International cooperation is rewarding for both students and companies



Petri Ahokangas, Professor of International Business in the University of Oulu, has coordinated the cooperation between students and companies for a long time.

Local enterprises offer international university students opportunities to carry out training periods and various projects alone or in groups. Petri Ahokangas says that while students gain practical knowledge of running an enterprise, at the same time they are of help to the company’s business.

“The students’ various projects and thesis assignments have been useful for companies in situations such as the company wanting to become more international and extend its business to another country. Thesis assignments have concretely helped companies in planning internationalization strategies and given them new, fresh ideas and business concepts.”

Positive feedback from both sides

Petri Ahokangas attests that companies have been very satisfied with their cooperation with international students. At times, good experiences have led the company to employ students after successful cooperation.

“Feedback has been positive, and companies have contacted us afterward and wished to find a way to reward the students for the work they have done.”

Students find the opportunity to cooperate with companies one of the most rewarding aspects of their studies.

“Cooperation with companies allows international students to get to know people, establish connections and possibly get employed in companies they have cooperated with.”

Diverse multicultural experiences benefit all

Professor Petri Ahokangas points out that there are many different ways that companies in various lines of business can benefit from students. In addition to their language skills, a significant benefit is their experience of studying and working in different locations around the globe.

“The strengths of international students lie in their knowledge of their own culture, their potential skills acquired through earlier degrees and their work experience in companies around the world. They are hard-working, motivated and interested in business.”

International cooperation is recommended from the beginning

For all companies considering cooperation with international students, Petri Ahokangas recommends taking initiative.

“It is really worthwhile for companies to be active in recruiting students for cooperation projects. I recommend that they directly contact the University of Oulu to find out what kind of assignments international students could do for their company. A curious and open mind is the most important quality of every company.”

According to Petri Ahokangas, every new entrepreneur or soon-to-be entrepreneur should at least consider recruiting international experience. Finland is already international, but more cooperation would make it even more so.

“Finland becomes international at a fast speed. Companies can gain advantages by developing their new business ideas in cooperation with international students. If one wants to accomplish something new, it is vital to involve international competency even in the early stages of the plans.”