Faces of Dörren: Saana Kallioinen

When Saana Kallioinen registered as a Door Opener she was eager to meet new people and to help others in a way she would have needed when moving to Finland twelve years ago. Today she has a good foothold in the Finnish labour market and wants to share local perspectives and tips with  others in her field of work.

Saana grew up in Australia but also having Finnish roots, she visited the country a couple of times during her childhood. In 2009, a backpacking trip brought her back to Helsinki for a visit that became longer than first expected. She found her first job as an English-speaking nanny and soon also started studying at the University of Helsinki.

However, integration into Finnish working life was challenging at times and Saana had some bad experiences along the way. To her, the local perspectives would have been valuable.

There are so many things that you are supposed to know and that you don’t know if you are not born here. I would have loved to have a mentor in 2009. I searched a lot for information on the internet but did not find anything like this back then. Now I want to take part and use my experiences to help others.

Today Saana is a marketing and communications professional and entrepreneur with many irons in the fire. Through her company she offers a range of marketing, communications, translation, and consultancy services. At the same time, she also works part-time  for the Finnish-British Society (Finnbrit) and has her hands involved in several voluntary work projects – many of which are focused on helping international job seekers in Finland. 

Since registering in Dörren, Saana has experienced four Dörren meetings. All of these meetings were held digitally, which made it easy to participate despite working full-time. While getting to know each other, the main focus in the discussions was on the international professionals’ interests and needs – what they have tried and what they have not tried yet. 

I really enjoy hearing about the personal experiences of people with other cultural and professional backgrounds. Why somebody has moved here, what makes them tick, and what they are seeking. I know how hard it is to be a non-native speaker of Finnish. If I know somebody who could benefit from knowing somebody else I introduce them.

Saana points out that it is good to remain open-minded as a Door Opener and think of different sorts of tips and insights you can give to the international professional that might help them going forward – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge amount of different contacts. In her Dörren meetings, Saana has tried to push the people she met outside their comfort zone to try something different and give ideas of what the person could try in Finland. 

All of the Dörren meetings I have had have been really positive and I have also been able to offer some kind of concrete opportunities. If you don’t have time for a longtime connection a Dörren meeting is short and sweet. During an hour you have time to discuss quite a lot of things in detail and there is always the option to continue if you want to. It is a good alternative to a longer-term program.