Feeling Welcome Over 5000 Miles From Home Feeling Welcome Over 5000 Miles From Home

By Silvia Rubio

03.12.2018

How did a small town girl from Venezuela end up developing software in Tampere, Finland, along with people representing 15 different nationalities? Here’s my story!

Good education + beautiful nature = win!

After completing my bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering in my home country, I wanted to get my master’s degree outside Venezuela. Having studied in England as a teen, I really had a soft spot for Europe and its nature. Spain, for example, seemed like a safe choice, but I wanted to take a deeper dive into a completely different culture!

So, Finland it was. For me, the free world-class education was a big thing and the Software Development program at the University of Tampere sounded like a great fit.

Now, after living here for five years, I feel right at home and I love Tampere. The city size is perfect and Tampere does not actually feel like the third largest city in Finland. Commute times are short, there are so many winter and summer activities - living in Finland has truly taught me to love nature!

Instant international community - no Finnish required!

During my studies, I worked at the university for a few years but I wanted to join a software company and work on full-scale projects to further develop my skills. However, to my surprise, I found that only a few companies welcome and embrace international, non-Finnish speakers as employees, even for software developer roles.

From the get-go, Intopalo felt like a very inviting company for me as a foreigner in Tampere. As I already knew someone working at Intopalo, applying was a no-brainer.

Today, I work with talented people from 15 different countries, including Spain, Portugal, China, Canada, Russia, Germany, Iran, the Czech Republic - and of course Finland. There’s practically no language barrier. In fact, I find it quite difficult to practice my Finnish, as most Finns always switch to using English with me!

Developing the world in meaningful projects

To me, the best part about coding is that magical feeling and sense of accomplishment when you finally get things to work the way you want, especially after having suffered trying to solve a certain problem.

Intopalo does a pretty good job easing the suffering part: for newcomers, there’s a buddy system and always a colleague willing to help you out. I still feel there’s much for me to learn, and Intopalo is a great place for that.

So far, I have worked on futuristic, automated farming robots that might some day help solve the world’s food production problem. I would love to tell you about my current work, but it’s super secret - suffice to say, it is something quite futuristic with an important real-life impact.

Contributing to an important goal is something I care about. Even if I’m only a small part of the whole, I like to feel that my work helps make the world a better place.

My three tips for getting started in Tampere

  1. If you are a student, your school provides excellent support. Also, check out TOAS for good, affordable housing to get you started.
  2. If you want to build your career in Tampere, check out the Talent Tampere website for practicalities about working here.
  3. Check out Tori.fi for affordable second-hand treasures like furniture and other quality goods! Finns love to recycle and are super honest when conducting business.