Sahil Shah was 20 years old, when he moved to a country that has less inhabitants than his hometown Ahmedabad. After few years he has a degree, a job and a happiness of a different kind.
I like the element of uncertainty in things, and I like to take risks. I didn’t know anything about Finland, but I knew it was very different here, and so I decided to explore something uncommon. I also got admissions in Ireland, United States and the Netherlands, but they would have been the more usual options.
The fact that Finnish education is the best was an attraction for me. Also, most of the people here can speak English, and vegetarian food is served at the universities, which is very important. I am a vegetarian, like 30% of Indians.
I am originally from Ahmedabad, a city of 7,5 million people. I was 20 when I left India to come here. My family was worried. However, I am very social and open-minded, so things have been quite smooth for me. When I see and learn new things, I make myself at home. I am not sure where I got this predilection to uncertainty. It just gives me happiness of a different kind.
Finns have surprised me for being so quiet and not very social. It takes time for them to open up, but after that they are very friendly and interesting people. It was amazing how much help I got at HAMK. For example, when I was new in Finland, the head of the department, Jussi Horelli, helped me to bring some furniture in his trailer to my place.
I finished my required studies in mechanical engineering in 2,5 years and then went for Erasmus in Germany for one year. On weekends, I worked part-time at Scandic Hotel in Riihimäki. Studies were easy for me, and I was motivated because the studies were more practical and work-oriented. That is the real advantage of studying at a university of applied sciences instead of at an academic university. Studies like FEM (finite element method) and 3D modelling helped me get a job. I started looking for a job before graduation so I would have a head start against other graduates looking for work. That is how I had already worked half a year at Valmet Automotive before I got my degree in summer 2019.
It was not that easy to find a job as an English speaker, but my confidence helped me in getting one. I spoke some Finnish in the job interview since I believe it is important to show a willingness to learn. My employer has arranged personal Finnish lessons for me every week, which is a great.
“It was amazing how much help I got at HAMK.”
At Valmet Automotive’s product development department, I have quite a broad job description – developing battery packs for electric cars and designing tooling for robots for our Uusikaupunki car plant. Currently, I am working on designing tooling for a new electric car model for Mercedes Benz. Besides the automotive sector, customers can be anything from nuclear power plants to furniture factories. An understanding of mechanics is needed everywhere, and the variety of tasks fascinates me.
My current job is pretty much what I’ve been aiming for. My father is also a mechanical engineer, and that has inspired me. I’ve always wanted to have something to do with cars and machines. I’m social but not a party guy. My dearest hobby is travelling. I usually love solo travelling, and I always stay at hostels so I’ll get to know people from different cultures with the same attitude as mine. It is great when you don’t know who you will meet and what will happen. I also like investing, cooking, nature walks and going to sauna. A Finn might forget to go to sauna; I never will. I love Finnish rye bread. It’s not the same anywhere else, and it’s more flavourful than white bread.
If it were my first day in Finland, I would say to myself: Definitely go for it, but with some proper winter clothes! Summers are the best here, and they recharge you to face winter. With the right winter clothing, the winters are fine. I like the darkness in winter; it gives me peace.
In five years, I see myself in a leadership role. I can start a business of my own in engineering after I have gained a few years of experience in management. It is important to count on yourself in life and have confidence in your abilities. If the problems are created by us, they can surely be solved by us.”
Mechanical engineer from Häme University of Applied Sciences.
Studies take place at the Riihimäki campus.
Works as a mechanical engineer at Valmet Automotive in Turku.
Text JAANA SILJAMÄKI Photo JARKKO VIITASAARI