Interview with Ermutlu Yonca

Ermutlu Yonca
Programme Coordinator, M.A.
Media and Global Communication
University of Helsinki

Three months internship is obligatory in Media and Global Communication Master’s Programme. The program coordinator participated into VALOA workshop for the universities and came up with a good case to work on. Finding the internship overall has been challenging for the students. Sometimes even with the university funding they still do not find a place although it would be free of cost for the employer.

International Master's Degree Program coordinator started to organize company visits so that students could get contacts to the work life and have some ideas of where to look for internships.

VALOA project interviewed the program coordinator Yonca Ermutlu.

How did you come up with the idea?

I have been thinking what we can do as the department to make it easier for our international students to find an internship here in Finland. One sad example of one good student is an interview situation where employers told the student that it is a disadvantage for her to tell that she is from Romania, and advised the student not to announce her nationality when she applies for a job. The student was very much heartbroken, and lost her motivation to continue her studies in Finland. She wanted to quit the master's programme, however, I and her master's seminar lecturer talked to her and convinced her that she takes a break now, and later returns to Finland. She is a very successful and hardworking student.

How did you find the contacts and how did you contact the companies? How many visits you made, where did you go and are you still going somewhere?

First we thought of visiting big companies as they are more approachable and easier places to go to visit. Big companies are often international and are recruiting interns. In the field of media studies there are also many small and medium sized companies. Finding those require more research as many of them function in Finnish. I have asked from my colleagues and friends for some names of the companies and people, and also from the students that where would they like to visit.

Some students are interested into corporate communication so we visited Nokia. I have a personal contact there - and old student of mine from Mexico who work there now. Through this student we had very successful visit there, and we were welcomed and guided by the corporate communications manager, marketing communications manager and human resources manager.

The communications professionals shared their knowledge about their own work, the communication strategy in Nokia and their every day work experiences and tasks. HR manager informed the students about the skills and competencies that Nokia is looking for from their job candidates besides the substantial knowledge that the studies develop. The students were advised to contact directly these people when they are looking for their internship placement or work from Nokia.

Students were very pleased about the openness and friendliness of the staff in Nokia and were very grateful for the information they received during the visit.

The next visit was to MTV 3 News House. My contact person there was our Finnish student who works there. This visit was also a great success because we were welcomed and guided by a news reporter who had excellent information on the company and the journalism. She was also very friendly and openly courage the students to contact her when they are looking for internship place or job. The challenge for international students to get into MTV 2 is the language barrier if you do not speak well enough Finnish.

The third visit was to EU commission in Finland. They invited us because they wanted to inform the media students how to access reliable information using different EU internet portals.

We have still in some visits in our list to be organized which are Helsingin Sanomat, YLE, Acsanafor communications office.

How have the companies responded to you when you have contacted them for the visits?

Very postive.

What about the content of the visits?

Media houses normally organize visits so they have their own guides. We specifically asked for specific information and lecture about the special topic that we had chosen and also concrete information on how to apply for an internship or job.

What kind of feedback you have gotten from the students?

They have been very satisfied and active.

Do you prepare the students for the visits somehow?

We inform about the visits in well advance and collect the list of the participants.

Do the students write a report about the visits or are the visits part of a study course?

No. When I first thought about this aspect, I came to conclusion that its better that anybody interested can attend to the visits. This way we can also keep up the good quality of the visits. I decided to organize these visits outside the study course because at this point I think that the most important thing is that the international students can get information and experience on the media field in Finland, and what are their possible opportunities in Finland.