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Ashley Gross

Best of Both Worlds: 8 weeks as an Innofactor Trainee

Two months after coming to Finland and Innofactor, I can whole-heartedly say I’ve learned more than I could’ve imagined.

As I finished my second year as a soccer player for my university in the United States in April, I knew this summer I would need both a good training environment as well as a workplace that would help me in my professional career. I thought about how I would like to live somewhere new but I had no idea that pursuing that idea would take me out of my home country, let alone to a continent I had never been to before. However, when I got the opportunity to play for HJK women’s team and intern with Innofactor, it seemed like the best of both worlds.

The transition to life here was much less difficult than I had expected. Almost everyone I have come across speaks English fluently and the food is not much different. My soccer practices are in Finnish, but my teammates always give me a quick translation when I need it. My Finnish host family welcomed me with open arms and have been nothing short of amazing to me during my stay – showing me around the Helsinki capital area and nearby cities, cooking delicious meals and helping me adjust to life abroad.

Since arriving in Helsinki, I have enjoyed a few cultural differences between Finland and the United States. After getting a few hesitations and bizarre responses, I realized that small talk isn’t a part of daily conversation for most Finland natives. I am still surprised every time I see how no one will cross the street unless the little green figure says it’s okay, even if there isn’t a car in sight. Food is fresher and comes in smaller packages. Work days are shorter, vacations longer. The weather is cooler and saunas are everywhere. But overall, day to day life is nearly the same.

A large part of my positive experience on this side of the pond is thanks to Innofactor and everyone working here. I’m studying math, leadership and economics at the University of Richmond so working with Marketing and Human Resources has been new and exciting. On my first day here, I was warmly welcomed by everyone I met. I was lucky enough to meet many different people through various tasks I’ve worked on throughout the past eight weeks, ranging from helping develop Innofactor’s brand of mechanical puzzles to assisting on compiling job descriptions for the Espoo office.

I have gained a new respect for those involved in hiring new employees. I’ve found that since the jobs are not clear-cut and there is a certain amount of freedom in what teams focus on, the success of the company is dependent on having not only able employees but creative, innovative, and accountable ones to accomplish its mission. I think the success of Innofactor is a clear reflection of the talented staff. Personally, this has helped me realize the importance of cultivating qualities such as creativity and innovation, as these are sometimes more valuable than material knowledge

Spending two months at a leading IT company in the Nordics this summer has provided me with a great starting point for my career. Working alongside innovative and motivated staff is something I’ve been careful to appreciate during my time here because I know it’s a luxury not every company is lucky enough to have. I’ve developed skills, gone out of my comfort zone, and learned a few invaluable lessons. My growth as a person and as a part of the up and coming workforce has truly been shaped by my time with Innofactor and I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity that will surely give me an advantage moving forward.

Ashley Gross

Marketing & HR Trainee