When presented with a Venture Client Internship opportunity, Sebastian Lier Hagen took the chance and moved from Oslo, Norway, to join the Foundry team in Helsinki. We sat down to discuss how he enjoyed his new job and hometown.
It didn’t take much for Sebastian to move when he spotted a career opportunity aligned with his long-term goal. As a cosmopolitan individual, moving within the Nordics was a no-brainer for him.
“I didn’t have a special focus on Finland in mind. It was all about the right job profile,” Sebastian explains. He spotted a post in an international student group on Facebook and was immediately intrigued by the job description.
But no matter how intense the pull is, moving to a new hometown is never a light decision. Let’s start at the beginning of Sebastian’s journey to the land of a thousand lakes…
WHERE TO LEARN HOW COMPANIES GROW?
“My initial interest was in management consulting,” Sebastian says. “Through that, I realized there was plenty to learn about their methodology and frameworks, which allow them to deal with any situation that comes at them. I was curious about how this is applied to growing a business.”
Like many working in innovation, Sebastian was inspired to look further into entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem by ideas that will shape the future. Before long, he was already working at growth companies.
“I did an internship with a Norwegian startup, working with their European expansion strategy,” he says. “I’ve also worked freelancing with a Danish EV startup expanding into Norway.”
COMBINING MANY INTERESTS INTO ONE ROLE
Sebastian’s long-term plan has included business development and growth management of startups; venture capital, investment, and strategy work have also piqued his interest. What surprised him was finding Foundry and realizing there might be a bit of everything on the horizon.
“I was impressed with Foundry’s broad partner network,” he recalls. “Moreover, the work seemed focused on strategically important areas and specific needs. I didn’t have much experience working with large corporations before, but learning this approach firsthand was a chance I didn’t want to miss.”
DRAWING ON AN INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF GOOD FRIENDS
The rest is history – Sebastian’s merits shone through, and he was offered one of the internship positions for Spring 2022. Now, all that had to be done was make the trip. However, the timing was spot on in this case too.
“I had planned some vacationing anyway, so I made the transition smoothly from my travels to Helsinki,” Sebastian says.
In Finland, Sebastian had some friends eager to lend a hand. He had met them during his travels and year abroad in Australia. With their help, he found an apartment in no time and even signed the lease remotely.
“I was in Copenhagen and organized the first video call with my landlord – we agreed on the terms in a subsequent call, this time in Berlin,” he laughs. “My small network made the transfer to Helsinki very easy.”
SUPPORT FROM COLLEAGUES AT THE OFFICE
Sebastian has been part of the team since the beginning of 2022 and has enjoyed his time in and out of the office.
“Of course, I came here when Covid restrictions were in place so that made settling down a bit more difficult,” he recalls. “Overall, it’s all been very familiar. Culturally, it’s what I’m used to. The main differences are the language and the abundance of saunas, and I was particularly surprised by how close to nature we are, even in central Helsinki. There are ducks and rabbits everywhere; I was not expecting that!”
Culturally, the Foundry team and office have become a great working environment in Sebastian’s eyes. He enjoys that colleagues are eager to support one another and that everyone pulls on the same rope.
“The stereotype of the startup ecosystem, the consulting world, all these places is that you work long hours by default. It’s not like that here – Foundry has a genuinely different working culture,” he says.
“A GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE TO TALK WITH DECISION-MAKERS”
The Foundry team was in a venture client cycle when Sebastian started work. He jumped right into the thick of the action and has had his role develop and expand as the year passes. He’s enjoyed seeing the process in full, from start to finish, and has been working on launching the latest active cycle.
“On top of the great working culture, the work itself has been a great experience, too,” Sebastian says. “I’ve got the opportunity to talk with the corporations and startups directly. It’s been a great learning experience to talk with the decision-makers about strategy and daily operational matters.”
So, in the end, has it been worth coming to Helsinki, Sebastian?
“Absolutely – it’s a beautiful city. It’s a nice social atmosphere, too: the people are happy and honest and don’t beat around the bush. I’m enjoying my time here.”