Alrighty! Now I’m already in Switzerland completing my exchange studies and I will tell you guys more about how’s everything been here in a couple of months. But first let’s start by summarizing my summer in Italy and the practical training I did there.
I’ve got to admit – I can still remember how it felt when I arrived to Genoa Airport after spending the night on the floor at Copenhagen Airport; very tired but extremely excited. I received a phone call from my colleague that he is on his way to pick me up. And luckily he was picking me up, since my luggage was still on its way from Copenhagen to Italy and I was able to get some translation assistance. We managed to sort things out and eventually I received my stuff in a couple of days.
I started my journey in Genoa as a business intern in a worldwide known company Outokumpu. This Finnish stainless steel giant has a lot of business operations in Italy, since Italy is the second biggest market in stainless steel sales in Europe.
Hopefully some day I don’t have to fake entering a Ferrari, haha!
In Genoa, Outokumpu has their Italy’s head office. During the first month I was circulated between for example HR, Direct sales, Credit and Technical Department. With direct sales I was able to visit a lot of different customers all around the Northern area of Italy. Business negotiating, seeing their factories including machinery processes and having lunch with them afterwards were experiences that opened my eyes a lot. Theory and practice are different from each other, but they are still connected and go hand in hand. Without the theory I had sucked in like a sponge during office days, I would not have understood all the stuff I was able to see in practice and vice versa.
It was impossible to be disappointed with the delicious food and dishes served during lunches and dinners.
I spent one week at the Treviso office, which is very close to Venice. My Trevisian colleagues took me there one night and we did an awesome pub tour and laughed a lot!
After the first month I moved to Castelleone, where Outokumpu has a service centre. Long story short, Castelleone service center has mainly two purposes. First one is to produce from the heavy stainless steel coils smaller pieces called sheets. They also have a plasma cutter to work enormous quarto plates into the desired shapes. The second purpose is to work as a smaller warehouse to provide stainless steel for distributors etc. when they’re in a hurry. In Castelleone I spent two months. I travelled all around Northern Italy meeting customers and their factories with different sales managers and field sales people (Also in Castelleone I traveled around the Northern Italy since Outokumpu has agents in the South). I counted that I met more or less 65 different customers and also factories with most of them. If I compare how I did at the first customer and how I did at the last, the difference is huge. I opened myself so much and the knowledge I gathered regarding customer policies and stainless steel industry through those visits is remarkable.
My leisure time was mostly all about relaxing, exploring the nearby places, sun tanning, reading books and spending time with a few close colleagues. After a rough week touring around Northern Italy you just wanted to charge the batteries and give some time for yourself.
I had also visitors during my stay in Genoa and Castelleone! My sister and her boyfriend came to see me in Genoa and we had a blast! I showed them the city and during the evenings we watched the Hockey World Championship games and chilled.
Me and my girlfriend Milla. We arranged an extended weekend in Milan where we did a lot of shopping, went to Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, walked around the beautiful Milan streets, fine and dined and just enjoyed the short, but fantastic time together.
My last visitors to see me were my parents, who came by motorcycle all the way from Tornio to Castelleone. We spent a nice and lovely week together by chilling the evenings around the poolside, visiting a nearby city Crema and also Milan. In Milan we did of course a little bit of shopping, haha.
There were many similarities but also differences compared to the Finnish working culture. We have to remember that the company is indeed Finnish, but the blue- and white-collar workers in Italy were Italian (excluding a few employees). From the very beginning I felt very welcomed and people seemed very happy all the time. In Finland I have felt myself welcomed too in different jobs, but the Italian culture makes it slightly more warm. In the attitude of the employees I saw similarities – hard working people with a certain goal to approach. Is the punctuality in Outokumpu Italy inherited from the Finnish culture or is there a natural tendency for it, I could not say. Nevertheless, all the people I met during those 3 months, colleagues and customers, they all made my stay one of the best experiences I’ve had so far.