One of my favorite projects this semester was in my sustainability marketing & communication course. We could choose between three different tasks that were given by a Finnish cooperative: S-Group (SOK)
The three cases were the following:
1) Finnwatch report 1/2013 – Analysis how the report’s findings were discussed publically (crisis communication)
2) Hotel’s breakfast buffets – How to get customers to minimize food waste? (communication plan)
3) Prisma supermarket chain – responsibility communication of certified products (communication plan)
Our group chose the second case about the breakfast buffets.
I brought in some concepts from HWZ (especially from the course “Integrated Communication”) to create this communication plan with my group for SOK. Especially important was the definition of the tarket groups in the beginning. We defined three target groups: Families, Tourists and Business Guests. Then we defined some main messages and created the communication material. Here is an example of one of the flyers we created for the company. I took out the hotel chain logo:
A great thing in this course was a pre-presentation two weeks before the actual presentation for the company. Therefore we could gather some useful feedback and improve our communication material and go a little more into depth. Most groups were able to improve their presentations a lot before the final presentation, which resulted in great project presentations for SOK.
As the semester ended this week, many exchange students are already going home this weekend. ESN Helga (the Erasmus Student Union from Haaga-Helia University) organised a farewell party on Thursday at Baarikärpänen, a club in Helsinki right next to the main train station.
In our building in Pasila, there were many pre-parties inside and outside, as it was quite warm and nice outside. Dress-Code for the party was a white t-shirt which could then be signed by the other students. Well, unfortunately I missed out on that as I completely didn’t realize that before and just noticed when we left that I was wearing a black shirt – not signable at all!!
It was a really nice evening, very emotional for those who had to leave soon and a little sad because so many new friends were made in that Erasmus semester in Helsinki… But it was also a lot of fun, enjoying a nice spring night together with all the other exchange students.
Getting home was also interesting, as at 3.00 it was already getting light outside again.
As this was the last week of the semester, many projects and reports were due. One of them was in my cross-cultural management course.
The project was to analyze the culture and especially the business culture of another country. Our group chose the United Arab Emirates. I enjoyed this project very much, as it was a small project group of only four students where I was the only exchange students among three Finnish students.
We analyzed the UAE culture regarding Hofstede’s dimensions, religion, values, communication style, conversational taboos, negotiation culture, business gifts, business manners and concept of time. Later on, we developed questions and interviewed two people who have lived and worked in the UAE to compare theory and actual practice.
As presentation, we build some kind of a “fair stand” and all groups presented that at the same time. I very much liked this way of presenting, because we were able to walk around the classroom and check out other people’s stands and ask questions. We had to grade two other groups and give them feedback on their fair stands. The groups seemed really motivated and got really creative on building their stands.
Here is a picture of our fair stand on UAE:
I had quite a rough week… The second part of the semester started and I have one more class than in the first period. And of course, I’m still working between 50 and 60%… All that together after the Easter holiday was quite a lot.
But this brings me to a subject that I was able to explore a little while going to school in Finland. The finnish school system is very much designed and supportive for working students. Many courses are offered for both daytime and evening students. This is quite good for me in this situation and I even have three evening courses. Of course, many other exchange students think that this is a lot and they prefer not to take any evening classes at all if possible. But I must admit that I like the system here. The evening classes are always held from 17.40 to 20.30 – quite bearable. And there are also a lot of “adult” students (that’s what they are called here ) in these classes, a new experience for me. They take the classes and group work a little more serious and have a bit of a different view of school.
But there are also a lot of students in my age, working 50% or more. I didn’t expect that but I’m quite happy with it. So lots of people who know the situation even though most of the exchange students can’t imagine going to school and working so much at the same time…
This week the “intensive week” took place. I liked the concept of having a course in just one week, so you can concentrate on this single course and then move on in the semester.
The course I took was called “Marketing Yourself” and had a Swiss teacher! Basically we learned how to improve our CV and write a cover letter. But there were also some other helpful hints as a self assessment in terms of skills and beliefs, how to improve your LinkedIn Profile or how to prepare a “One-Minute Commercial” about yourself. And in the last lesson we were doing an example of a role play exercise that some companies do when they want to compare candidates directly.
Unfortunately though the course isn’t quite done after this week, we still need to do some exercises and turn in a lot of stuff. But I guess that’s just what you have to expect from a course with 3 ECTS. So let me get back on that…
As we’re slowly approaching the end of the first period of the semester at Haaga-Helia, I think it’s time to talk about the structure of the semester here. It’s actually quite different from HWZ. Haaga-Helia’s semesters are divided into two parts: 1st and 2nd period. Some courses last the whole semester, from January until May. But there are quite a lot of courses that only last one period. My schedule will look a lot different in the 2nd period, as I have only one course lasting the whole semester (“Successful Event”).
In between those periods there is the “intensive week”. It offers extra time for intensive courses that only last that one week. And of course, if you don’t feel like taking an intensive course, you will just have that week off. It will take place from the 18. – 22. March. And as I have some required courses, I will take part in the intensive week and work a little on my personal development: “Marketing Yourself” is the name of the course I’m taking there.
This structure provides a little more freedom when choosing courses. Of course, we wouldn’t face that problem at HWZ, as there is a given schedule for each semester. But I think for Finnish students it’s also quite nice to have a little variety in their schedule as it’s the same every week.
I made this observation during the last few weeks of school: Haaga-Helia uses Moodle a lot different that HWZ does.
I’m used to Moodle being used as a tool to share files or maybe on certain (very few) occasions take a test on it. In Finland they use Moodle more extensive. Moodle is being used not only for file-sharing, but also to have entire classes on it. There are group assignments and group discussions in Moodle, feedbacks from the teachers, and a lot more. I have classes where I don’t have a single paper, but everything is being done electronically and you only have to go to class every other week. At the same time though there are group assignments due every week.
I was surprised when I realized that HWZ and Haaga-Helia are actually using the same version of Moodle. But it seems like every school has different ways of using the given features in it.