From rain to snow: Dutchman joins the team of Bear IT

Moro! This is one of the very first Finnish words I learned since I started working at BearIT. I am Joren, a 22-year-old Dutch student who came to Finland to undertake an internship at BearIT.  As the first non-Finnish to work for BearIT, I am part of the company’s first steps to expanding abroad. In this blog post I share how I experienced the first months of my stay at BearIT.

So, a student from the Netherlands?

I recently entered the last phase of my undergraduate study, which is to undertake an internship and write a thesis. For some time now, data, IoT, and smart cities (all those fancy terms) spark my interest. Ideally speaking, I would be able to spend this period at a company where I could learn about these topics. But, as my search for an internship in Tampere started, it quickly became clear that it would be difficult to find something in the first place. During the first month, I had not managed to receive as little as one reply to my inquiries. Logically, I broadened my search by dropping my focus on companies that operate in these themes. Yet, another two months passed by without any luck.

For some time now, data, IoT, and smart cities spark my interest.

How I ended up at BearIT

While reaching out to companies, I got in touch with a fellow Dutchman who has been working in Finland for some time. A 10-minute conversation followed and ended on the note that he might be able to help. It was at this point that things were starting to develop rather quickly. A couple of days went by before I received an email with the contact details of Teemu Karhu, describing that he runs a small software firm in Tampere.

An obvious first step was to check out the firm’s website, where to my surprise I discovered a ‘pink-and-purple teddy bear’ as logo. While initially finding it quite unusual, I later realized that this logo perfectly resembles BearIT. A phone call with Teemu followed, and a week later we met in person. During this meeting it was noticeable how hard-skills were overshadowed by the focus on soft skills, leading to a pleasant and relaxed talk. It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the meeting that it was unclear whether my search for an internship could be ended, but a hand-shake at the end was a clear confirmation. A period of 10 weeks followed, during which I got introduced to Anne Tervakari, whom would be guiding me in the thesis process along the way. Together, Teemu and Anne made sure that everything was in place to arrange a smooth arrival and start of the internship.

It was at this point that things were starting to develop rather quickly.

What’s next?

It was clear from the beginning that I would write a thesis for the company, yet shaping the focus required some effort. The start needed lots of interaction with both Teemu and Anne to make sure the topic, internationalization of a small software firm, would be well understood. After a few weeks, the context of the company’s vision on internationalization became clear, enabling me to continue the project. The coming six weeks will conclude the thesis, after which I will graduate. The next step will be to move back to the Netherlands to pursue a postgraduate business degree in Rotterdam.

So far, it has been a rather incredible experience. For me, this has certainly been a chance to develop. Whether it is by learning ‘moi, kahvi, and huomiseen’ the vocabulary required to make it through the day, practices in the software industry, or day-to-day business. At the company, you feel-without-being-told that you are encouraged to ask questions, contribute ideas, and partake in discussions. And as far as I can tell, this is how the ‘pink-and-purple teddy bear’ logo perfectly resembles the firm. The logo challenges the status quo, and so does BearIT: the company’s culture respects and values your thoughts, contributions, and opinions irrespective of whether you’re just starting your career, have 25+ years of experience, are approaching your sixties, or, as in my case, are a student. When looking around the office you instantly notice how low-key and office-politics-free the atmosphere is. Personally, this is a company I could see myself end up at in a few years. Ideally, I would postpone ending my time at BearIT by combining this with my coming study. It has been a great experience up to this time. I have been lucky once, who knows I will be twice.  

The logo challenges the status quo, and so does BearIT.