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FINDING MY “SISU”: learning to persevere in the times of a pandemic.

Hello, dear readers! Jitesh here, again!

In February, I wrote my first Nordic Brilliance blog post (link here). A lot has happened between then and now.  Covid decided to enter our world and change it in ways that we are yet to fully grasp. I just hope that you and everyone close to you has been able to stay safe!

For this piece, I decided to write about trying to find my “sisu”. This word has kept me constant company ever since a Helsinki tour guide last year explained that there are three “S” important to all of Finland: Sauna, Sibelius and Sisu.

The interesting starting point about describing this Finnish word, is that there is no proper translated equivalent for it in the English language. Quite a few people seem to have different interpretations for what it means, but there’s no one standard agreed upon definition. Some say that sisu stands for grit or determination, some others that it is a philosophy of life, and there even seems to be a legend that one must not talk about sisu, rather just acknowledge that they have it.

I’m happy to report that I have absolutely no idea about which interpretation is right, or if there’s actually a means to find out ! The way I have come to understand it, is that sisu is about having the resolve to keep going on, no matter what. We may have various reasons for doing what we do, but sisu is not just about the reasons, but rather it is the feeling that we must actually complete the tasks we set out to do, no matter how adverse the situation around us might be.

And well, surely the situation around us in the recent past has been quite adverse! The pandemic has been tough on everyone. The most basic things that we took for granted, like going to class together, or enjoying a meal together, suddenly became a risky endeavor. We had to be isolated from each other to ensure our collective safety. International students like myself, even had to take the hard call to not go back home because travel itself had become a risk to both ourselves and our families. Ever since the restrictions were announced in March, I have been coming to terms with the new realities of life in this post-pandemic world, where interactions with others are limited, and distance learning/distance working have become the norm.

But still, in these times of adverse circumstances, here’s how I’ve tried to find my Sisu:

Finding courage: Like for everyone else, the pandemic laid waste to the plans that I had for the summer and beyond. Life suddenly hit a reset button, and here I was, with no clue as to what would be coming next, and no certainty about how things will turn out in the future. But it was in these very moments, that I came to realise on a deeper level, the importance of sisu. Simply feeling helpless would not solve anything. The first thing to do was to find the courage to plan the journey ahead. Only by finding the strength within me to face the situation, could I actually face the situation!

Friends and family: One thing that I reminded myself constantly was that I was not alone in this. Even being away from home, the friends I had made, especially those at Hanken, were more than willing to help me out with the situation. And I also tried to offer a helping hand wherever possible. I have to say that the way I have bonded with the people around me this summer, I have made friends who I’ll cherish forever because they came through in the toughest times of isolation in a foreign country. Another thing which cannot be stressed enough, is the importance of old friends and family, whom I could connect with through the internet. Even in virtual forms, their company has been essential!

Help from Hanken!: Hanken itself, did a commendable job in handling the crisis, and continues to help students out in dealing with the pandemic. There have been constant updates about the measures being taken by Hanken, and guidance on the dos and don’ts of daily life. The shift to remote learning has been almost frictionless, and the rules for attendance and teaching have been modified to make room for the students and teachers. Knowing that Hanken is looking out for me, helped me feel safer.

Self care: To find strength to persevere, one’s physical and mental strength need to be intact as well. I have tried to keep a regular routine throughout this period, with walks in less populated areas and a little exercise at home. I also constantly watched self help content from Kanopy, whose subscription is provided free to Hanken students. It has good resources for stress management and self care. I also have been in touch with the Finnish Student Health Service, which provides healthcare services for all students in Finland, Hanken students included!

Summer/online courses: even though the number of classes reduced, the number of online courses and summer courses increased. I had a lot of fun doing the course called Communication, Learning and Cognition: An Alliance for Professional Success. It was a pilot course whose basic premise was to make students discuss about what learning means to them. I highly recommend the course to everyone because it seriously is something exceptional and thought provoking!

To conclude, I think that this time period has been one of tremendous growth for me. The situation of the pandemic has been unprecedented in every sense of the word, and we all need to continue to find the strength to deal with it. I don’t know whether I have understood the true nature of Sisu in the time I’ve spent in Helsinki, but I sure can say that I have at least found my own version of it while dealing with the Covid situation.

Thank you for reading! As always, feel free to reach out to me at Jitesh.Gupta@student.Hanken.fi.

Balancing study life

Studying for a Master’s degree can surely keep you busy indoors for long stretches at a time. Visiting the library and sitting in front of a computer doing research, have taken much of my time in the first few weeks of this semester. Particularly, during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are not that many possibilities to go out and enjoy some relaxing hours with your friends in a restaurant or bar. Nevertheless, a healthy work life balance is important for the success of your studies. I would like to introduce you to some of the exciting outdoorsy things Helsinki has to offer. These spots are not only great summer destinations but also offer spectacular views now in the autumn with the leaves changing color.

Below are my three favorite places to visit in and around Helsinki when I am craving some nature. They are no secrets and can be found in most guidebooks for Helsinki, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that also after many visits, it is always nice to go there. And the best part is, you can get there easily by bus or ferry from Helsinki city center.

The most popular destination and also the nicest one in my opinion is the national park of Nuuksio. It is located just about half an hour by car from the busy center and you can also get there by public transport. Busses leave from Kamppi bus station (about 10 minute walk from Hanken) and bring you out to Nuuksio for a nice walk or another adventure in nature in about one hour. Nuuksio is a nice destination for a summer day but also spring and autumn have their charm. Different seasons offer different views throughout the year – leaves turning orange in autumn and trees starting to sprout light green leaves in spring. Nuuksio is a great destination all year round.

Finns love their national parks. Another destination for nature lovers not too far from Helsinki is Sipoo national park. The landscape is divers and there are nice hiking routes for everyone. The routes travel through pine and birch trees and  A highlight of Sipoo national park is the traditional Finnish smoke sauna at Kuusijärvi. Particularly now, with longer and colder winter nights coming, a hot steam in the smoke sauna and then a dip into the adjacent icy lake, if you dare, is a great adventure. Sipoo can be reached by bus from the main railway station in less than an hour.

If you don’t want to stray too far from the city center, Suomenlinna is another great place to visit. This UNESCO world heritage site is just a few hundred meters of the coast of Helsinki and can be reached by ferry from the marketplace. In the summer, Suomenlinna is popular with tourists but in the autumn and spring the island can be a very quiet place with many nice nature spots to enjoy. If you come at the right time, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset.

If you want to learn more tips on how to balance Master’s and life drop me a message at karina.ebeling@student.hanken.fi

Discovering New Tricks to Stay Motivated

Hello there! Hope you are doing great and enjoying the last piece of summer.

Today I am going to share some new tricks I just discovered to motivate myself, and hopefully this could provide you with some orientations😊Let’s get started!

Every day has been basically the same since Teams meeting started to dominate our lives. With schoolwork and part-time jobs (remotely) on my hands, keeping myself concentrated has the top priority on my list. What I normally did is to make a detailed to-do list beforehand and stick it on my laptop to remind myself those are the key assignments I need to finish today. This approach worked well for quite a while however, from time to time I found myself easily getting distracted when following the plan too closely. This doesn’t seem to make sense, so let me explain a little bit😊

Having a well-structed or full schedule is not always the best way to be productive as your brain may need to unwind when your to-do list says “no rest, keep going!”. It is not possible to predict when your brain may resist working tomorrow when outlining what you need to do, so one thing happened quite often to me is that when rest time comes according to my timetable, I was so focused on my current work that I would rather not take a break. On the other hand, sometimes I forced myself to strictly follow my schedule and stay focus even though my brain was complaining about not having enough rest. As I found setting detailed plans is quite tricky and I lose track of time occasionally, I felt the urgent to make some changes.

Instead of filling my timetable with detailed tasks (e.g. from 9-11 a.m. ~ continuing with the literature review), I only set hours estimated to finish the assignment today (e.g. literature review~ 2 hours). This is a way to make my schedule more flexible as I can decide when to do it and how long I want to focus on it one time according to my preference. Continuing with the previous example, with the flexible and adjustable plan, I can do the research either from 10-11 a.m. & 1-2 p.m. or from 9-11 p.m. if that suits me better.

To be honest, I was not a morning person. Hiking in the early morning was the last thing on my list until one day when I got up pretty late and saw the beautiful sunshine through the window, I started to think how the sky looks like in the early morning and what I had missed. So, the next day, I decided to capture the sunrise for the very first time.

The next day, the view I saw at 6 a.m. didn’t let me down, the world looks totally different. Everything is so fresh and brand-new. There is no one around me (even though it happens quite often in Finland 😉 and after a short walk I feel so ready to start mt day. After the attempt, it got me thinking that instead of taking the beautiful nature for granted, we should feel and absorb the energy it gives us.

In closing, two new tricks I’d like to share with you guys are as follows:

  • Be in tone with your brain. Make more flexible daily plans.
  • Embracing the nature and sunrise in the morning is a good way to start a productive day! Why not give it a go?

Thank you for your time. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line via wanafang@student.hanken.fi.

Summer courses at Hanken

Time flies, and here we are in a month from summer already, so it’s a good time to reflect on the departed vacation. As Reetuparna mentioned in her post on the internship in Helsinki, students indeed have various activities to choose from during the summertime. Since in my previous university summer courses weren’t a common practice and I did only internships during vacations before, this year I had the first experience of studying in summer. Even though Hanken always had been offering summer classes, this time a curriculum was complemented with numerous additional online courses due to special conditions and closed boarders. Thus, students being in any country could start their thesis in frames of summer Research Seminar, learn a new programming language, deepen knowledge on management.

Besides, Hanken’s summer podcast was launched with researchers’ and professionals’ talks on entrepreneurship, innovativeness and current challenges in life and business, and I liked this format very much! 🤩 It was convenient to listen while drinking coffee or riding a bike since episodes were simultaneously informative and short. You can find something interesting for you here: https://www.hanken.fi/en/news/hankens-summer-podcast-talks-about-economy-life-and-time-around-corona-pandemic .

This summer I decided to combine the internship and several courses, which eventually complemented each other very well, so I still had time to enjoy the hot days and have fun. I was an intern in the Marketing Department in the legal consultancy firm, and this experience appeared to be something really special! I did it partially in the office, and partially remotely. Look what a beautiful terrace we had at Helsinki office!

By the way, at Hanken you can also get from 5 to 10 credits for your internship, depending on its duration. All you need is to write a report on implemented practical tasks and analyze their connection with known theory. As for the summer studies, firstly I took the Excel course to refresh in memory useful shortcuts and formulas and learn some new features since we used this program on an everyday basis during the internship. In the company, I had to process a large amount of data and optimize massive tables, so my productivity noticeably increased due to additional practice. This course was taken completely online, so I could be wherever I want – even in the forest.

After that, I took the course on Consumer Psychology, just because of my interest in this field. This course was a hybrid one, so students could join the lectures both online and offline at Hanken class or watch the lectures as records. For me, that was a very unusual format, because at most of the lectures I was the only one student presenting physically, and all the rest students were joining online. I also could choose to stay at home or in the office, but I still prefer live communication over the digital one, so it was a pleasure to ask questions and share some thoughts with the professor in person.

Despite the distances and novel format (you can read more about it here: https://www.hanken.fi/en/news/teachers-hanken-develop-innovative-teaching-methods), active communication and exchanging experiences among course participants were provided through chat, forum and video-connection, therefore this course was very intensive and insightful!

Me in the empty class

Looking back, I can say that this summer was definitely special and I’m very glad that students had an opportunity not only to choose from a wide range of summer courses at Hanken but also to study in a safe and innovative way. If you want to learn something new all the time, summer courses are a great option, enabling you to mix business and pleasure during your vacation 😊

If you have any questions about Hanken or Finland, feel free to text me here: anastasiia.strokova@student.hanken.fi

Enjoy the golden autumn!

Summer Research Internship in Helsinki

Summer is the most beautiful season in Helsinki, especially since it is so short, and the weather is delightful. Everywhere you go, you see happy faces and positive vibes, and boy, a lot of style. The grey-black overcoat hues of the winter give way to colourful floral dresses and printed jeans when the sun finally shows up.

PIcture of a girl

Summer is not only a time to rejoice and have fun, though. It is also the time to gain some valuable experience (and earn some side cash!). Some students take summer courses to keep themselves busy while their credits climb up whilst others choose to take up summer jobs and internships. I chose the latter, and I am glad to say that I have had a wonderful experience working as a research assistant for two professors from Aalto University this summer.

Landing the Internship

picture of coffee, computers

Before the entire corona shutdown started in mid-March, I was working as a fundraiser for Amnesty, walking on the streets, talking to people (amazing conversations, I must say!) and raising funds for Amnesty. But soon after I joined as an enthusiastic new fundraiser, the government announced that they were shutting down all public spaces and schools and I got a call from Amnesty within a few days to tell me that they were stopping the fundraising until further notice. That was a bummer since I was just starting to have some fun going out after the cold and dark winter months of Jan and Feb. The April-May examinations were approaching, however, and soon enough, my mourning for my job loss gave way to the stress of writing exams. But as these things were happening rapidly and as time was flying past like it always does when you want it to go slow, I had the nagging awareness at the back of my mind that I might not have anything to do after the examinations were over. I wanted to intern somewhere, but I had no idea how I was to land up a job amid the pandemic, let alone one in my own field. If I haven’t mentioned this already, for an international student who doesn’t know the language here, it is not exactly a cakewalk to find employment. But I knew that there was one job where I would gain adequate exposure and experience, and it wouldn’t require me to have Finnish language skills: research! I understood that working as a researcher needed me to have English language skills and an analytical bent of mind (which I have ), and might I add with a highlight, good connections. Even though it had only been less than a year that I had come to Helsinki, I wasn’t going to give up on my hopes because I didn’t have enough connections. I promptly started searching for professors and PhD students at Hanken, Aalto and the University of Helsinki who had an interest in my specialization in Economics. I emailed the ones which I found suitable and waited for their response. To my joy, two PhD students, one from Hanken and another from Aalto, were enthusiastic about helping me and giving me advice. One of them even gave me the contact of his PhD supervisor who had the same interest as mine and recommended that I email and ask him about any research positions available. Within a few weeks, after some to and fro of emails with the professor, I finally got an email from him saying that they would formulate a summer research project for me under two professors of Aalto and funding for the same was being approved!

My happiness was at peak and excitement was settling in as I realized that I finally had a chance to work as a research assistant under not one, but two professors. Adding to my joy was the knowledge that I was actually going to get paid for doing this (you don’t get used to this fact especially when you come from New Delhi where the phrases ‘getting paid’ and ‘interning’ seldom were used in the same sentence). While writing my exams that month, I was continually thinking about the internship that was going to start in a few weeks.

The internship experience

graph picture

Starting in June, the research internship was going to be more interesting than I anticipated. My professors were knowledgeable and supportive. I had meetings with them every week to show them the progress of my work.

In the first meeting, we discussed my interests and expectations out of the three-month project. We also had the job to decide the topic of my research internship.

The following weeks comprised of me reading research papers and analyzing them, giving feedback to my professors and discussing possible areas for extension of the models presented in those papers.

The most enjoyable part of these first few weeks was my awareness that I was reading papers which had been published just weeks or even days before I was studying them since the topic of my study was so recent. Studying this current type of research methods gave me more exposure and experience than I would have got otherwise.

The second month was spent developing my analyses of the papers that I read and forming my own extensions of the models. This was, I must admit, the most interesting for me because imagination and analysis are amongst my key strengths, and I loved the feeling of studying and adding to the current research in real-time. Discussing my ideas with my professors and getting feedback from them was most valuable, and I learnt a tremendous amount about what are the limitations and scopes of theoretical and empirical research in reality.

The last leg of the internship was completed with me replicating the results of the most relevant papers using R and Python. This step was challenging for me since I had had limited experience with these two statistical packages before this time, and I was new to coding in general. However, even with the initial slow pace, I managed to replicate the results and present them to my professors before the period of the internship ended.

Afterthoughts

I would say that I am grateful to both my professors, who guided me through this three-month project. Their ideas and feedback were very insightful, and I learnt a lot throughout the summer.

Not only did they guide me with the summer project, but I also received some great suggestions about how to enjoy the summers in Helsinki and which places were best to go to for a jog. I was encouraged to enjoy the summers and not lose this opportunity of seeing the sun in Helsinki!

Overall, I cherish this experience and would recommend it highly. Not only did I gain knowledge through this opportunity, but I was also able to earn while doing so.

Keep on the lookout. There are always opportunities lurking around the corner, you just have to notice and grab them!

I would love to talk to you in case you have any questions about studying in Helsinki or anything else you have in mind. Just drop me an email at reetuparna.vishwanath@student.hanken.fi J

Have a great autumn!

A happy end to the struggles of searching for a job in Finland

I don’t know about you, but ever since I finished high school, I worked alongside university. Time management has never been a problem for me, or I was just really lucky to always have very tolerant and understanding employers 🙂

Anyway, when I arrived to Finland and started studying at Hanken, that was the first time of me being a university student and not having a job, something which I did not particularly enjoy and wanted to change. And so, the months of unsuccessful and stressful job search started. When I first moved here, I was definitely not expecting that it would take me about 8 long months to find a job – but why am I saying this? Not to discourage you, but to give you an insight into what is the reality really like and that there’s hope for us all in the end!

Don’t get me wrong – Finland is a welcoming country for foreigners, it really is, and I love it with every piece of my heart, yet, the stressful time of job searching definitely made me curse Finland in its entirety many times. There are jobs available, everywhere – and yet, sometimes it seemed that I was lucky enough when I at least received an automated rejection email (trust me, this is hard to admit!). Amount of work experience wasn’t a problem – I’ve had plenty – the issue was in something else that most foreigners end up facing when looking for a job in Finland – the language.

I’ve been studying Finnish since I’ve arrived in Finland, which has now been over a year – and I’m at a solid B1 level, I’d say. So yeah, solid for ordering food at a restaurant and exchanging a couple of words with my neighbor, but hardly fluent enough to meet requirements of companies, who sometimes phrase their language requirements in a way that it’s clear that the only person they will consider is a native Finn. Sure there are jobs with no Finnish language requirement, but I can’t count the times when I applied for a job, went through an interview process, only to be emailed in the last round of applications a version of “sorry, but eventually we have chosen to select a candidate who speaks Finnish, as that just makes everything easier for us”. Easier. What a nice thing to say and to make me feel totally useless!

Anyway – Finnish companies have their right to require a knowledge of Finnish, it’s obviously necessary in certain industries. Yet, it just seems that some companies are simply lazy. Why would you say that your company language is English only to refuse an applicant without a fluent level of Finnish? That’s something I still don’t get. Thankfully, the culture is changing – but it still needs a little help and a little time. And what it needs the most is the voice of those who care about this issue – be it international job searchers or Finnish employers with a conscience. They’re out there and I was lucky enough to find them.

After months of search and frustration, I got lucky. Lucky enough to find an internship in an area that I am very passionate about. I wish I could give you a recipe that’s proven to work. However, in this case, it was really just my LinkedIn search and connecting with people, trying to build a network, finally paid off – and it’s definitely a channel I’d recommend for your job search in Finland. I was at the right place at the right time and got accepted into a growth hacking internship on the day I applied. The person who hired me is the first person in Finland who actually gave me a chance – and I know they know how much I appreciate that. Long story short, after a couple of months of this internship, I got offered a full-time position at a befriended company, which I’m now working at and I’m happier than ever.

So, a couple of tips from me:

  • Don’t let a job ad written in English fool you. Check carefully, there’s probably a little blurb about speaking Finnish written at the bottom.
  • It’s usually either really big companies or really small companies and start-ups that are operating in English and they welcome foreign talent.
  • Just because a company claims it is international, doesn’t mean it is and they’re willing to accept foreign job seekers. Do your research!
  • Reach out to companies you’re interested in! Most jobs are never advertised, so why not ask for one yourself?
  • Accept that there’s some roles that are simply impossible to tackle without the local language – face-to-face customer service in certain areas is unfortunately out of the question.
  • Challenge people. If you’re really interested in a job and the language requirement seems excessive, ask! Some people learn and realize that it’s unnecessary.
  • Don’t give up. You’re going to find a job. Or a job is going to find you!

I hope this was more of an encouraging rather than discouraging read! If you have any questions about job searching in Finland, I can try giving you advise based on my own experience, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me at barbora.stuchla@student.hanken.fi. And remember – be persistent and patient. It’s going to pay off.

Barbora

Summer Course Experience – Python for Business Intelligence

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a nice, sunny summer despite the rather upsetting situation at hand. Today, I am going to share one of the exciting things I learnt during the summer – coding in Python and its application in business!

Python for Business Intelligence is an introductory course in Python, part of the Information Systems specialization. During the summer, it was offered as an online course by Ashkan Mohammadi who specializes in the field of Entrepreneurship at Hanken’s Vaasa campus. Since it is a beginner’s course, it aims to familiarize students with Python syntax from a very basic level – variables, loops, if-statements, and exceptions, among others. This is taught through multiple exercises which are individual assignments.

On the flip side, the course is also well-suited for advanced users of Python as well. It familiarizes students with basic machine-learning and data-visualization techniques, a solid foundation to study more advanced topics that can be conveniently used in the thesis. Various business applications of Python are taught through group assignments. Overall, the course aims to enhance students problem-solving skills, which is one of the most sought-after skills in the corporate world.

An advantage of learning to code in Python is that it is an Object-Oriented Programming language which, in layman terms, means that objects are considered data structures containing their own customized functions. This allows programmers to reduce complexity in code and make changes without crashing the program. In the course, we learnt to make objects around a Point-of-sale System, with methods to add/remove products in a customer’s cart and a method to shop products, while on the back-end this acted as an inventory management system. Object orientation can also be adapted to applications in other fields such as Finance and Supply-Chain management – virtually speaking, the possibilities are endless.

Python boasts great integration capabilities with other programming languages such as C, C++, Java and even parse HTML using a library called BeautifulSoup. It features data structures such as tuples, dictionaries and lists which are particularly useful in interpreting data-interchange formats like XML and JSON. In the course, we learnt how to interface MongoDB, an online database which stores data in JSON, using Python commands. This can be used to conveniently store and retrieve records from online servers.

Another impressive feature is how fluently Python integrates various API services such as Google Maps, YouTube, and Twitter among many others. Along with extensive support libraries, this feature can be used to derive meaningful data that aids business decision-making. In the course, we learnt how to analyze comments from a YouTube video using polarity-based sentiment analysis. This was conducted through a Python library called VADER which uses natural language processing (NLP) techniques to gauge sentiments from social media text. Unlike more advanced NLP techniques, VADER is relatively simple to use and caters social media lingo like emojis and repetitive letters. Using this technique, for example, a business can judge how its latest video campaign is perceived on a scale of -1 to 1, and correspondingly make better decisions for the future.

In the last project of the course, we were introduced to machine-learning algorithms in regression modeling. The idea was to train the model on the ‘train data’, validate its parameters and then test its efficacy on the ‘test data’ with added hyper-parameterization. The project task was to predict the price of a car using a database of features and car prices. Machine-learning techniques such as Lasso, Decision Tree, Random Forest, Ada Boost and Gradient Boost were used to find the best performing model which had the highest overall R-square.    

Python for Business Intelligence turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences of my journey at Hanken! Not only has it opened new avenues for my research, but it has given me a hands-on experience of how businesses can leverage Python to make data-driven decisions in the fast-paced world of today.

If you have any questions on studies or life at Hanken just let me know at sohaib.ahmed@student.hanken.fi

How did Corona save my time management?

Covid-19 is obviously the “hot potato” among the most highlighted topics globally due to its range, scale, and severity of impact. Without a doubt, the pandemic has caused numerous downside effects and disruption to everyone’s daily routine, regardless their nationality, status, and profession. Working remotely or working from home (WFH) is one of the noticeable effects caused by Covid-19 and it is triggering a controversial discussion on whether if this is an efficient working method. Personally speaking, after more than two months of working intensively from my “home office”, I have definitely seen both the pretty and ugly faces of this practice.

The pretty thing that can firstly be spotted from WFH is definitely the travel time cut-down.

During this time, I don’t need to get up super early to get ready for school or work. Especially, it saves me more than 1,5 hours per day commuting back and forth between my apartment and Hanken, which is a very big deal.

Plus, I received an offer to a part-time consulting project and a full-time summer traineeship at UPM. In the normal case, I must decide which one should I let go and which to stick around. However, under the circumstance of Covid-19, I only need to wisely divide my time schedule so that the work-study-life balance combo will be maintained. Eventually, I can also work double jobs and study at the same time without having to drop anything even though the workload is super crazy for me.  

On the ugly side of things, concentration is undoubtedly the ultimate enemy of WFH. Although I have an awfully load of work burdening my shoulders, it is quite challenging for me to keep my head on the ground and focus on my work. Distraction comes from all directions such as social media, Youtube, online shopping, bed (obviously) and whatever you name it which seriously undermine my productivity and efficiency. Longer working days is inevitably as the result of the two untamed beasts named “Distraction” and “Bad time management”. Furthermore, without any face-to-face communication and interaction, it became a nightmare to seek for help in case of emergency, regardless the nature of the problem (whether if it’s work or study-related).

So, learning from both good and bad experiences mentioned above, I would like to share with you some pro-tips that I’ve found particularly and (partially) helpful for me to stay positive and effective during this period:

1. Train your thoughts

As Eckhard Tolle simply put it: “The primary cause of happiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking”. Try to focus your thoughts and energy on the brighter side of any events that occurred throughout the day.

2. Set up a feasible and reasonable working timetable with mini goals along the day.

This might sound like an absurdly obvious and non-special method, but I bet not many people do it anyway. Nevertheless, it’s absolutely crucial. Even if you won’t be able to cross every goal that you’ve set earlier off your to-do list and follow your timetable in a strict manner. But at least, at the end of the day, you’ll realize what you’ve missed and need to be done in the following day and more importantly, how did you let that goal slip. A small self-reflection will naturally occur as a side effect of this activity, which is super good sign for incremental self-improvement.

3. Take a look at applications that can assist your working and boost up your brain activity level

Try, for example,

– Pomodoro app that enhances your concentration by setting up reasonable work-break interval (25 minutes of working will be rewarded by 5 minutes of break; after 4 mini-breaks you’ll get a long 15 minutes break). Believe me or not, this mechanism is incredibly helpful for your productivity and working efficiency.

– Brain boost applications that keep your brain going and trained throughout the day with quick, mini-puzzles such as Elevate, Peak, or Math Riddle (this one is a bit heavy on Math problems if you’re into it like me).

– Listen to concentration, deep focus music to get your mind focused on the task you’re executing.

4. Set up a “Love yourself” including:

  • Eat healthy, always prepare healthy snacks,
  • Intake sufficient amount of multi vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients,
  • drink enough water,
  • do more exercise, go outside for at least half an hour per day, and
  • interact with your beloved ones more often.

I hope that this blog will be relatable to you in some ways and be useful for your WFH routine. Now, enjoy the lovely sunny summer. A truly “thank you” for having spent time on this little blog post of mine 😀

Course review

Hi guys!
What’s up? Hanh’s back everyone! How’s life in quarantine going? Hope that everyone is doing super well 😀

I figured that no one has ever described a course in detail ever before in a “non-course syllabus” way or depict how exciting a course can get in previous blogs. A thought flashed through my mind saying that why not try to create a course review just like a product or movie review, right? At the end of the day, many of us would be puzzling with a question: “Is this course worth the time to invest in?”. So, in today’s blog, I would like to share with you about my amazing and practical experience attending a project course at Hanken, namely Project Course in CSR and Humanitarian Logistics. This course is actually a compulsory for those who pursuing their Master Degree in International Strategy & Sustainability and Humanitarian Logistics program. However, this is open to other students in other faculties as well, if someone is eager to contribute to the good of society through a meaningful project. Stated a quote directly from the course syllabus, which I found quite true for myself:

“The aim of the course was to immerse the students in questions related to CSR by analysing and solving real-world problems provided by case organisations and then presenting the results in class. Among the cases were questions regarding the CSR of family-owned businesses, producing videos about sustainability and CSR and making guidelines about CSR for startup companies.”

There were 16 projects, with various participating companies ranging from UPM, Fazer, or even Hanken itself to MSF or UFF in total for this year. Each student is free to choose and apply for three projects in descending order of interest based on the informed project topic (Freedom of choice is always a smart strategy to execute, especially on students :D). According to the application preference of the candidate for the chosen projects, the organizational and academic mentors will pick out the most suitable candidate for the project. As a creativity and curiosity-driven type of person, the idea of designing a museum content about natural disaster for Heureka – a Finnish science museum immediately captured my attention and I decided to go for it.

Over the course of the project extending from the beginning of P3 to the end of P4 in Spring semester, I was assigned to a team of 4 and we worked closely with Heureka on the project. Briefly describing about my project, Heureka is planning to create an exhibition about natural disaster and resilience in which will be consisted of four experience rooms illustrating the effects of the disasters and 4 interaction rooms allowing the visitors to interact with the content embedded in the exhibit. In this stage of partnership, we were tasked to create research-supported ideas for the interaction rooms of the exhibit, each relating to one of four natural disasters which can either be floods, storms, bushfires or earthquake. Throughout our project, we were able to produce more than 20 in-depth ideas for the interaction rooms based on the theory of disaster relief operations and game design. It was incredibly fun brainstorming the ideas with the team and presenting them to Heureka museum designers 😀

Attached herewith are the footage of our meeting sessions at Heureka. Very informal and exciting atmosphere. Every time meeting with Heureka, we were filled with joy of exploring the museum.

more exciting to hang out at the science museum as a course field trip??? At the end of the project, one of my teammates was highly inspired by the topic of the exhibition and is planning to cooperate with Heureka for his Master thesis. Heureka’s staffs are extremely intrigued by this idea, of course!

All in all, it was a super fun experience. Great teammates, interesting topic, and a great opportunity to networking and establishing professional contact to kickstart one’s career. What else can I for? Highly recommended for those who are hesitated or wondering if choosing this course is a wise decision!

Learning through doing – practical study cases

Undoubtedly, one of the best things in studying at Hanken is its closeness to the real business world.

In the previous post I promised to tell where to find the Finnish business representatives, but the good news is that at Hanken everything is already done for you  – professors often invite representatives of Finnish and international companies, and we get insightful stories about how business works and what challenges arise in the companies’ daily life. Eventually, you get a task to find the solution for some outlined problem, which should be feasible in practice, as well as grounded in studied theory. In this way, theoretical and practical approaches are blended in classes so organically, that it makes you feel valuable problem solver for the world challenges (no less :)).

Thus, for instance, during my first semester at Hanken, in teams of 5-6 students, we made the following exciting projects: development of sustainable brand management for Valio, design of customer and service strategies for Fiskars Group, development of digital service solutions for KONE, project on CSR and some others.

Customer journey

In all these projects my favorite parts are initial brainstorming and getting feedback from both business scholars and practitioners – especially when it is provided together with coffee and cookies in a beautiful office of company’s headquarter :))

Since for me it is important to see the relevance of gained knowledge, the application of new skills to practical business cases is a good motivation. Obviously being a great training for the skills of team working, time management and critical thinking, you feel that this approach to study definitely prepares you for the working life.  

Besides courses, Hanken offers other events and programs, aiming to set the bridge between student and professional life. Among them: companies’ fairs and business breakfasts, where you can meet people from business and learn what skills you should gain to become an attractive employee; CV-checking, interviews, case challenges and so on.

Also, for accelerating cooperation between international students and companies, some special initiatives are organized. One of them is the HankenHIT (Hanken International Talent) – initiative that helps students to set meaningful connections with companies in Finland through mentorship, internship, thesis-writing and other forms of communication. So, this is a great opportunity for both sides – for companies to work with international talent with a fresh look, and for students to get valuable corporate experience, or even find employment for the future. You can take a look at one of the stories of excellent connection here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQo7eXLG7LI.

In turn, I also got lucky to become a mentee in the mentorship program called EntryPoint, organized by Helsinki Chamber of Commerce. My mentor is a Finnish entrepreneur and he is helping me a lot with his experienced look and advice on business and life in Finland. What is also important, mentorship brings a lot of fun to both sides, and can be easily adjusted to more informal communication style. For instance, last time with my mentor we went to play bowling, and after that had a productive discussion in a pizza-bar 🙂 Currently, we keep in touch through video-conferences, continuing to share some thoughts, and for me it is valuable to feel that this connection will continue even after official end of the mentorship program. In the photo below me and my mentor Atte are at the kick-off of the EntryPoint program.

Anastasiia and mentor

All in all, I believe that the best knowledge is the one, which you can use in your life, and the best way to gain this is learning through doing, meeting new people, trying new things, working in teams and being creative. If it sounds good for you, you’re definitely a good match for Hanken and Finland 😊

If you have any questions, drop me a line at anastasiia.strokova@student.hanken.fi