We asked alumni of different fields to share their experiences in working life after graduation. They all have in common a study period at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (or the previous institutions). This is Joanna Szybińska’s story.
1.What is your background and how you’re linked to Finland?
Journalism – I spent this fabulous year in Finland thanks to Erasmus program. In this time I learned more that during 4 other years at Polish University. (Sorry Warsaw!)
2. What is your current profession and where do you work?
I’m the co-owner in private company which I founded with Michał (my husband actually) We are a producer of organic food, in my company I need to do many various things – from idea, to selling and negotiate prices.
3. How did you get there? How was your career path?
Firstly, during my studies I managed one of the biggest coffee shops in Warsaw. This experience – which I still use every day – helped me do get some gastronomy project for Italians. They wanted me to open and manage Italian (Sicilian) restaurant in the city center in Warsaw. But (happily) they were undecided about each location I suggested for them (basically today in this places are the most know restaurants in Warsaw. After 6 months I quit this job and decided to sell Michał’s mom’s book about herbs. I worked at home, cooperating with herbal stores and sell on Polish alternative to e-bay.
In this time, we decided to prepare first herbal blend and sell it with books. So after 3 months we had our first ’tea’ product. In this time also Michał finished his adventure with tv advertising company (his story is also very interesting, because he get this job only thank’s to our Finnish adventure. Our courses in Stadia and everything we learned in this time – and he tells almost everyday that those Erasmus time saved his life! And it’s so true.
So! Now my (our) company is 4,5 years old, we attend to different market exhibitions like EXPO etc. and sell around the country. Have quite a lot of products.
4. How do you find labour markets at the moment based on your experiences?
Luckily I was saved from long term searching job. My first big job – in coffee shop – I found very quickly, head-hunter found me for Italians and then own company. But I can say, that every every day, I need all my experiences, which I get before. All my gastronomy knowledge (we still need all hygienic etc. law regulations), managing people, accountant staff and experience from Finland – presentations, working with different people, Photoshop courses – which I use everyday (!) for advertising my products and finally – next week we are starting with short videos – which we will be able to edit only thank’s to Stadia time.
5. Based on your own experiences, what have been the most important lessons you’ve learned so far?
It’s a very hard question, but I think that it would be ’not to be too nice to people’. I hate that, but in my business I have only bad experiences about that. And it’s not about being a woman – because Michał has the same problem. You just need to be assertive and not too nice – other way workers are going to lose this ’good distance’, contractors want bigger discounts etc.
I learned that my ’being nice for everybody’ policy is not working anymore! I need to fight with myself everyday – to remember about that and on the other hand – not to lose this ’being nice’ part of myself – which is very important to me and help me to be ”ME”. Now it’s reserved for family and closest friends 🙂
6. If you think your current field of trade, what is/are the hardest for women to tackle? Or does gender have any meaning at all?
I’m sure that gender has a huge meaning here. I hadn’t many problems – I noticed that in business I have got many male attributes and even it’s easier to me to talk with guys. But my experience is also that, that women are unprofessional – I need to say… Men as well, but it’s very hard to find (maybe that’s only my market/country/contractors) well prepared woman. Usually they (girls) make a lot of mistakes (p. ex. prices), are unprepared about information about their companies, products etc. Also it was hard to find female workers to our office – to find them professional, focused, full of energy and enthusiasm. Sorry all woman around the world, but my experiences are that they think they smile nice and everything is done. But it doesn’t work that way.
But – to make this story a little bit sweeter… I’m very proud to be a woman in business! I am able to make deals with guys but on the other hand – when it’s needed – for example during some huge usefulness controls from government etc. I let myself to be ’a woman’ and don’t know some small things.
7. How do you want to encourage those willing to have your position at the moment? How can they get there, too?
Everyone can get wherever he wants! The most important thing is – to do what you love. To take 10 favorite things like ’working with people/working with my husband (in my situation) /design/selling/traveling etc. And find your dreamed job. If it’s 7/10 noted points – it’s quite close to happiness. Don’t accept bullshit in your life. If something makes you angry all the time – change that. Other way – you won’t be happy – and only happy people can make good things.