Alumni success story: Zeynep is working as an Digital Marketing intern at Odla Mer – a new gardening and plant care app from Sweden.
What’s your name and where are you from? How did you end up in Finland?
My name is Zeynep Incegul and I'm originally from Turkey, currently residing in Espoo. I moved to Finland together with my husband, who found a job opportunity here. We were eager to embark on a new adventure, so I left my job in Turkey behind and took the risk of starting afresh in Finland. We've been living here for 14 months now.
What aspects of Finland do you appreciate the most?
I really enjoy the calmness and tranquility that Finland offers. As an introvert, I find that the Finnish culture aligns well with my own disposition. The peacefulness, the respectfulness of people, and the cleanliness of the surroundings truly resonate with me. I also adore the beautiful forests and love taking walks in nature.
What challenges have you encountered in the job market in Finland?
One aspect I found challenging is that Finnish employers tend to prioritize their own citizens. It's understandable, as there are highly qualified individuals eagerly seeking job opportunities in Finland. Breaking into the job market has proven to be quite difficult.
After moving to Finland, I joined an integration program by city of Helsinki, where I met a lot of people who’ve experienced the same problem – and there a new friend of mine told me about Herizon as well! The integration program included Finnish language learning and job market support. Initially everybody needs to find an internship to practice our language skills and most people work at kindergartens, since they are more readily available. However the companies do not provide financial support as participants receive unemployment benefits.
Could you tell us about your background and work experience?
I have a background in finance, having graduated from a prestigious university in Turkey with a major in business administration. I initially worked as an assistant auditor in a major bank, monitoring finances and serving customers across various branches. Later, I transitioned to Unilever, where I worked in the finance team for the ice cream category—the most significant revenue generator in Turkey. My responsibilities included financial forecasting, advising C-level decision-making, monthly end-closing activities, pricing strategies, marketing budgets, and business partnering with operations, marketing, and sales teams. The dynamic nature of the industry, where weather conditions impacted consumer behavior, kept me engaged and motivated. However, I was shocked, that my experience and education wasn’t enough here in Finland.
Gladly now I’m working at Odla Mer, which is a gardening and plant care startup, as an marketing intern and I’m loving it! I’m doing a lot of experiments and really enjoying to grow with the company.
What have you done at Odla Mer?
Working with a startup like Odla Mer has taught me the importance of experimentation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in the world of growth hacking; instead, it requires constantly exploring and testing different strategies to identify what works best for your specific company. Even though I am still relatively new to Odla Mer, I have already begun experimenting with small changes that have yielded significant impact. For example we’ve found out that, people aren’t reading, but tend to be more drawn to visual content. So we’ve been really testing to use pictures effectively.
Additionally, we’ve been doing testing on push notifications to have a working call-to-action in those messages. These experiments have allowed me to contribute to Odla Mer’s growth hacking efforts and contribute to the company's growth. As I continue to learn and grow, I look forward to exploring further innovative strategies to drive growth and propel Odla mer to new heights.
What are the differences you've noticed between working in corporations and startups?
In large corporations, roles are often well-defined, while in startups like Odla Mer, where I currently work, there is more flexibility and adaptability required. I thrive in dynamic environments where things change frequently, and I enjoy the freedom to take ownership of my work without waiting for approvals or being tied to specific roles.
Tell us something surprising about yourself.
Since moving to Finland, I have developed a passion for traveling. In the past 14 months, I have visited 14 different countries. One of my most memorable trips was to Zanzibar during Christmas, where I experienced the beauty of the place and went on a safari. I have a particular fondness for elephants. Although I visited Rovaniemi, I was disappointed not to witness the Northern Lights. However, I did have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus, who told me that they had been visible for six consecutive days before my visit.
What impact has being part of the Herizon community had on you?
The Herizon community has provided me with valuable connections and a supportive network. Whenever I have questions or need advice, the community members are incredibly kind and willing to share their ideas and knowledge. Attending the coworking events has been a delightful experience. As immigrants in Finland, networks like Herizon are crucial for boosting our skills and helping us navigate the challenges we face. It's heartening to see people genuinely assisting one another. I also appreciate the emphasis on creating concise and impactful resumes, as it seems that many employers do not thoroughly read long CVs.
What advice would you give to other Herizon community members?
I would encourage them to focus on their strengths and work towards enhancing them, rather than trying to juggle multiple skills simultaneously. Obtaining certifications in their respective fields and increasing visibility within the HR landscape can be advantageous.
How do you overcome challenges?
I try to approach challenges from different perspectives, putting myself in someone else's shoes to gain a fresh outlook. Stepping back and considering the worst-case scenario helps me realize that most challenges are not as daunting as they initially appear. This perspective allows me to mitigate the impact on my work and life, ultimately reducing stress.
What message would you like to convey to companies?
Although it may sound cliché, diversity truly matters. Building diverse teams with individuals from different backgrounds, especially in cross-functional settings, is essential, particularly for companies targeting a global market. Regarding my field, business administration, there are numerous skilled individuals already working in Finland. While favoring Finnish language proficiency is understandable, it is essential to also value the experiences and expertise of immigrants.
What are your plans for the future?
My current contract ends in June, and I hope to secure a permanent position at Odla Mer, provided the company continues to grow. I am striving to find my place in this new country. Additionally, I am considering pursuing a master's degree in marketing, as I would love to expand my knowledge in that field.
💜 Thanks Zeynep for sharing your thoughts, and we are so happy that you're part of our Herizon community! You can reach out to Zeynep on her LinkedIn.