Vietnamese student in Finland: Erasmus internship boosted my career

“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.”

Confucius
student standing on a path lined with trees on Aalto university campus in Finland

Dinh Nguyen Phuong Trinh is a young Vietnamese student who never stopped chasing her dreams no matter how hard it seems sometimes. She is now a second year business management student at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences in Finland. To gain more international experience, she decided to go abroad to Slovakia for her internship. Keep reading to hear what was it like to study and work in two European countries.

Why did you choose Finland as your ideal study destination?

The reason why I chose Finland is because I heard that its education system is one of the best in the world. In Finland teachers focus on each student as an individual and develop different study approaches based on the student’s strengths. Finnish education system places emphasis on equality, which means all people are equal and have the same opportunities. Moreover, the way children enjoy their studies at school without any exams until high school indicates that high score really doesn’t matter. The crucial thing here is definitely educational equity!

Helsinki Central Library Oodi
Helsinki Central Library – Oodi

Compared Vietnamese education, I think Finnish education is more different and unique. Thus, I would love an opportunity to actually experience it and witness these differences with my own eyes. I neither judge nor compare them. All I care is about learning and growth processes. Also, I observe that Finnish schools have helped students to learn how to release stress, study in a peaceful environment and collaborate with peers and teachers.   

What do you do in your leisure time?

My leisure activities are quite simple. After studying, sometimes I go to the market to buy some food and prepare lunch-box for the next day or study online courses for which I set a goal for myself everyday.

a lunch box
Trinh’s lunch-box

At the weekend, I usually paint on a canvas; capturing all the best moment and the beautiful landscapes of Finnish nature. Composing music and playing my favorite songs on a piano are my favorite hobbies as well.

painting of the night sky with northern lights and deer standing on the foregorund in Finland
Phuong Trinh’s painting of Finnish night sky

During my free time I also like hanging out with my friends and having cook-outs together. For example, before leaving my second home for the internship in Slovakia, me and my international friends had a memorable farewell party. I made traditional Vietnamese spring-rolls or “kevätrullat” in Finnish and typical Vietnamese sandwiches, both very well-known, crunchy and delicious streetfoods. My Indian friend, in return, cooked his fabulous South Indian Payasam for dessert. The dinner party was so much fun! We talked, ate and drank cold beers. I think the best way to make a circle of friends and understand cultural diversity of each country is by talking and doing things together.

homemade vietnamese spring rolls ona plate on a table next to a cooking pot
colourful vietnamese and india food on a table
Bánh mì or banhmi - hand holding a typical Vietnamese sandwich with meat and cucumber
Bánh mì – a typical Vietnamese sandwich
group of international friends from Vietnam, India and Finland sitting on a sofa in Finland

Tell me about your internship in Slovakia?

Preparation and rejections

I knew the second year would be a good time for me to start my practical training. After carefully customizing my CV and cover letter to exactly match the specific details of job description, I sent out about 40 to 50 applications. It was by far one of the most frustrating aspects of job search as I didn’t hear any results from the recruiters for 1 to 2 months. That was the tough time when I had to deal with my emotions and be faced with rejections. Despite the fact that all my previous experience, skills and overall knowledge made me well qualified, I still did receive rejections.

Getting internship offer from Erasmus+

Suddenly I started receiving job offers from outside Finland. They were all through Erasmus Internship Program. I thought the reason I wasn’t able to get a position in Finland was that I could have the chance to explore other European countries. The feeling of getting a job made me so surprised, excited and happy.

Believe in yourself!

I chose Slovakia as my intern destination. I trusted my gut that this intern position as a Market Analyst would bring me a great opportunity to understand more about markets and gain experience about international business and economic. By really immersing myself in this work, I have fully understood how worldwide companies run their own business, how people work together to achieve the same goals and uphold sustainable values.

After all, we can learn many things from an internship. Even if you haven’t gotten a job yet, just keep believing in yourself and try as much as you can. Your fate will finally lead you to a journey that will change your life.

vietnamese student sitting on green grass under a tree in Finland and studying

What challenges do you face at work?

The biggest obstacle is probably how to communicate well with my colleagues. I remember first time when I spoke in English with my supervisor. I spoke a bit too fast because of being nervous and didn’t pronounce words clearly. He had to stop me to calm me down. He also said that working in a multi-cultural environment means that sometimes I will have to deal with international customers who only speak a little bit of English or not at all. Taking his advice, I am now practicing and improving my communication skills. Generally speaking, the work is quite nice; my supervisor and other colleagues always support me.

Do you have any words for people who want to develop themselves?

Truthfully, I would have never had a chance to discover the world if I just stayed in Vietnam. One essential part of Finnish education I noticed is that education is a human right, and people really value it as they can study at any age as long as they have the passion and motivation. I am very impressed! Hence, I needed to try my best in order to get the opportunity to study abroad in Finland.

I would like to find out what I really want to study. I would also like to highlight the importance of learning and personal growth; and how things could help me develop my career in the future. Not only learning all the theories at school but it is also about practicing what I have learned in a working environment. Likewise, I would love to find out what I really want to do for a job, live for it and contribute to the sustainable development of society; not just make a living from it.

A view on the river in Turku, Finland in autumn with trees lining the river
Autumn Turku 2018

Any advice for students looking for Erasmus internships?

Firstly, your CV and cover letter should be well-prepared. Then start searching for open vacancies by narrowing them down by country or by company or by the fields you want to apply for. Remember to check the application period, deadlines, and regularly modify your cover letter and CV to meet job requirement. In addition, do not forget to do research beforehand about the company that you apply for in order to understand more about its products, history, etc. This will be useful information in the interview.

Next, ask for suggestions and recommendations from alumni, recruiters or whoever has had former experience in order to correct or make changes to your CV and cover letter. Read interesting job-hunting articles to have an idea about what you will experience as well.

Whenever you have free time, try and make efforts to search for internships. It could be from Erasmus websites, Facebook groups, LinkedIn or even from your circles of friends of acquaintances. Just keep hoping!


If you are looking for an internship or part-time job in Finland, we have gathered a few handy tips in this post.

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