Direction for the career from SIMHE guidance – A journalist and an administrative worker gained new ideas from career guidance

Experiences Higher education Internationalisation Working life cooperation
SIMHE guidance helps highly educated immigrants in Finland to integrate into society. This often happens through training and employment, like in the case of Anna Jarovaja and Elodie Magnier.

A good instructor can change the direction of a person’s career when this is needed. This is what happened to Anna Jarovaja and Elodie Magnier when they found the SIMHE services.

Anna Jarovaja worked as a journalist in Russia for 15 years and did not want to completely change careers after having arrived in Finland.

“I don't think I will be able to write articles in Finnish because the language is complicated and you have to really know the language to be able to use it for journalism,” she says.

She studied Finnish on an online course but was not able to use the language very much because of the pandemic. After the language courses, she was admitted to the KAVA training at Karelia University of Applied Sciences. KAVA is preparatory training for highly educated immigrants. In connection with the training, she also received career guidance from the SIMHE instructor.

“When I was completing a traineeship, I had asked my supervisor where he had studied, but it was the only thing I knew about studying the field in Finland,” Jarovaja says.

Karelia University of Applied Sciences has a separate pathway to degree studies for immigrants who already have a higher education degree. Persons with a higher education degree who have completed the preparatory training of 30 ECTS can apply for degree studies in a separate application process.

“Every year, there are just over twenty such places to be applied for in different degree programmes,” says Head of Education Ulla Asikainen from Karelia University of Applied Sciences. The forthcoming separate application process is already the fourth one and Karelia will organise it in spring 2024. 

Thanks to the SIMHE guidance, Jarovaja ended up on the same course as that supervisor: she applied for a study place in the separate application process and is now studying for a bachelor’s degree in culture and arts. The work of a journalist that writes is not the only job in the media sector, and Jarovaja now aims at something else.

Anna Jarovaja.
Anna Jarojava

Clarifying one's own thoughts

Elodie Magnier in turn applied to the SIMHE training at Arcada University of Applied Sciences when she was unemployed. She had already worked as an administrative assistant in a Finnish private school, but when the job ended, she wanted career guidance.

“I was totally lost with what I wanted to do,” she recalls. “My emotions kept changing and I felt useless.”

She wanted the training to give her a direction and clarity. During the training, they went through and verbalised her strengths and abilities, interests and also compromises that she would be prepared to do if she could not find her dream job straight away.

“The instructor modified the ideas that I already had to a more structured form and help me to come to my conclusion,” Magnier summarises.

In the training, they went through networking, drawing up a CV and applications, and so on. The process worked as Magnier found work at the end of the training and has now started as an administrative assistant in another school.

“I counted that before the training, I had to send about 10 applications to receive an invitation to an interview. After the training, every third application led to an invitation,” Magnier says. “During the year that I was unemployed, the SIMHE instructor was the best thing that happened to me. After the sessions, I was always relieved and more confident.”

Henkilökuva Elodie Magnierista.
Elodie Magnier


Major significance for Finland and to those who have moved to Finland

Ulla Asikainen from Karelia University of Applied Sciences finds it very important to have those highly educated people who have already moved to Finland in training and then in employment.

“This is a really great potential in many regions.”

She hopes that the planned saving measures in education will not complicate matters and that they could hold on to these services.

“I hope and believe that these activities will be considered important for employment and the individual's future.”

According to Asikainen, highly educated immigrants are often very motivated to stay in the region and work. 

“Often, they are also already quite well integrated and we support it even more with what we do.”

Of course, the services are also important to the students themselves. Asikainen herself meets the students at least at the beginning and end of the training, and the general atmosphere is often full of joy and happiness. 

“They see this as an important opportunity and one pathway to the Finnish working life and society.”

She reminds that these people are not only workforce for Finland, but that they have to be accepted fully as part of society.

“Preparatory training and language training are one tool for it.”

“It would be good if immigrants knew SIMHE better”

Elodie Magnier says she found SIMHE herself almost by accident in a Facebook post. 

“I don't think these services are talked about enough. Now that I have seen how the guidance helped me, I know that it could also help so many others.”

Fortunately, there is a great deal of information about SIMHE in English, which she is thankful for.

“Foreigners in Finland often do not know what services are available and what they are entitled to apply for. Accessibility is a problem as it takes time to learn Finnish.”

According to Asikainen, communicating about the services is “an eternal problem”.

“In all the media and forums that we are visible in.”

Karelia University of Applied Sciences, which operates in Joensuu, is active locally in many different forums and those who are studying in the region and active immigrants will find out about its services.

Joensuu has decided to provide preparatory training as contact instruction, whereas some of the other higher education institutions provide online courses. They are also typically active in the social media channels of different fields, aiming to reach highly educated people of different fields.

“Finland provides opportunities well”

Anna Jarovaja says that Finland is a very welcoming country to immigrants.

“There are a lot of scholarships and courses.”

According to her, if a person who has moved here wants to be part of society, a lot of opportunities are still provided for it and an active person will find them. She hopes that Finland will provide language courses and guidance also in the future.

“The Finnish language is a catastrophically difficult one to learn,” she says and laughs.

“The courses really help you to feel that you mean something to this country and society, and are not just a pawn.”


Text: Esa Salminen