“If you want to work in Oulu, believe in yourself and push hard”

Man at Hailuoto ferry

Viktors Sobolevs came to Oulu from Latvia, and studied at Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Now, he works as a business product manager at Polar.

Who

My name is Viktors Sobolevs, 28, and I was born in Riga, Latvia. At the age of 16, I moved to Finland to study at Sotkamo IB High School.

Why

I chose to attend Degree Programme in International Business at Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oamk) over the University of Oulu because Oamk prioritises practical skills.

In 2014, my girlfriend and I moved from Sotkamo to Oulu to study at Oamk. She was accepted to the health care campus, while I got accepted to the business campus to study international business. We wanted to move to a city that was relatively compact and had all the essentials; hence, Oulu was the first choice for us.

While studying at Oamk, I gave many presentations with my classmates. This undoubtedly helped me to develop the ability to collect my thoughts and findings into a short and presentable form. At my current workplace, Polar, I give many presentations to different stakeholders.

I took a few beginner Finnish courses in Sotkamo, and several more at Oamk. To be fair, despite passing all my courses with good grades, I didn’t progress much in learning and understanding Finnish; this was partly my fault, as I didn’t have a strong motivation to learn the language at that point.

My most significant progress while learning Finnish happened when I started listening and interacting with my colleagues during morning coffee and lunch breaks. Despite English being our company language, the majority of people who speak the same mother tongue switch to it whenever they have a chance.

What

Oulu is a compact city where you can find almost everything you need in daily life. My girlfriend’s and my campuses were located one kilometre away from our dormitory in Välkkylä student village, which was very convenient.

The most shocking thing I discovered about Oulu was that people cycle in it all year, even when it’s -15 degrees or colder outside. The cycling infrastructure in Oulu is excellent; you can easily get from one side of the city to another by bike at any time of the year.

I’m very much into sports – currently, triathlon. I also like aviation and travelling. When I lived in Oulu, I played at Oulun Reipas as part of a football team that competed in the local fourth division.

Regarding Finland in general, I appreciate the honesty displayed by most Finnish people. I also want to highlight the country’s clean tap water; this was new to me when I moved from Latvia.

Where

While studying in Oulu, I worked at SOL as a cleaner. Polar Electro, the place where I did my study-related practical training, was one of SOL’s clients, and I washed the windows at Polar’s HQ a few times while dreaming about getting a job there.

After finishing my practical training, I was offered a permanent position at Polar. My current job title is business product manager. In this position, I’m responsible for Polar’s high-end sports and outdoor watches.

In my position, I work with the Research & Development, Marketing, Sales, Customer Care and many other teams, and I’m involved in product concepting from Day 1 all the way to the ramp-down at the end of the product’s lifecycle.

This position is new to me, as I just moved to the Business Product Management team a few months ago. Previously, I led Polar’s global social media team, as well as worked in various other marketing-specific positions.

Currently, my girlfriend and I live in Espoo. We moved there in 2019 after both of us graduated.

How

My first job in Finland was delivering advertisements during my first year of high school. My first full-time job came through Polar after I finished my practical training.

If you are currently thinking about where to do your practical training, I strongly recommend choosing a place where you’d be interested in working much longer than your practical training’s duration.

If you really want to live and work in Oulu, believe in yourself, push hard and don’t forget about networking. Try to attend various work-related meet-ups organised by BusinessOulu.

Like student life, work life is a constant learning process. First and foremost, no one expects you to know everything. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and educate yourself using the internet and other information sources.

At Polar, my onboarding process was a positive experience, and all the colleagues with whom I’ve been working over the past six years have been cheerful and helpful.

I came to Polar as a foreign student without any work experience in marketing, so I had to prove to both the team and myself that I’m a valuable team member.

The abilities to quickly find information and listen to other opinions, even if they differ from my own, are skills that have helped me in my professional development.

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