Born in mexico Deborah Berebichez was already living “the dream”: as a doctor of physics at Stanford University in California, with a job as a leading data scientist in New York, a spouse and two children, and as a facilitator from a science television show on the Discovery Channel.
Berebichez only knew one person from Finland, an acquaintance called Ulla.
One day, Ulla shared a post on Facebook that caught Berebichez’s attention. Finland was looking for tech specialists to test life in Helsinki for three months.
Berebichez wondered if it would be possible to achieve a better work-life balance by moving to Finland, especially since her busy life in New York meant that she had very little free time. to devote to his newborn daughter.
“Usually I would come home from work after 8:30 pm, so I could only spend about half an hour with my daughter on weeknights,” she recalls.
Berebichez has decided, together with 5,300 other applicants from all over the world, to apply for the “90 Day Finn” program organized by Helsinki Business Hub (HBH). It aims to attract foreign expertise to Finland and improve the country’s reputation as a place to work.
The large number of applications surprised HBH, as the program is far from a free vacation trip to Finland. Participants must pay their own travel and living expenses in the city. In return, HBH helps successful applicants settle in Finland, helping them with issues such as finding an apartment and arranging childcare.
“The ongoing initiative invites entrepreneurs, investors and tech enthusiasts to spend 90 days in Finland, with 15 lucky applicants receiving guided links to housing, childcare, schools, workspace and a program for connect them to Helsinki’s tech ecosystem, ”according to the program’s website.
The story continues after the photo.
During the three-month stay, each participant attends networking events, selected according to their interests.
“A personal program is made for everyone. If, for example, an investor is interested in the Finnish gaming industry and its opportunities, gaming industry events will be selected for him”, HBH Business Director Johanna huurre Explain.
To Berebichez’s surprise, she was one of 15 lucky candidates to be selected for the 2021 summer promotion, which includes private investors, start-ups and university representatives from North America, Chile, Singapore. , UK and Italy. The common denominator was a link with the technological field.
“I have decided to trust my destiny”
Berebichez told Yle her life in New York revolves around work. Her firstborn was only three weeks old when asked to attend a business event that required a flight across the United States.
Berebichez said she loved her job, but at the same time, she yearned for a life more in line with her values, where the family of four could focus on time spent together while ensuring good health care and a good education to his children.
When the call finally came for Berebichez to try life as a Helsinki resident, she was nervous but decided to take the plunge.
“I decided to trust my fate and quit my job. We gave up our rental apartment in New York City, as well as our childcare spaces,” Berebichez said.
The family of four arrived in Finland in May, earlier than other program participants, who are not expected to arrive until August.
At first the move seemed to be going very well as the weather at the end of spring was very favorable and Berebichez landed his first job offer from a Finnish company within a few weeks.
“Then reality hit. The salary level was way below what we expected. We thought we could earn half of our salaries in New York. We did not expect that the salary would be that of. a fifth, “Berebichez recalled, adding that she and her physicist spouse would have liked to work in Finland for a few years, but don’t want to have to increase budgets the same way they did when they were students.
Resident permit difficulties hamper internationalization
Huurre points to the added pressure of the residence permit process, telling Yle that it is contradictory to make efforts to attract experts to Finland when big investments disappear when residence permits are not issued quickly enough.
“We are fighting tooth and nail to interest companies in Helsinki, but if the founders cannot get a residence permit, it is wasted work,” said Huurre.
The story continues after the photo.
Participants in the “90 Day Finn” program do not intend to settle permanently in Finland, but HBH hopes that the initiative will give the capital and the country some international visibility as participants return to their countries. of origin and share their experiences within their own networks.
“We also want to learn from the participants how they experience Helsinki: what is good here and what things we should invest more in,” added Huurre.
A Finnish future in the making
Some participants have already expressed their interest in setting up businesses in Finland, including Berebichez.
“I feel like I am developing professionally in Helsinki. I have already accomplished a lot,” she explained.
Her time in the Finnish capital also helped her fulfill her dream of spending more time with her family. Berebichez has already developed a weakness for places such as the islands off the coast of Helsinki and swimming in the famous Allas Sea Pool.
The family hopes to find long-term work and stay in Helsinki. However, if they return to New York, Berebichez said they intend to live more in line with the Finnish lifestyle in the future.
Berebichez also said that knowing what she knows now, life in New York will be very different.
“Oh my God, I would do things so differently in New York now! I would lead a much calmer life because I realized what kind of stress I was living there and it wasn’t good for it. my health, “Berebichez told Yle. .