and meticulously on its preparation. We started preparing the seminar report since the start of October, going through many research papers and building the theoretical part of the report. We also decided on the data-collection and empirical methods with the help of our advisor. The deadline for the submission of the seminar report was December 3, a week before our seminar presentations.

Seminar Presentation and the role of the Discussant

The seminar presentations were held approximately a week after the seminar report submission deadline (9-14 December). 60 minutes were allocated for the presentation of each report (35 minutes presentation + 10 minutes discussant presentation + 15 minutes Q&A).

Further, each participant was assigned to serve as a discussant (opponent) of another student’s seminar report. The discussant was strongly encouraged to prepare a carefully structured PPT, or equivalent, to support his/her presentation, outlining the key areas of improvement for his/her opponent.

Our seminar presentations were held virtually in a highly professional setting, with each participant being timed and critically analyzed by both the thesis advisor as well as the other participants. The discussant presentations were also highly informative and educational, in addition to making the presentations more engaging.


The economics research seminar course for thesis writing proved to be a rigorous and valuable experience for me as it pushed me to follow a previously well-defined timeline. It also allowed me to critically analyze the seminar reports and presentations of my peers in a professional setting.

I had fun taking part in this course (the course is mandatory) and retrospectively, I would choose to take part in it even if it wasn’t compulsory because of the immense help that I could get because of it. Overall, my experience in the research seminar was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone planning to write their master’s thesis in their second year.

I hope you have a wonderful spring! Please don’t hesitate to contact me in case you have any questions regarding any of the economics master’s courses at Hanken or anything regarding the life of an international student in Helsinki!

Email me at:

Time-management for students. How to do everything at once?

Deadline! A word that no one really likes, especially students. There was a moment in every student’s life when a deadline crept imperceptibly, and a 3000 word essay had to be written overnight.

However, that doesn’t have to happen every time you’ve been asked for an essay, project, or homework assignment. The life of a student obliges to prioritize learning. The main task is to learn how to template everything in a way that there is time for participation in student organizations and events, hanging out with friends, trying out new hobbies, and, perhaps, even for getting enough sleep.

With my five year experience of being a student (firstly on a Bachelor’s and afterwards on a Mater’s level), I can say with confidence that it is possible to achieve successful time management. Practice and willingness to change are essential here. In addition, it requires a completely new daily routine. To cut long story short, let’s briefly discuss some tips and tricks that were helpful for me.

Invest in a desk calendar

This option helps me to be organized. It doesn’t matter what size this calendar will be, the main thing is that you will have a whole month in front of your eyes.  Thus you can distribute your tasks evenly, and not leave everything till the las moment.

Start making a to-do list

It sounds corny, but it really works! This technique will help keeping track of what needs to be done by the end of the current week. Start with upcoming deadlines and list them in the importance order. Crossing the completed tasks off in this list is such a pleasure!

Don’t delay your homework for the next day

Try doing your homework on the same day you get the assignment. The new information is still fresh in your memory, and you will get through the tasks much faster! Thus, there will be more time for checking and there will be no need to be nervous and rush at the last minute before the deadline.

Get ready for the lessons with friends

Make an appointment with a few friends and meet after school to do assignments together. If the meeting is already scheduled, you will not want to let your friends down and come up with excuses at the last moment. The social aspect is also important, because it is imperative to maintain good relations with other students at the university!

Find your favourite place to study

Try to find a place where you get used to doing your homework. The location should be quiet, spacious and sufficiently lit. The fewer distractions, the more productive you will be. The library is my favourite place to study. I am sure that you will find a comfortable environment for yourself.

Don’t be afraid to interact with teachers

If you are not sure whether you understand the topic or assignment talk to your professor! Maybe he will give advice or a hint that will be very valuable and helpful. Don’t be afraid to say your doubts out loud. The professor in his turn will appreciate your activity and interest in the subject. Nevertheless you shouldn’t contact the teacher on the last day before the submission of a large project!

Listen to yourself

The very first semester in a university is usually a busy period. As a student at Hanken School of Economics, I can confirm this. While studying should be a priority, remember to take care of yourself and take breaks. Sometimes you just need to breathe in and out, get a good night’s sleep, meet up with friends and take a walk. Time management may seem like a daunting skill, but you don’t have to change everything at once. Start with one thing at a time and try to turn it into a habit. Remember, if one piece of advice works for someone, it may not work for you. It’s important to try and find unique ways to solve the problem. Over time, you will learn to treat deadlines as opportunities for self-development, and not as an additional burden.

If you have any questions about studies in Vaasa – energy capital of the Nordics, please send me a message to

Get Involved, Get Connected, and Build Your Network!

Whether it be for pleasure, work, or personal sociability, getting involved is quite important in the steps to building something (such as a future career). At Hanken and within the student body, there are many ways to get involved in addition to coursework, ranging from SHS committees to clubs and more. Recently, I have joined the Masters’ Committee in order to better get to know other like-minded students as well as contribute to ensuring that Hanken and its masters program boast a welcoming environment for students.

High involvement is also an outlet where one can foster friendships but also creativity. I enjoy being a part of something where I can exercise the creative side of my brain, rather than just the analytical (which is often what many courses focus on). It might seem difficult to make time for further involvement, considering many work as well as study simultaneously, but in doing so, you will find that you are able to still take a break while doing something fun and useful. Making time to socialize and using it as rest during busy times is a great way to balance school, work, and other involvements.

As a businessperson, it is furthermore without a doubt that the relationships you build are very valuable to both personal and professional success. There is possibility to ‘network’ in any situation or place – whether that be at the grocery store, in the classroom, or at an event. It seems that many here are not so forward in this sense (especially in informal settings), but it is no problem to be direct and friendly! In fact, many will appreciate you for your candidness and willingness to engage and befriend others.

By networking, I have not only made professional connections but also friends that share similar interests (in sports, travel, etc.). Even more recently, I was able to find my first job in Finland as a result of friendly networking. In addition, I have met many others that share similar passions or are much further in their careers, of which we had interesting conversations that I have learned from.

In addition, maintaining a solid LinkedIn profile is of utmost importance. Be sure to keep your LinkedIn up to date, including your work history, summary, profile photo, and just about anything else you see fit. Oftentimes, LinkedIn is the first place someone will go to get a better idea of who you are (in a business environment) – and as we know, first impressions are powerful!

Let us take 2021 to not only build lasting friendships but to also get connected and involved while simultaneously strengthening our personal networks!

Best wishes,

Sophia Rahimeh (

Making the most of the last piece of 2020

Time flies! Now we are approaching the year end.

For a second-year master student who takes research seminar this semester, master thesis and Christmas holiday make up the last month of my 2020. Regarding the research seminar, participating in and coordinating with everything course related online is something new and of course challenging. However, 11.12 probably marks the happiest day for many of us as it is the end of our last oral defense session as well as the seminar course. I cannot wait to share the memorable experience including struggle, excitement and happiness during the journey from my own perspective.

Due to the constrained regulations, the course was held online including presentations, discussions, as well as contact with supervisors. I found it is not easy to keep track of the process without having on-site lectures on a regular basis. There were two weeks that I felt unmotivated and suffered from anxiety, so I ended up making no progress in my thesis. Then my friend from the same major dropped me a line and we started keeping in touch with each other since then. We share not only latest findings or inspirations of our topics, but also our concerns or struggles with the experimental study. Besides keeping each other updated, another way to make the online seminar course more interesting is to participate actively in other students’ oral defense. Through the discussion, presenter could get some inspirations from the audience while discussant could learn something meaningful from the educational paper and prestation. Moreover, the brainstorm would also provide you with new ideas regarding your own study or even inspire you somehow in the long run.

After the intense seminar course, many of us could finally take a small break from the essay and enjoy a relaxing vacation. While finalizing this article, I am on my way to the northern part of Finland. While trees in the south is still green, the ones in the north are covered with thick snow. Even though the whole drive will take more than 8 hours, I am quite enjoying the journey as the breathtaking view outside never fails to surprise me. This will be my first trip to northern Finland and I am 100% percent sure it will become a memorable experience.

Hope you are all doing good and have a wonderful Christmas with loved ones. If you have any related questions, feel free to reach me out via

Why research skill should not be taken for granted in future work life?

Fundamentally, research is an important skill that every student would need at school. It could either be the pre-work of your presentations at class, the 3000-word worth of essay or exam revision, you name it. However, it can be fairly surprising to know that research is actually a desirable skill that come in handy for various career choices.

But you might be surprised to learn that effective research skills will also come in handy in a wide range of careers. So, in our today’s blog, we’ll take a better look into what research skills are and why they matter at work.

What are research skills?

In a nutshell, research skills assist us finding answers to questions. It is the ability to search for, find, collect, analyze, interpret and assess information that is relevant to the subject being researched/studied. Throughout human evolution, research is what help us to learn new things, to adapt and to evolve. In brief, research is fundamental in shaping the future.

Everyone is a researcher

Some might think, research is a “scholar” thing that only researchers, scientists, undergrad/grad/post-grads do. However, based on the definition that I’ve just mentioned above then we all research on hourly/daily/weekly/monthly basis, on different scale from small-sized topic to a project with significant impact. Nowadays, when internet has become an inevitable part of our lives, performing some simple lookups on search engines, i.e: Google, Facebook, etc. is already considered research – whether if you’re finding a cheap flight, a top-notch restaurant or stalking about someone of your interest.

Things involved in a research work:

The research work, most of the time, includes following activities:

  • Find and gather information from different sources, for instance e-articles, search engines, textbooks or journals.
  • Select the credible information that suits your research requirements
  • Use your critical thinking skills to analyse the information.
  • Interpret your analysis to wider audience
  • Write reports and present your research to others.
  • Reflect on the research and how the process went, so that further studies can be improved

Why do research skills matter at work?

In order to come up with new (if not radical) ideas for better ways of working and innovations, one needs to be a Master of research. That said, employers would like to look for individuals possessing sharp critical thinking that pairs with good research ability. Most development works involve exploring new things i.e innovative methods, tools and processes, then carrying out “Proof of concept” (POC) activities to evaluate the findings – whether if the solution works for the organization’s case, given its characteristics and mode of operations. In simpler terms, research skill demonstrates your ability to suggest new ideas and help the business adapt to ever-changing world that we currently live in.

For many companies, research is viewed as an effective, if not a crucial method in mitigating risks and saving money. For instance, launching a new product is expensive and risky, hence, research on market situation. i.e PESTLE analysis will be of great help for companies to find out if the demand will be high, hence if the market is worth entering. From there, better approach to general strategy formation can be achieved.

Undoubtedly, if you are interested in pursuing a career choice as scientific researcher, then research is apparently your job. Nevertheless, if this is not the case, then research skills will be advantageous across wide range of roles. Below are some examples of where and when research skills might be required:

  • You might need to investigate information about the economy if you have a financial job.
  • If you work in Supply Chain & Operations, you might need to study about new digitalization opportunities for your supply chain, about new tools and processes that can be employed to optimize your operations, etc.
  • If you work in Sales department, you might need to research and write a report about your competitor situation, about market situation or about a new strategy of how your team could sell more products.
  • A digital marketing manager might research ways to reach more customers via social media, etc.

Noticeably, effective research skills also rely on the proficiency of other transferable skills, including but not limited to:

  • Time management
  • Communicating information in a clear and simple way.
  • Taking initiative.
  • Lateral thinking.
  • Problem solving.

Inherently, these essential skills will also be improved once your research skills are enhanced accordingly.

That said folks, do not fall asleep in your research classes!

I hope that this blog post is helpful for you, if not now then at least at some points in the future.

Have a great new week! 🙂 Thank you!

Hanh at

Learning outside Hanken…….within Hanken! The JOO study system

Hello dear readers! Jitesh here, again. Previously I had talked about how learning law at a business school felt like having the best of two different worlds (link to that blog is here). This time, I’d like to talk about a third world that is open to all Hanken students: the JOO study system.

The JOO or Joopas is a flexible study rights system based on an agreement between all Finnish universities. Under this system, students can include courses from other universities, which are not taught at their own universities. The wiki page for the Joopas system lists the following universities as a part of the system:

  • Aalto University
  • Hanken School of Economics
  • Lappeenranta University of Technology
  • National Defence College
  • Tampere University of Technology
  • Univeristy of the Arts Helsinki
  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Tampere
  • University of Turku
  • University of Vaasa
  • Åbo Akademi
  • University of Eastern Finland
  • University of Jyväskylä
  • Univerosty of Oulu
  • University of Lapland

As a Hanken student, this system allows you to take courses which are taught at other universities, and to include the credits from those courses in your transcript at Hanken. But the process to apply for the flexible study right and to obtain the credits requires a bit of homework, so I thought I’ll share with you the details about the process here:

  • Reading up about Joopas.

A good starting point is to read Hanken’s own webpage which talks about the joopas system. Be sure to make a note of the different deadlines, as the application process to study any course in one semester usually begins much in advance, in the previous semester.

  • Visit the study counsellors

A visit to the study counsellors is always helpful, as they are always willing to help students with issues they might have about the credit requirements or transcripts etc. And when it comes to the JOO application, the visit is essential! Usually the study counsellors would like to know more about why you want to study a course outside Hanken; and also if you have your study plan ready.

  •  Make a study plan

For master’s degree students applying for the JOO right, a study plan of 120 credits is a must, laying down all the subjects that the student plans to study for the duration of the degree, and also how the relevant course outside Hanken fits into the plan, both in terms of credits and in terms of how the course for which the student is applying, will help them in their degree.

  • Complete all formalities at Hanken:

The study counselors may make some requests from the student, about their study plan or their reasons for choosing to study outside Hanken. I recommend that the student complete these formalities as early as possible because there are additional steps required after the application is accepted by Hanken.

  • Waiting for acceptance from the Finnish university.

The next step, after the completion of formalities at Hanken, is that the study counsellor (or their equivalent person) checks the JOO application to see if everything is in order as per their requirements. Usually the student would receive an email from the university asking for any clarifications or additional requirements.

  • Enrolling in the course!

The JOO is essentially a “right to study”, so it does not act as a guarantee that the student will be able to take up the course for which they enter the JOO process. So it is vital that the student also apply to the course in the internal system of the university where their application has been accepted. Usually, applying for the course would occur through a portal like weboodi.

  • Completion and transfer of credits.

Once the student successfully completes the course, it again becomes the student’s prerogative to apply to get the study credits (and grades) back to Hanken. This process also does not happen automatically!

How I had done this:

I had first become aware of the JOO study application system because I wanted to study Competition law and such a course was not offered at Hanken. I found out that the University of Helsinki’s faculty of Law offered such a course which would begin around March 2020. So to enroll myself in that course, I had applied through the JOO system around October 2019. I went through all the seven steps listed above and now I have the credits for the same course registered in my own weboodi!

The process might seemed a bit daunting to begin with, but the study counsellors at Hanken and the JOO coordinator at the University of Helsinki were really cooperative and friendly, and so it was pretty straightforward in the end!

I hope reading all of this was useful for you, dear reader! As always, feel free to reach out to me at 

How to Manage Studying in the Pandemic

Corona has, without a doubt, managed to turn the world upside down. During this unprecedented time, we’ve all found ourselves homebound for weeks and even months at a time and this has forced us to learn to do, otherwise mundane and everyday things, in a brand-new manner. Studying is no exception.

As it is, most of us find studying to be a difficult task. Once upon a time, we could still force ourselves to get into the groove by going to the library or planning study groups and such. Being surrounded by people who were studying would be motivation enough for us to start. But the pandemic has ensured that we can’t even do that. Which is why, what was already a difficult task to do has become even more difficult.

So, how can one mange to study during the pandemic? Here are a few tips and tricks that have worked for me.

  1. The first thing is to try and look at the positive side of being stuck at home. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but it isn’t impossible. One positive is that at least being stuck at home means there are far less distractions than before. Parties, dinners, get togethers are all not happening and so you don’t have an excuse to put off studying. Now you don’t have to make the difficult choice of finishing that chapter or missing out on a fun night. You’ll be able to get more done.
  2. Creating your study space is also very important. If you have a study desk in your room, that’s ideal. Make sure to remove any unnecessary stuff off the table and make space for your books, notebooks, and laptop. If you don’t have a study table, then find a nice comfortable spot to sit in. Make sure that the desk and table are at level to avoid backaches. Make sure the study space is away from distractions such as the television, the main door or even the kitchen! Also try to keep this space organized so that your notes and books aren’t misplaced. This is especially important if you live in a shared space.
  3. Communicate to others at home what your schedule is. If you live in a shared space, make sure that everyone knows that you’re sitting down to study and that you shouldn’t be disturbed unless its an emergency. Your roommates can also help you keep on track with your studies. Tell them if they catch you wasting time, they should remind you to stay on schedule.

I personally used these tricks to get into the mood to study. Another important tip is to give yourself credit too. This situation is entirely new to you and there are no guidelines on how to cope. Give yourself time to adjust and if for the first few days, things don’t go as planned, don’t give up. With time you’ll learn how to study in this new kind of normal.

Let me know if you have any questions at!

Living in a country, where you don’t speak the language. At first!

Hey, it’s Barbora again. A second-year master’s student in International Strategy and Sustainability. This one’s for all of those who fear the Finnish language (I used to be one of you). Or those who feel the uncertainty of moving to a country, where you don’t speak the language. Or anyone who’s thinking of giving up on learning Finnish (can’t blame you really).

When I moved to Finland, I didn’t know what to expect in many different areas of daily life. Language being one of them. And like most people moving to a country where you don’t speak the language that is mostly used, I was freaking out a bit. Sure, the fact that Finns are known to be great English speakers was slightly reassuring, but still. I’ve heard horror stories from people trying to learn Finnish, with most of them ending in the same way – “I’ve tried for about 10 years and then I just gave up”. What a motivation.

My only advantage probably was my (for a foreigner definitely unusual and excessive) knowledge and liking of Finnish music – mind you, obviously not the one performed in English. And so I was coming to Finland equipped with words such as vapina (tremor), varikko (depot) and tarunhohtoinen (fabulous/legendary). Okay okay, I just picked these here on purpose and the translations are only somehow right, but once again, I’m sure you get my point. With such an “extensive” vocabulary, I’d probably be quite comfortable at a concert of some Finnish artists, but the outlook wasn’t too good for just asking directions to the nearest store.  

Anyways, my point is – it was really scary, coming here. My friends were trying to comfort me by pointing out that literally everyone in Finland speaks English. However – I actually perceived that as a problem and a barrier to my Finnish learning. It’s just way too easy to NOT speak Finnish in Finland. You just don’t need to, in most parts of your everyday life (but sure it’s useful for a lot of things – may I refer you to my other blogpost about finding a job in Finland here).

With my first day in Finland began my difficult and ongoing journey to learning Finnish. I’d say it’s been actually going better than expected. I started taking Finnish courses straight away – not just at school, but additional ones too. It’s been just over a year now and I managed to get through the first three Suomen Mestari books (basically a bible of Finnish language learning), just starting the fourth one now. Officially, my level is something around B1.1., which I’d probably find quite disappointing after all the effort that I’ve put in – if it were any other language but Finnish. Finnish is…special. Interpret that in any way you want.

So, how did I get to where I am? I’m sure there’s many ways to learn Finnish, but here’s what I did! First of all, what are you going to need?

  1. A lot of positivity and willpower. I’m not even kidding. Learning a language can be quite stressful and frustrating. Yeah, learning A LANGUAGE, any language. Now think about the fact that the language is Finnish. Much worse. 
  2. Time. If you’re not willing to invest a couple hours a week, then there’s just no way you can expect progress soon. Just like with any other language really.
  3. Motivation/purpose. Why do you want to learn Finnish? If you don’t have a clear answer to this question, why even bother. I am learning because I want to live in Finland and feel more integrated in the society. And I also want to be able to talk to my boyfriend’s mom, who does a great job understanding English, but doesn’t speak it too much.

And now, how to learn and what resources to use?

  1. Courses/classes. It’s just better to learn with other people, isn’t it. The stress of thinking that you’ll be the worst in class just keeps you motivated! No really, just get a teacher. They’re great at explaining ridiculous grammar things.
  2. Read. News. Books. Anything. May I recommend YLE’s news in easy Finnish (uutiset selkosuomeksi) and books for kids (easier versions of Moomin books worked quite well for me).
  3. Listen (to music, to the radio, to people’s conversations….). A great way of learning to understand spoken Finnish!
  4. Make yourself talk. At the store, at the post office, at the restaurant…anywhere. People will probably try to switch to English if they see you struggling, but you can just keep trying in Finnish and most will understand and appreciate your efforts! I still remember this one nice lady at a café where I came to get coffee during my first month in Finland and I ordered in broken Finnish. She was kind, talked slowly and gave tips on what are some things baristas can ask you and what are things one can respond. I came out of the café with a great cup of coffee and newly found confidence. Never ordered coffee in English since.
  5. I’m sure there’s more, but you’ll figure that out yourself!

Two last pieces of advice I’ll leave you with – don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up. Learning a language CAN be fun, but just like a lot of other things, it is what you make it. So – make learning fun for yourself and I’m sure you’ll be a Finnish expert in no time. And hopefully I’ll be too.

Onnea matkaan. 

In the meantime if you have any questions please drop me a message at

How to get the best of your traineeship?

Hi everyone,

Hanh’s finally back with her blog after couple of months 🙂

Today I’d like to share with you guys a story about my summer traineeship at UPM and some fundamental lessons that I’ve picked up along the journey. Now, seat tight and tag along for the next couple of minutes, okay?

Around 8 months ago, after having gone through several interview rounds with KONE for their International Traineeship Program (ITP), I was very hopeful about my summer – dreaming about the day when I’d set my foot on the company ground. Unfortunately, life isn’t always what it semms – Covid-19 hit & destroyed all the norms. Just a few days from my then-latest interview session, KONE made an announcement that their ITP was called off due to the severe pandemic situation – crushing the dream I’d had few days before that. I recalled vividly that I was heavily struck by the news since KONE ITP was one of the only 2 programs that proceeded further with me through the application round. Disappointed. On one April evening, I couldn’t help bursting into tears because of the huge stress coming from all those uncertainties for my future (that accumulates nicely with the approach of my 2nd year-meaning the last year of my Master study). Then, all of sudden, on the next day afternoon – when I was taking a walk around my neighborhood for a fresh breeze of air after studying, I received a call from a strange phone number:“Are you Hanh Pham?”

– “Yes. May I ask who’s calling?”

– “Ah, I call from UPM. Do you remember having applied to the Summer Worker position in UPM Supply Chain in December?”“Yes!”

-“Are you still interested in the position?”

-“Absolutely!” – I answered with eagerness & (lots of) hope

-“Great! Then I’ll forward your profile to the hiring manager and if it matches their needs, we’ll be in touch shortly for an interview”

The call was purely magical, if one may put it. Seems like a powerful force of the Universe had found a way for me. I received a call-back immediately the next day and the interview happened only few days afterwards. The entire recruitment process happened in ‘a blink of an eye’ and already in mid-April, I’m one of the summer trainees at UPM Pulp Supply Chain organization.

At first, I expected nothing more than just a summer job with some “rookie” tasks that would end nicely with a “break-up” on the last day of summer. But I WAS ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY ENTIRELY WRONG! Blessed with luck, my tasks were never boring and not rookie at all, my bosses always valued my opinions (hopefully) and my relationship with UPM has been going strong *knock on the wood* still, since I was offered a thesis work in August when my contract was about to end. You see how my initial perception was completely defeated? Admittedly, this has been the best summer job, ah no sorry, BEST JOB I’ve ever had thanks to all the rich experiences and especially the people I’ve worked & connected with throughout the summer.

All those spectacular experiences with amazing people there would be incomplete if I don’t mention about the lessons that I’ve picked up along the way. To be honest, they come quite handy at times. Here comes a few key, invaluable lessons that I would love to share with all the Hankeits out there to maximize your traineeship/internship experience:

1. Keep your expectations level moderate but your motivation level & work ethics high (if not extremely high).

Be positive and open minded because your attitude speaks better than words!

If you ever wonder what can possibly be more important than your professional skill sets, i.e those fancy dashboards you built from Power BI, those regressions you run on Python, etc., then I’d tell you – that is ATTITUDE. Your attitude is the best showcase of yourself that everyone can see and feel almost instantaneously.

Always be open to learn new things, to listen to people’s experiences and to adapt. Do know that people would be more willing to teach you and help you develop if you genuinely show your interest and eagerness to learn and to become a better you every day. 

2. Never say “I can’t/It can’t be done” before trying things out – Remember to take on challenges with a bright smile

This is possibly the greatest thing about being at a trainee/entry position: You have a room to explore yourself, your company and the world; to try things out: to fail fast and to learn your lessons fast because everything is so flipping new to you and most of the time, everyone understands that you always learn things by doing (most effectively through failures though) 🙂

Things that you’ve learnt at school – true that not all of them reflects reality but DO NOT take them for granted! Try to apply something your professor once said at class and retrospect once in while about those concepts/lectures that were stuffed into your head. You might not notice but it does help (if not a lot then at least to some extent) shaping your critical thinking ability and organizing your thoughts in a structured way.

3. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others, even just to ask for a coffee break together – Expand your network!

I think one of the best things when it comes to workplace is the people – those individuals that surround you every day and form what is called “environment”.

They will be the influencers of your professional behavior, the catalyst for your personal development, and in most of the case, the motivation that drives you to work. Without you having realized, but for those people – you are also one of the influential factors. That said, be nice & happy to ask your colleagues how they have been, be courage to build relationships with them and get involved in their work life actively. There’s no better way to expand your network than a 15-minute conversation over a cup of coffee (tea, in my case) or a lunch table filled with laughter.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge conventional way of thinking – Speak up your opinions because you’re better than you think!

Two of the most obvious yet toughest things to do are raising questions and challenge other people ways of working. You might think that your ideas are stupid but maybe you underestimate the importance of “out of the box” thinking. I’m quite sure that once you got your opinion across the table, at least, people will be aware that you have your own view about certain things and that your view is different from others. Naturally, people would reach out to you, asking for your opinions about certain things because they know that you have a different perspective and creativity.

Taking these actions will definitely build up your courage, self-confidence and credibility. I know that the feeling is unpleasant sometimes because who would like to be wrong, right? But remember what Neil deGrasses Tyson once said: “I love being wrong because that means in that instant, I learned something new that day.”

So, that sums up pretty nicely my traineeship experiences and some lessons I was able to get out of it. Hope that you’ve had a good read! Thank you if you make it to this point of the story 🙂

If you have questions – send me an email

Some practical aspects of student life in Finland

Hey there! In today’s post, I’d like to share some insights into everyday life and tell you about some opportunities to save money in Finland (which is always pleasant 😊). It is known that Finland is not a cheap country to live in – especially if you don’t have an income in euros. But the good news is that being a student gives you great benefits in many ways! So, let’s take a look.


Personally, I’m aware of two accommodation companies in Helsinki, which work specifically with student housing, – HOAS and Arcada Nova. Both have rooms’ and flats’ quotas for Hanken’s students for an affordable price (much cheaper than a private market), and together with the acceptance letter from Hanken, everyone gets clear instructions on how to apply for housing. It’s easy – and after filling in the necessary forms, you should only wait and hope for a good offer😊. Since the competition for this accommodation is pretty high, I recommend taking what is offered! 

lived in buildings from both companies, and each has own pros and cons. If interested, please, text me through e-mail noted at the end of this post and I’ll tell more.


I think the system of public transport in Helsinki is really good! Firstly, there is a well-established culture of bicyclists, so it’s nice if you have a bike. If not, you can buy one super cheap from various C2C marketplaces in Finland, e.g., or rent one through Helsinki City Bikes. Within the same “category” I would highlight e-scooters, which are not that cheap but can be convenient for a quick ride at short distances (plus it’s simply fun😊).

Secondly, trams, trains and buses are equal in the sense that you can use the same ticket even if you change the means of transport during the day. There are single tickets (lasts for 80 minutes), tickets valid per one or several days, and seasonal ones, which is the most suitable option for regularly travelling students.

The seasonal ticket can be bought through the HSL application or offices (the main one is at the central railway station). At that, as a student, you save 45% of the regular price!

HSL pricing for students

In addition, my favorite part about transport here is the schedule of buses – due to special night routes, in the Helsinki area buses are going almost 24/7, so you can not to worry to stay late at the party and get home by early morning.


Another amazing thing in Finland is the existence of volunteer initiatives that give the food a chance for being useful even if a date of expiration is close and supermarkets already cannot sell the products. Thus, all that you see on the photo is absolutely edible and was gotten for free 😊.

During the first time in Finland, though, I had to calculate a limit of money that I can spend per day since everything seemed (and actually was compared to my country) incredibly expensive! At that period, I stopped being fastidious about my food, which is a plus 😀 Anyway, I would still recommend to all newcomers in Finland to have some sort of financial plan for several months ahead, so you wouldn’t be unpleasantly surprised when it is time to pay for bills.

Of course, as a rule, it is cheaper to eat at home than visiting restaurants, however, with student cards such as ISIC (international student identity card) or Frank card, you have an access to many discounts in cafes, museums, entertainments as well as many other places. So, it is definitely worth having it!


After the huge variety of cuisines that you will find in Helsinki, it is a good idea to think of some sport 😊. Normally, student accommodation has a free gym for tenants, but if you find it too small or want to make some fitness/yoga/badminton/etc., then you should take a look at Unisport and see that there are super prices for Hankeits!

All in all, those several points hopefully will make your student life in Finland easier and better, and you always can learn more from me and other fellow students 😊. Drop a message here if have any questions:

Good luck!