- Good day-care centres and schools, safety and short distances. These are things you only learn to appreciate once you have a family. It is amazing that children can travel by riding their own bicycles here and parents do not need to be worried all the time, muses Ekaterina Miettinen.

Ekaterina Miettinen works as Development Manager in Business Joensuu Oy. Her task is helping local companies with internationalisation and finding foreign professionals who have moved to the Joensuu region.

– Joensuu has many foreign students, immigrants, returnees and spouses who have moved here from abroad. These people can bring important additional skill and internationalisation to local companies.

There are already over a hundred professionals and about twenty companies interested in international know-how in the TalentHub Joensuu network. The network wishes more companies to join – not only big but small and medium-sized companies and enterprises as well.

– We encourage companies to utilise this cooperation opportunity in every way possible. It is good to remember that even people who cannot speak Finnish yet may have the specific know-how that a company needs, Miettinen states.

The woman with a will

Ekaterina Miettinen was born in Petrozavodsk and moved to Finland sixteen years ago. The upper secondary schools of Petrozavodsk and Suomussalmi had a joint project that offered the opportunity to continue studies in Finland.

– Suomussalmi is a small town where learning the language was an essential condition of getting along. It was a necessity that I was glad to accept.
After upper secondary school, her university options were Joensuu and Jyväskylä. The former won the day because of its proximity with Russia. In Joensuu, Miettinen studied the

Russian language and culture with marketing and education as her secondary subjects.

An internship took her to the Karelia University of Applied Sciences where Miettinen first worked as a teacher and later in projects. The projects were related to travelling, business economy, marketing and often Russia as well, among other things.

She joined Business Joensuu in 2018. In October 2018 Miettinen became a Doctor of Economic Sciences in Joensuu. Her doctoral thesis was about the customer behaviour of tourists.

– Integrating into Finland requires perseverance and tenacity. Once you manage to enter the society, things are extremely good here. People are friendly and helpful, says Miettinen. She talks about a balance that anybody can find within themselves.

– Newcomers can create balance and a good life for themselves by accepting the new culture and its courses of action, while also appreciating the culture of their native country. Diversity is richness and a reason for joy! I have never encountered anything negative as an immigrant living in Joensuu.

Luxury for a family woman

As a counterbalance to work, Miettinen keeps herself busy with her beloved hobby: dancing in Joensuu’s Salsa del Este association. Joensuu has an abundance of hobby opportunities. She also gives a separate mention to the Joensuu District Multicultural Association, a.k.a. JoMoni.

Miettinen considers herself both a Finn and a Russian.

– The Finnish cultural status is important to me because I lived in Finland during the definitive years of my youth. I do not rule out the possibility of moving somewhere else one day. However, right now I think that my know-how is much more needed here than elsewhere.

Miettinen’s sister lives in Moscow. She is also very fond of St Petersburg – and travelling in general.

– But in the end, it feels great to return to Joensuu every time! People often say that Joensuu is a city of just the right size. We have all the essentials and know who to contact in moments of need.

Day-care, school, safety and convenient distances are the luxury of daily life in Joensuu

The Miettinen family includes her husband and their eleven-year-old son. The dual citizen of two countries thinks that Joensuu should be marketed to newcomers as a good place for families much more than it currently is. Day-care, school, safety and convenient distances are the luxury of daily life in Joensuu.

– My son goes to school in Kanervala where the teaching gradually increases the emphasis on the English language year by year. When I look at my fourth-grader now, I can already see the international learning environment bearing fruit!

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä-Ässä