Seeking an internship: Nia Sullivan
What’s your name and where are you from and how did you end up in Finland?
My name is Nia, and I’m originally from Seattle, Washington. However, I’ve lived all over the United States. I ended up in Finland because of my partner, who is Finnish. We actually met in Cape Town during my internship in South Africa. After that, I moved around Africa while maintaining a long-distance relationship with him. I eventually got a job in Sierra Leone, where he would come to visit me for a month at a time. I realised that I want to move to Finland when I came here to see him, and I fell in love with the country—the saunas, the swimming, everything. So, in September 2019, I made the decision to move here.
As someone with a diverse background, what aspects of your cultural background have you brought with you to Finland?
One of the main things I’ve brought with me is a sense of community and a focus on improving the welfare of the community. This value has been instilled in me by my family, and I carried it with me when I moved to Finland. Despite arriving just before the COVID-19 pandemic, I made an effort to get involved in different communities, which has had a significant impact on both my social life and career.
Could you tell us a bit more about your study and working background?
I have a bachelor’s in social work and sociology, which naturally fosters a community-focused mindset, and I’m still learning from that background to this day.
While studying, I worked in the non-profit sector, engaging with the community through office work, lectures, workshops, and partnerships with various organizations from universities in Pittsburgh and neighboring cities. I also did an internship with a human rights organization, which sparked my interest in human rights outreach. Later, I took a job in community engagement for a women’s entrepreneurship program based in North Carolina, where I focused on helping women overcome obstacles and develop solutions. Then, I moved to South Africa for an internship at a charity for former street girls, which further built my social work experience.
In Sierra Leone, I worked as a social worker in partnership with UNICEF, supporting girls’ access to education and addressing obstacles such as female genital mutilation and child marriage. This experience made me realise my passion for human rights and the profound impact it has on people’s lives.
How did you find jobs in Finland?
I moved to Finland and took on various jobs, including substitute teaching at a kindergarten, working at a restaurant, and babysitting.
Eventually, I found my place at THINK Africa, an organization based in Helsinki. It’s been transformative for me, and it has allowed me to pursue my interest in female entrepreneurship. There I’ve been in a project coordinating role, and I’m happy that I could execute my own ideas and apply my learnings from different fields.
Moreover, I’ve been actively involved with various organizations, such as being elected as the General Secretary of THINK Africa and completing an internship with Amnesty International. These experiences have allowed me to engage in activism, outreach, research, and writing, particularly in the areas of social exclusion and gender studies. I’ve also developed an interest in marketing and how it can be utilized in non-profit settings.
And I just graduated from Social exclusion and inclusivity studies, minoring in gender studies from Åbo university.
Could you share a surprising fact about yourself?
Well, I’m not sure if it’s surprising to anyone, but I do a lot of running. In fact, I signed up for a half marathon, and I’m addicted to it. As a child, I admired athletic women and their drive, so I challenged myself to become more athletic. It was in Sierra Leone that I ran my first running event and realized I could do it. Since then, I’ve been running more frequently.
Through my work with Amnesty International, my supervisor even hired me to organize a running event called “Run to Sauna” in Lapinlahti. Initially, there were only two participants, but now we have so many people interested that we need to manage sign-ups. It has created a wonderful community, and I’m also involved with an organization called Miitti, which promotes mental health for foreigners in Lapinlahti.
Another surprising fact is that I’m vegan, and I’m very passionate about it, although I only have one vegan friend. However, my other friends love my vegan cooking.
Could you tell us about how you found out about Herizon and your journey in pursuing marketing and copywriting?
I have a strong interest in expanding my knowledge in communications, marketing, and copywriting. I’ve been actively searching for jobs and training opportunities in marketing and have a desire to create a career in this field. Ideally, I’m looking for a position that allows me to learn about marketing in a non-profit context or in a way that connects with non-profit work.
I came across Herizon through LinkedIn, which I hadn’t been very active on until recently. I’ve been working on enhancing my profile and becoming more engaged with the platform. One of the people I connected with shared a list of organizations, and Herizon stood out to me. I became very curious and interested in learning more about it as it aligned with what I was searching for.
I believe Herizon has the potential to provide me with valuable knowledge and skills in marketing and copywriting, which align with my career goals. I’m excited about the opportunities it can offer me.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future?
I’m staying in Finland and actively searching for a job. I will also start courses in growth hacking next week, as I enjoy exploring various fields and gaining diverse knowledge. I’ll continue my involvement on the board of THINK Africa. Furthermore, I plan to apply to a doctoral program and explore opportunities to apply my marketing skills. I’m currently looking for English courses in marketing from universities. Additionally, I’m seeking a mentor in copywriting, particularly for human rights-related projects. My boyfriend’s brother is a copywriter, and I’m keen to learn from him. Ideally, I would love to use my copywriting skills in non-profit settings.
What do you do to stay motivated and positive when faced with challenges?
Although I face challenges and experience rejection at times, I remain optimistic about the future. I envision myself being in Finland for the long term and tap into my optimism to overcome obstacles. It’s important for me to approach things strategically and have a plan in place to maintain a positive outlook. I’m grateful for the opportunities that come my way and understand that there will be ups and downs, but I’m committed to pushing forward.
LinkedIn used to give me anxiety, and I used to avoid using it. However, I’ve learned to embrace those feelings and express myself confidently on my profile. This has made me feel less self-doubt and more focused on how my experiences can bring value to others.
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