An interest in international business and passion for the outdoors
Flashback to my last year of college back home. My European Business Professor at the University of Scranton suggested that I apply for a Fulbright Scholarship given my academic interest in international business and passion for the outdoors. As a person always in search of my next challenge, I fully embraced the possibility to study abroad and increase the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. However, the million dollar question remained – which country?
For me, I naturally gravitated towards the Nordic countries, having visited Sweden before to stay with a friend’s childhood Au Pair who happened to be Finnish-Swede. Only then did I begin to hear about the relatively small, but mighty Finland, its sisu spirit, and modest people. Some might call it fate, others an aha moment, but the next time I opened the Fulbright Website is when I noticed the Fulbright-LUT Graduate Award staring me in the face. After the next click, I never looked back. Simply, I went all in. Placing a risky bet, I did not apply to other graduate schools or even jobs, as the more I learned about Finland the more I spoke my newfound dream into existence.
Perfect match for the Finnish climate and culture
It seemed that my lifestyle and intended career path was a perfect match for the Finnish climate and culture in addition to the International Marketing Management Programme at LUT. I love untouched nature, endurance sports like running and cycling, and the raw exposure to new ways of thinking and doing. As hard work and luck would have it, I won the Fulbright Scholarship to Finland in 2019 – my one way ticket to the cold, dark, and unknown.
LUT due to focus on sustainability
Ultimately, I chose to attend LUT due to its focus on sustainability at the intersection of technology, as well as the internalization of small-and medium-sized enterprises, which represent 99% of all business in the European Union. The coursework and group projects during my first year allowed me to explore different aspects of marketing, digitalization, and relationship-building, sharpening my critical thinking and communication skills. In my second year, I investigated how a consultancy firm can harness data and AI commercially for new business and growth for my thesis.
The campus community at LUT fosters both a local and international presence
Yet, when I am an old man in my rocking chair, my courses will take a back seat to the people I encountered along the way thanks to LUT. The campus community fosters both a local and international presence that rivals even the diversity of Washington, DC. For example, my average lunch consisted of people from Ireland, Vietnam, Guatemala, and Finland while my roommates in a shared LOAS apartment represented people from Hungary, France, Germany, and Italy.
While befriending Finns is no easy task, I found that getting to know them over a topic or activity of common interest was the best strategy. I admire their reflectiveness, connection to the land, and belief that friendship has no expiration date. So I encourage anyone to take the plunge – either in an icy lake or by jumpstarting a conversation – and invite others to join you on the path to becoming a more authentic human being at LUT.
The rising value of LUT and its growing network helped me to get my foot in the door
Today, I am among the first only English speakers at Kiilto, a Finnish family-owned company with over a 100 year history, operating in 11 countries and employing approximately 1,000 innovative professionals in the chemical industry. The rising value of LUT and its growing network helped me to get my foot in the door. As I gain momentum, I now look back to LUT as a source of inspiration when building brand awareness for Kiilto in Scandinavian markets through ‘Tom the Trainee’ digital shorts and informative content writing.
LUT has just opened so many doors for me here in Finland even as an expat or foreigner. This past month I was offered 2 other jobs - So I just want to make it clear that LUT acted as a launchpad for future collaboration and entrepreneurship.