A network for international professionals has launched in Jyväskylä – and it welcomes you!
May 07, 2021
A local chapter of the International Working Women of Finland (IWWOF) network, focused on supporting international talented people, has launched in Jyväskylä. Anyone interested is welcome to join regardless of gender or nationality.
IWWOF is an organization founded about two years ago. It connects about 6000 people in Finland through social media and six local chapters (Helsinki, Turku, Hämeenlinna, Tampere, Lappeenranta, and Jyväskylä). The network works to support talented people with a foreign background on their journeys in Finland to and make it easier for businesses to hire international talent.
– Even though the core activities of the network are focused on women, in Jyväskylä we welcome everyone interested in international matters, foreigners and Finns, regardless of gender, says Halla Hänninen, coordinator of the new Jyväskylä chapter.
Creating change together
Hänninen herself has extensive experience working with multicultural teams. She says there is a tendency in Finland to fail to spot the challenges encountered by international talent here – or the opportunities diversity offers to every organization.
– Foreigners living in Finland still have trouble finding a job here, or even getting an interview, even if they are highly motivated top talent in their fields. On the other hand, businesses may not be aware of the obstacles they put in the path of their recruitment and are currently not receiving adequate support to manage and develop diversity, says Hänninen.
– There are quite a few things we can challenge together and have an impact on together – be they attitudes, awareness, or the structures themselves, she says.
Rather than “help”, Hänninen would like to offer cooperation and work together.
– It is our goal to involve all of the groups we target in a common dialogue to change things for the better for all sides, she says.
– We would also like to be part of how the city develops its own international activities.
Halla Hänninen, who has spent years living in Ireland and Germany, is a returnee to Jyväskylä. – I planned to come back for the summer and then continue on to North America, but then I fell in love and had to stay, she laughs. At the moment, she is working for the Finnish-Kenyan IT company Codeshares, which has a strong emphasis on responsibility and green values. Among other things, the company plants a tree for every hour of coding done.
Join the work of IWWOF
IWWOF is founded on volunteer work. Apart from Hänninen, the practical activities of the organisation in Jyväskylä are coordinated by Tina Pienkuukka and Janita Kingelin. A kickoff event in April brainstormed ideas for local activities for the network with a few dozen participants.
– We got quite a few suggestions. For instance, people hoped to build a community through a cooking club, a common garden patch, trips to the nature, or a movie night. Ideas for personal development included speaking training, working on Finnish skills together, looking into educational opportunities, and naturally mentoring and job search related support, says Hänninen.
The next meeting will take place as May turns into June. Hänninen wants to encourage everyone with an international mind and an interest in networking to join.
– To start off, we have a WhatsApp group to coordinate communications. To join or to get more information, you should e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, says Hänninen.