Transcript of the podcast

Milla Sukki [00:00:15]: Hello, you are listening to TUURA podcast. Today is the 27th of October 2020 and we are interviewing study counselor Janne Hopeela. My name is Milla Sukki.

Leea Lepistö [00:00:29]: And my name is Leea Lepistö and we both study Musical Theater in TAMK. Welcome Janne and thank you so much for joining us today would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Janne Hopeela [00:00:41]: Thank you Milla and Leea, it's really nice to be here today talking about practical training stuff and so on. So, my name is Janne Hopeela and I'm working in TAMK business school with the English taught programs both in bachelor’s and master's level and especially working with the bachelor students in the International Business Program. My other fields I'm working in, I'm also an international coordinator and a practical training coach. So that's my main three areas of work at the moment.

Milla Sukki [00:01:31]: Yes, and once again welcome very much. Today we are discussing about internships and practical training. And first I would like to know how do we take professional goals or objectives best into account in practical training?

Janne Hopeela [00:01:48]: Well that that is one of the most important things certainly when we are thinking about practical training and the future plans of the students. So, it's quite in the center of our activities. So, how to take the professional goals into account? So, if I could start with explaining a little bit how we do things in TAMK International Business Program or how the program is structured. So, our students during the first year of studies will get a strong background in running a business. They understand all the most important things that are needed to run a successful business and they also get a taste of various fields where they could be working in business life. And during the first year we also have something called professional development as part of the studies so this this all means that already during the first year we are starting to prepare our business students professionally to think about their future goals and things like that. And then during the second year of studies in our International Business Program our students get to choose from different specializations they could be choosing for example marketing or accounting and finance or logistics or their studies could be related to human resource related matters or business  development projects. Eight different alternatives during the second year so that you can kind of test what kind of topic you would be focusing on in the area of marketing let's say. And then during the third year of your studies we encourage all our students to do their practical training after the second-year studies. So, you could look for a practical training place for example for the summer after the second year of studies or then during the third year of studies. So, in this way we kind of start coaching the students already during the first year to try and find their professional goals. So many of our students in the beginning of their studies they are not quite sure which kind of job they might want to have in the future but then during the first year, second year you know it's all preparation for the third year and practical training. A long explanation.

Leea Lepistö [00:05:01]: No that's good. We get a little feeling of what it is like each year. But next we'll talk about a little bit about the challenges, what do you think are the challenges that students face when searching for an internship and especially international students? Do they have more challenges in finding internships in Finland and how do you try to solve these challenges?

Janne Hopeela [00:05:28]: Right, so the practical training and internship is not a simple thing really. So, there are quite a lot of challenges certainly. So, one of the first things that might come up the sources of information is where do you find information about possible practical training places and things like that. So, that's one of the things and how we are trying to solve that is that during the professional development classes and during the second-year practical training information sessions. So, we are always providing our students with some sources of information where they could go and where to look for practical training places and information about them. Then of course there are for example job searching skills and how to promote your own skills, so this is also an area of challenge during the practical training or when you are preparing for a practical training. So, you need to practice your job searching skills and the skills to promote your own skills, what are you good at and things like that. Then I would still mention two more areas of problems. Networking skills. So, when you are arriving as the first-year student you probably don't have so many networks especially in a new country. So, if you have moved to Finland for your studies you probably don't have so many networks existing but when you get networked with your fellow students the second year students, the third year students, when you try to find their stories where did they go for the practical training, networking, talking to people around you. So that is a very important skill when you are looking for a job. And of course, you need to remember that all of us have relatives and friends who could be helping with looking for a job. And then of course when we are talking about Finland so many of the companies they might require you to have knowledge of the Finnish language, so I would like to mention the language skills also as one of very important features of practical training and internship when you're looking for one.

Milla Sukki [00:08:25]: Yeah, what about the time frame, is there a specific time frame for the internship?

Janne Hopeela [00:08:34]: Well I think that there might be variation in different programs in TAMK but in the International Business Program at TAMK we have really tried to make it quite flexible. Actually, our students could be doing part of the practical training already after the first year of studies you know during the summertime and then you could do your second part of practical training after the second year of studies during the summertime again. And in this way, you could even graduate a little bit faster if you want to. So, the answer is really for the International Business Program students at TAMK that you can choose the time when you do your practical training quite flexibly. We are mostly promoting after the second year of studies because then you already have quite a lot of skills. You know you have been you have already chosen your specialization in the studies things like that so it also supports you know finding a suitable practical training place when you have more knowledge about the area where you want to work.

Leea Lepistö [00:09:59]: What about if someone would want to do their practical training abroad, is this possible and is this possible for all students?

Janne Hopeela [00:10:08]: Oh yes, this is a very good area that you brought up for the discussion. So absolutely it is possible to do your practical training abroad. Of course, we need to remember that at the moment we have got the Coronavirus, Covid 19 situation which is a very challenging time but even in times like this some of our students have found really good places outside of Finland and they really wanted to do an agreement with the companies for a salary and things like that and they were ready to go abroad and do their traineeship. So yes, we absolutely we encourage everyone to do a practical training abroad but of course we need to consider all safety questions in times like this. And there is one good thing about practical training outside of Finland. So, it seems that quite a lot of companies in countries outside of Finland they tend to offer a practical training salary for the trainees maybe more easily than the companies in Finland. So, for example in Germany it seems that almost all the companies really have a trainee salary for the students which is a very important part of student income during the studies.

Milla Sukki [00:11:50]: Yeah that sounds great. What about the cooperation between university of applied sciences in the training company, what kind of cooperation would help international students to find internships in Finland?

Janne Hopeela [00:12:02]: Right, again there you have a very good question. So of course, this is always quite a long-term process trying to create contacts between Tampere University of Applied Sciences and the companies. So, it really is a long process so that you get the confidence between the two parties and so on. But you know we have been quite successful in this so that when the companies learn that we have got very good students you know with internationalization skills, who know about business and who have their own cultural background, the international students very often can help the local Finnish companies you know if they have internationalization projects going on. So, we are happy in the situation that Tampere is a little bit bigger city and some of the local companies really have found us and they really offer practical training positions for international students also in addition to naturally offering the places for the Finnish students. But it's good that more and more companies they now know that they can turn to TAMK recruitment services or the practical training coaches like myself to offer various places in their companies. But also, some recruitment services are really active in developing you know their services. So very soon we will have a new online service for the companies where they can submit their open positions for the traineeship or for a summer job or you know thesis projects and things like that. So, TAMK recruitment services is really supporting us at a time in doing this in the degree program. So, it's a very important cooperation also internally in TAMK. And of course you know it requires quite a lot of keeping in touch with the companies who already found us so that they come back to us and look for new trainees all the time so we are trying to for example to send thank you messages you know kind of you know thank you for offering a practical training place for our international students this is a very important part of their studies and so on. So, it's really important to keep in touch with the companies in various ways.

Leea Lepistö [00:15:23]: Yeah, I'm sure that when they have good experiences you have talented students going there doing their internships so that like you said builds the trust between the school and the company so they will offer more possibilities in the future, that sounds great. But what about how can you make sure that the intern is not so to say left alone during the internship?

Janne Hopeela [00:15:48]: Yes, here again a very good question. So of course, during the practical training it's a longer period of time. So, I would say that most of our students are staying in one company for the required five months of full-time work some of our students are even staying longer if they are doing you know a part-time job and so on. So, it's very important to keep in touch. But here I would also like to emphasize the student's own role that especially if the student is somehow feeling alone in the company during the traineeship, they can always contact their practical training coach at TAMK. But then I also would like to emphasize the fact that all the students who are taking a practical training place in a company they are also assigned a contact person, the closest contact person in the company. So absolutely the student is never alone and does never need to feel alone because they can contact the coach in the company especially if the matters, the questions are related to the work they are doing in the company or then if there are some other type of maybe difficulties the student can always contact their practical training coach at TAMK.

Leea Lepistö [00:17:38]: Yeah that's good. I think the practical training a part of is so big in the education so it's really good that they have tools that they can use and people they can contact if they are feeling alone. Especially international students when they move to Finland it could be more possible maybe than to someone who were living in Tampere already.

Janne Hopeela [00:18:05]: Oh, absolutely and you know it is very true that you are saying that some of our international students might be feeling left alone in the company. That is also in the sense that in the Finnish companies we very often tend to expect everybody to be very independent in their work and you know really to find lots of solutions and bring solutions as individuals and so on. But you know of course no one is left alone. But you know the mentality in the companies can be a little bit different.

Milla Sukki [00:18:57]: Yeah right what about in the situations, how do we act if there are insurmountable problems during the internship?

Janne Hopeela [00:19:06]: Right yes, it's true that unfortunately there are sometimes problems, various kinds of problems during the practical training. For example some of the students could feel that the tasks that they are doing in the company are not you know challenging enough they maybe don't feel that they are learning enough in the company even if we have made an agreement with the company about the tasks and things like that so unfortunately there are sometimes situations like this. Not very often I'm happy to say, not really very often but we need to be prepared for this kind of situations as well. So of course, even these kinds of problems they are also part of the learning process I would say so that the student should be quite independent in trying to find a solution in the company. You know very actively asking for more demanding tasks and to ask for a little bit of help for example if the tasks seem to be too difficult for example. So the first instance is always the contact person in the company to discuss with them in the company directly and then if that doesn't maybe help in the situation and then the students can always contact us at TAMK you know the practical training coaches. But you know of course there have been some challenging cases and sometimes a student is maybe contacting me and saying that I really would like to you know finish this practical training next week and I can't stay here longer because of this and that. But then we also need to remember that this is also practicing about making contracts, making agreements so if you have signed an agreement with the company about a three-month practical training, so this is really an agreement that we need to respect. But of course we can cancel a practical training position if you know after discussions with the company we find that there have been some kind of wrong type of estimations about the difficulty level of the tasks or you know the learning and so on. So, if we can do it together the student the contact persons in the company and me as the practical training coach so then we could cancel the agreement, but it always requires the three parties to discuss it.

Leea Lepistö [00:22:31]: Yeah and first of course you know trying to solve the problems. That's very good and that's also practicing for work life you know there are challenges in working environments after the school so it's very good that they get some experience in that as well even though you know I hope they don't have any big challenges. What about after the practical training how do you support the student? Do you have some sort of feedback discussions and career guidance after the internship?

Janne Hopeela [00:23:04]: Right yes, absolutely. So, this is a very important part of the practical training process. So already you know when students are going for their practical training I very often try to emphasize the fact that you know all the students need to write a report about their experiences during the practical training, to make a few notes every week about the learning during each week and so on. So, I try to emphasize that the reporting is for the benefits of the student not reporting for TAMK. So it's a very important thing to understand about the practical training that it's all learning for oneself and so the benefits are all for the for the students. So of course everybody maybe thinks that writing a practical training report is a boring thing but I really try to emphasize that you know if every week you get a habit for example on Friday that you write a few notes about the week the past week. And if you think about you know which kind of which were the most challenging situations during the week, which kind of tasks did you like during the week, which kind of tasks are not so interesting for you and why. And if you really make notes about things like this for the five months period you're doing your practical training and then write a report about your experience so you really do have a possibility to learn about yourself to maybe make decisions about your future you know, okay I'm now testing this kind of different types of tasks in the area of marketing and I noticed that they are not really for me, I’d maybe like to work better with numbers and financial management related stuff and so on. So, you can really learn quite a lot about yourself during the practical training. So, when you're writing this kind of a report during your training and then afterwards, we have a discussion about it, quite many times when I read the report I can find some things and in our discussion I take it up and the students might learn something about themselves and that is my wish.

Leea Lepistö [00:26:21]: I think if the student that's doing the practical training gets the habit of writing something down every week I think that will also help a lot with the final report because if the practical training is like three or five months or something like that it could be maybe hard to remember what was it like when I started here and what has it developed into. That's a very good idea.

Janne Hopeela [00:26:46]: That's exactly the point you know. We can make the learning more active and more reflective so when after the five months you go back to your notes you can really remember how it was when you started and how much you have learned during the time when you make those notes.

Milla Sukki [00:27:08]: What about how can we develop practical training with the training place or company? How can we achieve long-term cooperation?

Janne Hopeela [00:27:21]: Well I think we kind of partly already talked about this that it is very often quite exactly building the trust and it is a long-term thing and you know promoting TAMK as a place where the companies can really find very good people for their future needs in the company and so on. So, it's a big thing and a long-term process but you know we're doing this together with some recruitment services and the degree programs together trying to approach the companies. And we are hoping all the time that more and more companies contact us, and it could become a nice long-term relationship with those companies

Leea Lepistö [00:28:13]: Yeah, and maybe for the future after the trainees and when the students graduate, they could maybe find long-term working places from there, so I think that's very good that you have those sorts of contacts.

Janne Hopeela [00:28:26]: Absolutely, yeah.

Leea Lepistö [00:28:33]: Do you have anything in mind that you would like to mention about this topic?

Janne Hopeela [00:28:42]: Well a lot I would say. But you know definitely this practical training internship, it's one of the most important parts of the degree. It is 30 credit points one semester quite a long part of the degree. So, I think the practical training very often has a link with your future plans. So whether it proves that your expectations have been correct and that you are on the right track but then also sometimes it happens that when I have the discussion afterwards I hear the students saying that this actually is not my thing and now I know it for sure that I need to find a new kind of a path and it can be very important for the students future plans. And then also I think practical training is also linked with one's dreams, what are the dreams that you have for the future. Very happily I can say that also there are lots of students who I hear them planning things already during the first year then something happens during the second year and you know when I see them when they are ready to graduate so I can see that many of the plans and dreams they can come true during the studies as well.

Leea Lepistö [00:30:34]: That's great! Thank you so much Janne for joining us today and we would like to thank also everyone who's tuning in and listening to our podcast. And yeah, we wish all of you a happy day and thank you so much for listening. Thank you Janne.

Janne Hopeela [00:30:51]: And thank you thanks Milla and Leea. It was nice to be here today.

Leea Lepistö [00:31:56]: Yeah, bye bye!

Milla Sukki [00:31:58]: Bye!

Janne Hopeela [00:31:59]: Bye!

Viimeksi muutettu: tiistai, 24. marraskuuta 2020, 10:00