Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

A startup conference and volunteering

Today I’d like to tell about a large European startup conference and volunteering.

I like to attend professional events and conferences and have been searching for some kind of them here in Lappeenranta. I found an enterpreneurship society called LUTES and I’ve got to know that it hosts entrepreneurship events at a Startup Sauna by inviting guests from business world such as businessmen and investors.

A startup conference in Helsinki called SLUSH

One day I received a weekly newsletter from LUTES which contained infromation about the biggest annual conference among Nordic countries held in Helsinki and called Slush. This is a non-profitable large event aimed to bring business people together in order to help them in building new connections. So I applied as a volunteer at the Slush conference.

Conference’s insights and what was on

There were many different companies from the video and gaming industry, newly startups and already existing businesses (for exapmle, Nokia, Tekes and Supercell which is a company number one in the worldwide gaming industry) and also investment companies. There were more than 2500 attendees at the conference. Companies were searching for investors while investors were searching for interesting companies. “We usually search for companies with a good potential to go global”, said some investors to me. In addition to this new startups competed with each other in order to get a prize for the best sales presentation.

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 Left: President of Estonia gives a welcome speech. Right: Discussions among speakers about most actual topics.

What to do there as a student?

Of course, the main players of the conference were professionals: business owners, executives, investors. So it might seem for students “what is ther for me?”. However there were many students, media, and core of event organization – volunteering team which I belonged to.

It’s not a career day and the employment of people is not a main goal but still it’s possible to find a job there. At least to get to know more about business and define own level comparing to real internatioal level: what I can do, what are my abilities. And how do people make agreements and discussions. For me it was also very good practical experience to be part of the event: there were many successful people, and I learned many things from them.

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 Left: Audience of conference. Right: Even at such serious event there is place to relax.

What did I learn from these event?

As a volunteer I learned the organization and management of such a huge event. But also from the event itself I learned what it means to be active and presentable to people in the right and ethical way. There are many books on the market and coaches that advice on how to be successful and so on. So easy to read. However, I also found some rules and guidlines for myself from practice and comparting to what is written in books… they are right but own experience is much better. So here are these “rules”:

1. Never ever interupt people while they are talking.

2. Be always good looking and success oriented (never give up).

3. Never start convesation from selling yourself. If you want to talk to investor for instance, ask first what are the interests of this person.

4. Be prepared in advance. Because this may happen: “I know these people are of high value and I see they are right people for me but don’t know any info about them and this is the only chance to see them”.

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Left: Conference’s entance. It’s former cable factory. Right: In the audience hall

Some words about volunteering and Finnish organizing practice

Volunteering gives good opportunities to access many areas where other people cannot access, it gives many opportunities to see what is exactly inside and get to know people: backstage, VIP lounge, pitch talks, roundtables. But of course volunteering is a job. So it’s a must to do job proper, be responsible for the results.

As a volunteer I learned the organization and management of such a huge event. And the conference overall was really well organized. I like Finnish style of business working: no compromises, no emotions and nerves, just right and proper actions. And everything was going well.

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.


  1. Christian 16.6.2014 at 04:19

    Excellent web site. Lots of useful info here.
    I’m sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious.
    And of course, thank you in your effort!

  2. Camila 16.10.2014 at 00:27


    Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but I’m volunteering this year in Slush and while trying to do a budget for the whole week (without counting accommodation, that is thankfully already fixed by my university) I wanted to know your expenses and the money you spent on that week (if that’s okay with you):

    Did Slush give free food to volunteers?
    If not, out of your experience how much money did you usually spend in food? And in transportation? Any other expenses you can think of?

    Thank you very much,
    Camila Rubio.

    • Aysulu 4.11.2014 at 00:55

      Hi Camila, Slush will be in two weeks, so I hope my answer is still relevant. In my experience we have been provided with free meal. And we also had a free transport from the LUT. I’ve stayed only two days, days of the conference but there are more events outside this scope.

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