In this first Workwide Recruit story, we would like to introduce you to our candidate and friend Miikka Kiiski (34) and his living abroad experience. Miikka is from Finland and started working in Lisbon (Portugal) as a Finnish-speaking Customer Service Agent in July 2020. As you can figure out, Miikka experienced an extra challenge: he moved abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our Workwide Recruit team guided him through the whole recruitment and moving abroad process and today Miikka is happy to share with us how his experience of working and living in Europe’s San Francisco has been so far!
Before Miikka moved to Lisbon, he worked in different fields. Namely, he had been working in the construction business, as a TV host, and as a DJ! One day Miikka was scrolling through different job boards and he stumbled on an online advertisement from Workwide Recruit regarding a job position in Lisbon for Finnish speakers. This immediately caught Miikka’s attention, as he was actively searching for a job abroad. He didn't wait anymore and clicked on the ad to find out more about Workwide Recruit and that job opportunity.
We were very curious about Miikka’s motivation for working and living abroad, and asked him what he wanted to achieve with this experience. Miikka: “I always wanted to live and work abroad. It has always been a dream for me and for my girlfriend and at that time I felt like it was the right time to actually do it. I did not want to wait any longer to chase this dream as I was afraid that I would not have the motivation anymore in 5 years from now.”
Miikka’s experience with Workwide Recruit
When Miikka landed on Workwide Recruit’s website, he discovered our platform for the first time: “My first impression of Workwide Recruit’s website was that I really liked the visuals and the clear and well organized information".
So that is how it all started for him. As soon as he saw the job ad where a company was looking for a Finnish speaking Customer Service Agent, he did not hesitate any longer and applied for the job position. Miikka: “When I was working in the construction business in Finland, I was actually working as a salesman. I also came in touch with the customer service role at some point and that is when I discovered that I really enjoy to speak with people, and that it suits me very well. That is the main reason why I applied for it.”
When Miikka applied for this job position abroad there were, of course, some thoughts that started running through his mind. Definitely, moving abroad is a big step that involves some arranging. Miikka: “I think my main thought was that I had never been in Portugal before. Moreover, some basic and important questions like “how to get an apartment in Lisbon?”, “how to open a bank account?” and “how is healthcare arranged in Portugal?” crossed my mind. However, it eased my mind that it is a European country, which is not too different from what I am used to.”
Miikka’s job interview process
Indeed, Miikka’s CV caught also our team’s attention, and invited him for a talk. Miikka: “I did not know that I was immediately going to be interviewed in English, but I actually thought this was a really good thing because I got prepared for the interviews with the future employer this way. After the first job interview, Workwide Recruit took really good care of me by sending me emails and text messages to make sure that I knew what I could expect for the next job interview with the employer. All in all, I had a really good experience and I felt really good and relaxed throughout the whole process. Fiddelie, my contact person at Workwide Recruit, was really calm and even though I thought I was a bit shy during our talks, she always made me feel comfortable.”
Miikka also mentioned his satisfaction with all the information he received from us throughout the whole process. Miikka: “The information that I received before and after every call was really clear and useful. I also really appreciated that I did not have to wait long for my next job interview. For example, the second call already happened two days after the first call. Even when the interviews with Workwide Recruit were over and I was having the interviews with the employer, Workwide Recruit always ensured that I received all the support I needed.”
Therefore, after all these nice words, we were wondering if he would recommend our services to people that want to move and work abroad! Miikka: “I can definitely recommend everyone that wants to work abroad to do this through Workwide Recruit as I am really satisfied with the way the team guided me through the entire process. Moreover, I am really happy with everything that I have achieved ever since I started my experience and Workwide Recruit helped to get this whole adventure started.”
Miikka’s working experience in Lisbon
Miikka’s experience in Lisbon is his very first working and living abroad experience. We were wondering how he is currently living this new adventure, especially now during pandemic times. Miikka: “Working at a call center is a new challenge for me and the fact that I am also doing this abroad makes it even more exciting. Furthermore, I am really satisfied with my employer as they are taking really good care of me and all my colleagues. For example, they paid formy airplane ticket and when I arrived in Lisbon they even picked me up from the airport. Since I started during the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to do a Corona test first and they guided me through this as well. Afterward, they brought me to my new apartment, owned by the company. I am now renting a house with my girlfriend here so we are already completely settled down in Lisbon.”
Secondly, Miikka started with an onboarding and training process right after he was hired. Miikka: “Since I started with my onboarding process in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a bit different. I had to stay in quarantine for the first 14 days, which meant that I also had to start my training from home. However, I think my employer handled this really well, as they made sure I had a computer at home and all the equipment that I needed. Therefore, my onboarding process was online with 25 more colleagues in one virtual meeting room, which I thought went quite well!”
After the quarantine period, Miikka was able, finally, to work from the office. He also explained to us what a day as a Finnish speaking Customer Service Agent is like. Miikka: “Sometimes I start my day at 6 a.m. and sometimes at 7 a.m., This can be different depending on the week and how busy I am. Moreover, I work for both the English and Finnish market and I really like this as this gives me the opportunity to improve my English considerably. This is also why I think it is so exciting to work in an international environment. At the moment, there is only another Finnish speaking girl in my team, which forces me to talk English with the other colleagues all day. I am learning a lot about other cultures and languages.”
Another factor that Miikka pointed out about international companies is the fact that you get to work with big, worldwide customers like Google. Miikka: “We also get the possibility to change projects after a while, which is nice if you do not really enjoy the one you are currently working with, or if you get just tired."
There is no doubt Miikka is really enjoying his job as a Customer Service Agent! Miikka: “It feels pretty good to help a customer that lives on the other side of the continent, you really notice whenever a customer is happy with the way you deal with his or her inquiries. After every call, we have a little survey which the customer can fill in in order to give us some feedback. This is very valuable as well as it helps us to improve our job.”
Obviously, we were also wondering what kind of challenges Miikka faced and is currently facing during his working and living abroad experience. Miikka: “My main challenge was actually to leave Finland because you have to arrange many things before you move abroad. For example, you have to get rid of your apartment, terminate all your subscriptions, etc... I think this was the most challenging thing for me. Ever since I arrived in Lisbon everything is going quite smoothly for me and my girlfriend. Of course, there are some cultural differences that I have to get used to. For example, in Finland everyone is always on time, but in Portugal, they care less about punctuality.”
Living in Lisbon
Some of the reasons why Miikka chose to work and live in Portugal include the weather and that it is located in Europe, close to his home country. Miikka: “I like that it is kind of close to Finland and that I can just visit and see my family when I am on vacation. I couldn't move to New Zealand, for example, because it is just so far away. In addition, Lisbon is such a beautiful city. I really love the people here, they are very understanding and friendly. The Portuguese culture is very fascinating and the history is really important in Lisbon, which is ideal for me as I have been always interested in history as well.”
In his spare time, Miikka loves surfing and swimming in the sea, walking around the city center and going to golf courses. And Lisbon is the perfect place to do so!
As mentioned previously, Miikka moved to Lisbon during the COVID-19 pandemic, a very special and unforeseen era. We asked Miikka how living abroad has been for him during this special time. Miikka: “The main difference from living in Finland is that we have to wear a facemask whenever we enter buildings or use the public transport. We have to wear it in the office as well.”
Miikka’s tips and tricks
As said, Miikka’s experience abroad has taught him a lot of valuable lessons and he also wanted to share some useful tips and tricks with us. Miikka: “One thing I would have done differently is learning some important sentences and words in Portuguese before moving here. Important words like “thank you” and “good morning” are very useful to know, because it shows respect to local people, that you really like to live here. If you do this, you will feel more connected to the local people."
Additionally, Miikka advises everyone to do enough research on the country and city before moving. Miikka: “Make sure you know a bit about the culture, the language, and how to find an apartment in that specific city beforehand.”
Living abroad has definitely made Miikka grow as a person. Miikka: “Being in a new environment, with a new culture and a new language, really encourages you to learn new things and meet new people, which makes you grow as a person in the end. For example, I have already learned how to be more patient.”
Miikka also has some tips and tricks when it comes to homesickness. Miikka: “Whenever I get a bit homesick I always call my friends and family. Make your family and friends plan to visit you or plan to visit them in your home country as soon as you can!
Miikka is still working and living in Lisbon as a Customer Service Agent and he would love to answer any questions you might have about his adventure and experience or about working and living abroad in general. We encourage you to contact him!