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The library of essays of Proakatemia

International team – Pros and Cons



Kirjoittanut: Kiia Räty - tiimistä Kaaos.

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Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 6 minuuttia.

 

My story at Proakatemia is a little bit different from others. Let me tell you why.  

 

I started my journey as a student here over a year ago in August 2022. I had applied to the Finnish side, and luckily was accepted there. It was such a relief to get into my dream school. First autumn we had these basic courses with our class, such as business mathematics and business law. Those courses were interesting, but I can speak for everyone by saying that the upcoming team division was on everyone’s minds. Meaning, we would be split into two teams in December, and we would be working in those same team companies for the rest of our studies. 

 

Couple weeks before the team division we were offered a chance to change from Finnish side to English side. The idea immediately sparked my interest, but I was still hesitant: will this be the biggest mistake? Will I ruin my whole Proakatemia experience by doing this? No one had answers to these, so I had to take a risk. I know myself well, so I know that I regret more things that I don’t do, than the things that I do. So I transferred. Now, we have this team company called Kaaos Projects. Our team wanted to choose a different name, one that raises opinions, and the name definitely does that. We have members from many different countries, and the ride has not been easy. I’m going to tell you now the pros and cons of being in an international team. Of course, everyone’s journey is different, but this is from my own perspective. 

 

PROS 

 

The main reason why I transferred to the English side, is the language. I have always been very interested in learning English, because it’s the language that you can speak everywhere. It’s the path to get to know people all around the world. To know their stories. To connect. And what is a better way to learn a language than using it every day? This is a golden opportunity to actually become professional in English, not just knowing how to talk about weather or how to order a meal in a restaurant. Owning or doing some kind of an international business is my long-term goal, so I know that I need to learn English on a deeper level. I was always good at it. For example, I went on a language course in London when I was only 17. Speaking English has been natural to me, but now I need to take my knowledge to another level.  

 

Using a different language in a team almost daily makes you learn it a lot faster. But there’s something else that we learn every day: understanding different accents. Because we have members from all around the world, we also have many different accents. It’s a privilege to hear different ways to speak English, because it allows you to learn it better. For example, if you always watch movies in American English, understanding British English can become challenging. This is the situation with me. I rarely hear British accent, so even though the language is English, it’s still hard for me to understand. 

 

Multicultural team is such a great way to learn about different cultures and religions. I personally am very interested in learning about different ways to live and learning other people’s stories. Meeting someone from a different culture widens your way of seeing the world. You learn to be more understanding and patient. You learn that having any kind of expectations leads you nowhere. You realize that you have to have an open mind and you have to be willing to compromise in order to make different cultures work together in one team. These kinds of teachings are important to me, and I will carry them for the rest of my life. Also of course, having friends from all around the world is a huge privilege and we can all help each other also in the future.  

 

There is no denying that the future in Finland (and in other countries) is multicultural. Immigration, traveling and other factors are mixing our cultures together more and more. And I think that’s a great thing. Learning from others is such a great way to create something new. Something that has never been done before. These times are getting darker, and our dear planet earth is facing problems like never before. The issues that we face are new, so obviously the solutions have to be new. We need innovative ideas more and more in the future, so I think that multicultural communities could play an important role in this. Sharing our knowledge and combining our forces is a necessity now, and especially in the future. I sure do want to be a part of this, don’t you?  

 

Doing something in an international team is almost always a little bit harder. I will get to the downsides soon, but I want to say this first. Even though we face difficulties, we also learn a lot. After all, we are still in a school, and a school is a place for learning, right? I feel like staying on the Finnish side would’ve been “an easy way out”. I have always wanted to push myself to my limits and to try new and challenging things. This is the way that I like to live, so transferring to the English side was the right choice for me.

 

CONS 

 

The language is the first point on the pros-list and now on the cons-list. Using a language that is not your first language is challenging in a good way, but also in a bad way. We founded a real company with a group of people that we don’t really know. We are all very different from each other and we come from different cultures with different upbringings. The thing that brought us together was this school and the English language. It’s the language that we use to communicate and guess what: it’s none of our first language. So, as you can already tell, doing business and running a company together is challenging because of the language barrier. Communication is maybe our team’s biggest issue. Language barrier and different accents make it hard to sometimes understand each other verbally. What kind of communication is natural for you? Is it rude to interrupt, or is it normal to speak up immediately when something comes to your mind? Do you prefer calm conversations, or do you need an energetic atmosphere? On top of this comes the non-verbal and written communication. These differ also a lot depending on what culture you are from.  

 

Using a language that doesn’t come as naturally to you as your native one, also makes storytelling harder. At least for me. Telling long stories with different twists and turns requires a lot of thinking even as you go. Making your point is a lot easier when using your native language. These moments can lead to misunderstandings. Also, I want to mention giving feedback. Are you from a culture where you give straight feedback or are you more used to suppressing your thoughts and feelings? Being in an international team, we have to manage and navigate with these things all the time. 

 

Besides communication, also cultural differences are a hot topic. In the spring we quickly realized how different for example our understanding of time is. Some of us come from a culture where 8am means 8am sharp, but for others 8am could mean 8:30am. It’s just a question, what you are used to. It doesn’t mean that any of us are wrong. Also, manners, behavior and hierarchy are some things that I’ve been observing. Again, none of us are necessarily wrong, but we are just used to different things. Navigating between these basic things makes building a somewhat successful business a lot harder. First, we had to learn to understand each other and our behavior. After that we started to talk money.  

 

SUMMARY 

 

Managing a multicultural team can be challenging, and there are some things that we have to keep in mind. Forbes’ article 10 Steps To Get The Most Out Of Your Multicultural Team (2023) reminds us that in a multicultural team we should for example avoid single-culture bias and stereotypes. After all, there are many different cultures in a team, and none of those are above others. Taking all cultures and habits into consideration is only fair, but also motivates people and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Team should also handle criticism and feedback with care. As I mentioned before, there’s different ways to give and receive feedback, so we should have open communication in a team about how we like to manage these situations. (Forbes, 2023). 

 

All in all, being a member in an international team company is very interesting. Even though we differ as individuals, there’s something deeper that brings us together. We all are open-minded people. We want to learn and become better every day. We want to hear each other’s stories and that way widen our perspectives of the world. We want to find our own passions and to make the world a little bit better place, by for example starting our own business. There are so many things that make our team beautiful and I really enjoy our journey together.  

 

 

 

SOURCES

 

Forbes. Mursal Hedayat. 10 Steps To Get The Most Out Of Your Multicultural Team. 30.6.2023. Website. Referred 22.10.2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mursalhedayat/2020/06/30/10-steps-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-multicultural-team/?sh=3e0269523d0c  

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