Let’s face the facts. 80% of the positions offered at Startuplifers cycle around tech jobs – coders, data scientists, developers. That’s the sector where Finland mainly competes internationally. For business students, hence, it is recommended to look for positions independently, too. As the competition for business positions such as marketing, sales, or business development is way harder with the US counterparts, one needs to give an extra push to land a job they wish for. Our lifer Pauliina Alanen is one of the persistent ones who managed to land a job in marketing via the On Demand Track. We asked her how it all came about.

Photos: https://friscosisko.tumblr.com/

How did you start of (where did you get the idea, did you also apply to the program, who did you talk to)?

– I wanted to go to the US! I’ve been working in startups previously and was intrigued by the tech world. San Francisco was an obvious choice, although I also was looking at positions in New York.

How many applications did you send and how many interviews did you do?

– I talked to a lot of people and used all my connections to gain knowledge about life in the US. I asked where people had worked and what they’d recommend. Just asking someone for lunch that had just returned from a 3-month internship in New York gave me much more first-hand insights than any Google search.

So at which point did Startuplifers step in?

– Startuplifers has been a great support and help throughout the process. Just practicalities, like getting the visa would have probably seemed too hard without their knowledge. Also, the network that lives here in SF is invaluable – I’ve never felt I’m alone.
– I went to one of Startuplifers’ events at Flux where I got contacts to alumni that had just returned. One of them went to have lunch with me a week later and shared with me her experience of working in a fast-growing startup in the City. I took many of her advice to my applications and getting to know the work life.

What was the hardest part of the process?

– Stepping into the unknown is of course always a challenge, but as I had already done that before (I’d been to two exchange years in Europe) and I had heard of people who had lived here, I knew more or less I could do it.
– It took me a while to realize I’m working abroad for the next one and half years, and not studying anymore, like in my previous international tours. It’s entirely different way of living and making new friends.

What kind of questions should one especially prepare to answer?

– Just be ready to pitch yourself. Everyone you will know will be new to you, and eager to learn more. Work on your elevator pitch and especially what you want to do and why – you will be more interesting to companies if you are determined and know already what in particular interests you in that specific company.

Looking back, is there something you would have done differently/started earlier?

– I jumped straight into a company that works on US healthcare system. Thank God there’s Youtube and Internet, but I could’ve learned something about it before coming here and getting totally swallowed by it (laughs). One thing I did do right though is finishing my thesis, which I managed to return just a week before moving in here.

How long did the whole process take from the first application to a job offer?

– I applied for Startuplifers in the Fall 2016 batch and met our CEO at Slush after a couple of Skype interviews. After that, it was probably a week to receiving the offer.

What advantages does one have by applying through On Demand?

– If you find the job yourself, you may find positions that otherwise wouldn’t be available via Startuplifers. To me, it was clear that I needed to do a lot of research myself, as I was looking for more of a marketing/communications role instead of being a developer. In the techland, there are obviously more positions for those who code, but every company needs other skills as well – you just need to show your interest towards working in these tech companies
and be clear about what you can offer them.

Pauliina is several months in working at BetterDoctor in San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more, follow her at
Twitter https://twitter.com/palan3n
Medium https://medium.com/@palan3n/reflecting-on-the-past-6-months-as-a-startuplifer-in-san-francisco-3d959eb02bc8
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/palanen/
Blog https://friscosisko.tumblr.com/