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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Working with an international team



Kirjoittanut: Saara Leinonen - tiimistä Samoa.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 6 minuuttia.

In February 2021 we hosted a team all the way from Switzerland. They were here for three weeks and prepared a Swiss event which took place on the last week.

 

 

Working with an international team is very different than working with a Finnish team. Language, culture, working methods and many other things were much more to handle with than I had even thought.

In this essay I want to tell you bit of my experience and thoughts. Of course, many things about the three weeks are not mentioned, because it is hard to get everything in one essay. But I wanted to let you know few things how it went and how did I see things.

 

How it all started?

 

This all started in fall 2021 when our coach told us about this opportunity to host an international team. We got excited right away and accepted the opportunity. I became the contact person from our team and started to communicate with the Swiss contact person.

 

Communication via emails worked great and everything went well. I noticed that the emails were businesslike from their side. Messages were very clear and easy to read and understand. I almost felt a little bad for them because my messages were not that detailed. But that was something I instantly took in practice: I must write equally matter-of-fact messages back.

 

After couple of emails, we planned a video meeting. First meeting was with the whole team, and we got to ask questions and tell them more about us. They were not expecting to see all of us but were delighted about the surprise. After that we had many other calls to plan their trip.

 

They planned a schedule for the upcoming three weeks. It was really detailed and had almost every hour booked from 8am to 6pm. I noticed that their working schedule is very different than how we work. In here we usually call it a day after 4pm, but they end the work around 5pm. I could see right away how hard working they are. Never in a million years I could’ve imagined my team to have this strict schedule. I later gathered a project team for myself to help me plan their trip and project.

 

They finally arrive!

 

The Swiss team arrived on February 21st. We had planned some games for the first day to help everyone get to know each other. Our coach held a presentation about Proakatemias history at their request.

 

During the coach’s presentation the Swiss team was very confused about the so called “silent moments”, because in their working culture it’s not normal to be quiet. Always when there were silent, someone tried to ask a question and keep the presentation or conversation going. This was odd for my team because we were so used to have moments just for thinking and internalizing the subject.

 

First day went well in my opinion. We went for afterwork drinks in Pyynikin Brewhouse, and that was the place when we really got to know each other better. We were excited to see, what will the following three weeks bring to us.

 

Project

 

We had pre-planned the project as a cheese fondue pop-up event. They had bought 30kg of swiss cheese beforehand and there comes the first problem we ran into. Since Switzerland is not part of the EU, the cheese got stuck in customs. In that moment we felt frustrated: We must do brainstorming and planning again all the way from the bottom.

 

First two project meetings we did the brainstorming and tried to come up with a new idea. After we got an idea, my teammate told that she was able to get the cheese from the customs. We didn’t feel like we did unnecessary work, because of the joy we got after hearing the news: We can stick with the original plan and process it more!

 

As I mentioned before, the Swiss team is very hard working, and they plan everything ahead. They divided us in different project teams. I was a part of marketing team. For me the project team idea was good, because we got to focus on one thing and communicate with other teams if help was needed.

After every project session, we did a motorola together. I was surprised to hear how some of them were disappointed about the work because they thought it wasn’t successful enough. That was weird for me because I had thought that we were doing well and had much progress. This happened multiple times in motorolas.

 

After two weeks of hard work the project finally took place. The Swiss event was held in Café&Bar Raina. Beautiful handmade decorations, swiss music and people really took the atmosphere up to the ceilings. For every person there was a working schedule made beforehand. I couldn’t be there that much during the event day, which made me feel a little bad. All the work we had done, and I wasn’t able to see it all in its glory.

 

Our team thought that the event was successful, but the Swiss team did not think so. They were hoping to get more money and expect more people to show up. There were also some leftovers from the cheese, and they weren’t happy that they didn’t sell it all. Maybe if the event was two days instead of one, more people would’ve showed up and more cheese could’ve been sold. But here is another thing to take in practice and do better next time.

 

Difficulties and differences between two teams

 

During these three weeks we ran into some difficulties between two teams. First thing was the language and talking speed. As a Finn, I really didn’t want to mess things up and especially when talking in English. That means I really had to think what I was about to say so I wouldn’t make any mistakes. This was unnecessary overthinking, because everyone could understand very clearly even though the grammar was not always perfect.

 

Other problem with language to me was that the French accent was very hard to understand. I had to process the things they say in French accent and try to think of an answer quick before they get into another subject. Why think an answer quick? Because they speak faster than we do and sometimes it was hard to keep up with the conversation. We brought this up and they slowed down their talking and it helped the communication more.

We could notice lots of cultural differences other than language. Even though they have the same school system idea in their school, the working culture is much different than ours. As I mentioned before, their working time is longer than ours. Around 4pm when we were ready to call it a day, they just kept working until they get everything done because they had scheduled them to be ready that day. This was something I admired. I wish I had the same kind of motivation and passion to get everything done in the same day. Again, one thing to take in practice.

 

They were strict towards work. That is probably the reason why they kept working until they were done. If something wasn’t done even though it was planned to be ready in time, you get feedback right away. They like to follow the plan and if something doesn’t go that way, it makes people frustrated. This was new thing for us because we tend to always find a way to encourage each other to try do better next time and help if needed. Maybe we could take some learning from this and try to follow a plan better and give feedback right away.

 

Some difficulties came also from our team. We had a miscommunication about how the working will go. Is the project done 50/50 or are we helping them to make the event happen if help is needed. Because of the miscommunication, many people were not present that much and working on the project than others. And because they were not present, they felt that it was hard to hop on working on the project. This is something we will take in practice: Communicate better and plan the working situation well ahead.

 

Benefits

 

This experience taught us more than we could imagine. The working culture gave us many things that we could improve in our own working method. Better communication, planning and hard working in general will be taken in action. We really got out of our comfort zone. We got to learn more English because it was our daily language for three weeks.

It was great to see and hear how many people really went all in and improved their language skills, including myself. We barely spoke any English anywhere in school except for the international teams we have in Proakatemia. Now it is easier for us to have that chat with English-speaking-students in the cafeteria or in pajas. Maybe without this experience, I wouldn’t be writing this in English.

 

The exchange didn’t just bring two different teams together, it brought our team closer to each other. We helped each other out all the time, talked a lot more in chats and did things together outside school more than we have done ever before.

 

We got to meet amazing entrepreneur students from other country. Not just in business mind, but also outside school environment. Had amazing three weeks together. Pajas, project, free time and much more. It was amazing to have this opportunity and continue collaboration with an international team. Next step for us is to plan our trip to Switzerland and see how things are done in there!

 

 

Sources:

Pajavihkon muistiinpanot

Projekti muistiinpanot

Oman pään muistiinpanot

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