Collaboration between international students and local companies can bring value to both parties, but opportunities for collaboration are underutilized. Improving interaction between international students and companies is needed, if we are to have international students stay in the South Savo region after their studies.
South Savo has many international higher education students who come here to study for a full degree, do part of their double degree, or for student exchange. How well do you know these international talents?
The experiences of international students’ interaction and engagement with local companies from the South Savo region, their plans for their future, and the value they think they could offer to local companies were explored within the Exporting expertise and know-how from South Savo project. 34 students or recent graduates responded to a survey study and two students were interviewed in February and March 2022.
According to the study, many higher education students would like to stay in South Savo if they had job opportunities here. However, the results of the study paint a clear picture: interaction between students and companies needs improvement.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the study that companies should know and consider:
International students would like more contact with local companies…
When asked about what kind of contact they would like to have with local companies, most international students stated that they are interested in finding a paid job. However, many students are also interested in becoming an intern, do different projects for a company, carry out a thesis project for a company, or even just to volunteer. Simply put, they would just be happy to have meetings or contact with local companies.
Employment is not the only thing these students were after. These are ambitious global talents looking for meaningful opportunities where they can develop themselves professionally, gain important experience, grow their own networks, and learn about Finnish work culture as well as gain market understanding.
…but they are facing challenges
Only 16 % of the studied students think that it is easy to interact with local companies and less than 10 % agree that they have sufficient opportunities for interaction with local companies.
Higher education students would like to stay in South Savo if they had job opportunities here.
Almost all international students stated that a big challenge that hinders their engagement with local companies is that companies are looking for Finnish speakers. However, students think that this shouldn’t be a problem, as one of the respondents put it: “I think local companies put a lot of emphasis on having Finnish language skills but strong motivation with a good orientation to the job can also make a fine employee and improve Finnish skills with constant practise through work.”
On top of language barriers, students face other challenges. Often, companies do not answer when they reach out and contact them, there is little awareness on which companies even exist in the area, and there are not many job openings published. However, most students have what it takes to do the job especially after being educated in Finnish higher education facilities.
International students bring companies value
Most of these students think that local companies do not understand the value international students can bring. Students are not expecting to just get things from local companies, but to contribute something back as well. A good example of this mindset of mutual benefit is encapsulated in one student’s response, who said their aim is to “find a job in a company where I can bring value to the team, to become a specialist in the field of my study.” The value students offer for companies comes from their field specific professional knowhow and skills.
However, there is much more. They inherently understand their home country’s culture and business, and possess language skills and networks in different countries. All these can be great assets, especially for export companies. Having experience of living in different cultures can also bring fresh perspectives to companies.
Make yourself known!
Most of the students studied had difficulty naming companies from South Savo that they find interesting, which is worrisome. However, most students are actively looking for opportunities to interact with companies. This means that companies should also be active in making themselves known to students and engage in varied co-operation with higher education institutions. There are many ways to do this.
For example, you can reach out to students with job ads and available projects through the Xamk Duuni application. You can join career fairs and other events. You can come and present your company or have students visit your company. You can reach out to teachers of a degree and let them know that your company is interested in networking with students, and for example having students do projects in your business as part of a course. These are just a few options, you can find more opportunities here.
When it comes to making yourself known, it is also good to know that many international students use LinkedIn to find job opportunities. If you are not active on LinkedIn, you are missing out on opportunities for students to find you. Of course, they also use traditional job search websites, check out companies’ webpages and listen to their friends’ advice, amongst other means.
So, are you interested in getting to work with international students? Sign up to learn more about how to attract international talent. We have more content coming this summer!
The study was done within the Exporting expertise and know-how from South Savo project, which is funded by South Savo Regional Council from the European Regional Development Fund for the period 2019–2022.