The International Finnish Line

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

After growing up in Washington state, graduating with a Master of Accountancy from Brigham Young University, and starting a career with one of the Big4 accounting firms in San Jose, an international career seemed distant for Jeff Jenkins. But it was always a dream of his to work globally. Here are some key points from his Cultural Conversations podcast, where he walks us through his journey to working abroad.

Work for International Opportunity

After starting with Deloitte in San Jose, Jeff made it a motto of his to “work as if I’m going to make partner.” Even if that isn’t exactly where he wanted to end up, he knew that working hard in his current position and showing a desire for progression are the best ways to have opportunities open up before you. Because of his attitude, he was quickly offered the chance to work at the national office in San Francisco.

While there, he continued to “go all in,” and work hard. He made connections with others and developed the skills he knew would come in handy with an international career. Eventually, the right opportunity came. Jeff now works at the Deloitte office in Finland.

Transitioning to International Work

After all his work, and finally making it to an international career, Jeff still holds the same attitude of “work as if I’m going to make partner.” Many carry a misconceived notion that once they reach their goal and make it globally, the hard part is over—but working internationally is not like that. Adjusting to new cultures and customs comes with many challenges.

For example, the Finnish are more reserved than most Americans; they prioritize leisure more at work, and they are very good rule followers. This can lead to miscommunication and conflict, both in public and in the workplace. It takes time and practice to adjust and learn a new cultural environment.

Finland also carries very different customs and practices. In order to form strong relationships, people often bond while relaxing in the gender-separated, public saunas. Jeff learned that we often think that the “American way is the best way.” This isn’t always the case. Refusing to adjust and participate in local customs will make you seem proud and rub locals the wrong way. Always be open to learning new traditions once you enter a global environment.

Parting Advice

Having the goal of working internationally comes with a lot of hard work–before and after the dream job comes along. It’s important to have the attitude that Jeff carries with him: always work like you plan on making it to the top. Along the way, acquire as many skills and as much knowledge as you can. Being involved early will help demystify the international world, and doing it repeatedly will make you less scared of doing it again.

To learn more about Jenkins’ experiences and tips for finding your international opportunity, listen to the full podcast here.

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