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Lapland was so intriguing place that I decided to come here to study

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Wonder how I ended up in Finland? And why am I still working here? In my latest job interview, the interviewer asked me the same question why I came to Finland. My answer was ‘‘I never came to Finland, I came to Lapland.’’

I am Imran. Born and raised in Pakistan. I graduated from Lapland UAS in 2015 and I am currently working in Clarion Hotel Helsinki as a night audit agent. 

When I applied for Lapland UAS, I had already graduated from Commerce with a specialization in Accounting but at the same time, I wanted to travel abroad for further studies. I started to look for different study options in Finland because I had some friends who recommended me to study in Finland. I have always been mesmerized by the midnight sun and northern lights phenomena and always wanted to observe them. As soon as I knew that Finnish Lapland has the midnight sun and northern lights (keeping in mind I was not good at geography :D) I decided this is the place where I wanna be!

Lapland UAS has a very balanced study structure between theory and practical training. We had lots of on-the-field assignments, for example visiting tourist attractions and safari companies. This helped me a lot to learn about the local and international culture. It was an extensive and deep learning experience from contact lessons to group work and study tours. The teachers really own you here. I remember, my teacher tutor Ulla even helped me to find a job during my early days in Finland.

If you are planning to study in the tourism and hospitality field, I highly recommend Lapland UAS because here you have great opportunities to learn about tourism in a real environment. Rovaniemi is a small town that means easy to move around. I call it my Finnish hometown.

After graduation, I started looking for a job because I really wanted to stay here in this beautiful country. It was not easy to find a job without proper skills of Finnish. I was motivated to start my career as a hospitality professional, so I decided to go to full time language school and after spending there only 6 months I heard of a Norwegian hotel chain entering into the Finnish market. The next thought I had was ‘‘a job at a hotel in Finland means you need to have fluent Finnish skills’’. I had doubts and fears while I was writing the application for this job. But at the same time, I had passion and courage to tell the world that nothing is impossible if you have these two qualities.

I would also like to share my journey to this job. The company launched a big recruitment campaign in Helsinki. The first audition was to sell yourself to the employer within 2 minutes. Guess what? I did it! I made my way to the second round. Then after a week, we had a few online tests where I succeeded as well. This was the moment when I said to myself that I am gonna get this job. Then there was a 3rd round and after this final interview, I was selected to be part of the team.

My advice for new students is that have dreams in your life, work hard for them, never lose hope and live your passions, success will follow you! Cheers!

Imran Safdar, DPT-graduated

Educating Oneself for Future’s Career in Tourism

I met a lot of wonderful people from all around the world and made new friends. I always had the feeling of being a part of the community, part of the team: both in and out of the university.

I graduated from the Degree Programme in Tourism at Lapland University of Applied Sciences (Lapland UAS) in 2015, and I am now doing my Master’s Degree at the University of Lapland. Being from St. Petersburg in Russia, I have been living in Finnish Lapland for almost 6 years. And frankly speaking, the more I live here in Rovaniemi - the more I get attached to this place and the more I like it.

Time for the Big Decision: Future’s Career Plans

However, first things first. I was 16 when I was finishing the last year in the gymnasium in St. Petersburg and it was time for the big decision: what to study and where to apply. The tourism industry had somehow fascinated me and I chose it as my subject. I knew I wanted to study abroad in an intercultural environment and Finland seemed like the perfect place for that. I found that in Rovaniemi there was a good tourism institution offering studies in English. I looked at the map and, without knowing much about Lapland, I thought that it could be a great place to study. I took the entrance exam in St. Petersburg. I was fortunate to get to Lapland UAS (RAMK back then), the Degree Programme in Tourism. And then the next page of my life began.

Continuing Studies and Falling in Love with Lapland

To say that my life has changed since I left my home in Russia is to say nothing. Every time you get into a new environment, culture and society you change. Many things have changed from my viewpoint. The education system with a balanced combination of theory and practice is one. In addition to this, many real projects and field trips appeared new to me, but I immediately loved it all. In every class we learned not only from books, but also from each other - and group work supported that. All in all, during the degree not only I gained a lot in terms of knowledge and being prepared for working life, I also enjoyed my learning journey.

I met a lot of wonderful people from all around the world and made new friends. I always had the feeling of being a part of the community, part of the team: both in and out of the university. And these local people, who may first seem cold from outside, but in the end they are so kind and friendly once you get to know them. It was not a problem to find a seasonal job here either - of course in the tourism field. That way you can implement your knowledge in practice as well as learn from work.

I also have to mention the fascinating nature of Lapland and the way it is culturally treated. I think I will never stop getting amazed by the beauty of the North.

Now I am continuing my Tourism studies with MTI at the University of Lapland and I am happy to be here. My bachelor degree from Lapland UAS gave me a great knowledge base for further studies, so now I can focus more on sociological and ethical aspects of tourism.

Experiencing a Broad Range of Tasks in Tourism Field

During my studies in Lapland, I have had a chance to try my skills in various tourism fields and see the industry from the practical side as well. Thanks to traineeships, I have experienced working in restaurants, an amusement park and a travel agency - with tasks covering both customer service and managerial/development aspects. Now, I keep on working in a nature-based safari company, a local destination management company.

Lapland is a truly magical place! Once you get here, your life won’t remain the same.

Mikhail Sinitsyn, DPT-graduated

The DPT Graduate, Veli-Matti Hettula Career Story

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Now here is a story for you guys who are pondering whether to apply to DPT (Degree Programme in Tourism) or where to head after graduation.

My background to start with is far from a usual one; I was working as a prison officer in Helsinki when I saw an advert of a Tourism programme where tuition was completely in English, but in Rovaniemi where I was born. Wow! Having lived in England for a while I got interested, applied and in the end got accepted. Then came the decision making process at home where my wife and two daughters came seriously into play. In the end we decided to pack our gear and return to Lapland as both of us have roots in Kittilä.

School started and my motivation was sky high! My wife took care of the children at home and I went to school every day thinking; "I must be effective with my studies as she is working hard at home so that I can study at peace!" Exams and essays followed one another and the group of students started to grow together. The first training during December came quickly and I wanted to split it in two in order to create an opinion of what I would like to do. First I went to a local hotel for a few weeks and liked it. The second place was an assistant guide with the UK charters at Korvala. I was a bit unsure of the whole thing with the Elf costumes and all, but I decided to give it a go with a company called Emagine Travel UK Ltd. It was a decision that I didn't have to regret!

The next Christmas I had a larger role and I also expanded the guiding experience to Saariselkä over New Year. Then came the last year of my studies and I was asked whether I would like to work year round for the company after graduation! Soon the school was out and new challenges were waiting ahead. Building my knowledge upon the issues learned at school had started. After a lot of clients and programme services in various locations in Lapland, I wanted to try the programme service sector more in depth with Lapland Safaris in Levi. Selling the services became more familiar and so did the comprehension of distribution channels of tourism in general. New groups from different countries and cultures broadened my knowledge further and I was lucky to work with a few of the very top of their business in and outside of tourism branch.

Developing something new has always fascinated me and so the next step was my current position as a Project Manager with the Kittilä municipality and Kideve, Kittilä Development. The first project combined culture and tourism into better conversation and understanding one another. I had to challenge myself to new branches and issues where I had not been thinking to work while studying tourism at the university of applied sciences. After the first one, new projects have come along where culture tourism, events, villages of Kittilä, tourism education and many other issues related to tourism have been the subject of development.

The growing understanding of the scale of tourism sector has broadened my view and also raised the hunger for further knowledge of tourism. Therefore I started studying alongside work in the Master of Hospitality Management programme at RAMK (now Lapland UAS). It was the right choice for my personal growth as in addition to the tuition itself I got the chance to challenge other colleagues and tourism teachers with conversations related in and outside the branch.

Now after about 10 years of tourism experience from different positions I still feel that I have the passion to develop and challenge myself for future challenges that are ahead. What they are remains to be seen.

In the end here is my advice to you who are currently studying and soon entering the tourism branch:

1) Go abroad at an early stage of your career. It will extend your personal view and you will learn more from yourself.
2) Ask questions and challenge yourself and others from time to time. You will learn more from the branch and the scope of it.
3) Future employees need to look at branches outside their own and understand how to modify the signals back to their own branch.
4) Be proactive, not reactive and you can be a future professional!

- Veli-Matti Hettula, Alumni / DPT graduate -

Kuvaaja, Vesa Rönty