Working as a female immigrant in the predominantly male software development field

I’m apparently the only non-native as well as the only female working as a developer for Trineria so far.The work itself is rarely boring and always challenging. There’s been steep learning curves.

After graduating from a Full Stack developer programme, I started looking for work in Finland. For a bit of perspective, I was a 25-year-old Vietnamese woman with a business background and only a few months of developer experience through an internship. Realistically speaking, the chances of someone like me landing a developer job were pretty slim.

Maybe a bit of a defeatist attitude, but it didn’t stop me from setting out on my journey of finding a new career. That’s how I ended up finding Trineria too. I applied with the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” mindset and was thrilled to get an interview. I could really feel the sincerity from everyone during our conversation, and what a boost in motivation it was to get accepted for the role of Junior Software Developer in April of 2021.

The Finnish language has been the biggest challenge

I’m apparently the only non-native as well as the only female working as a developer for Trineria so far. It’s an interesting situation, and some of my friends and family were quite surprised, worrying if I’d be able to fit in. To be honest, it’s been both easy as well as difficult at times.

The biggest challenge for me has definitely been the language barrier. I’m proficient enough in Finnish for casual conversation but this doesn’t always cut it for work. My vocabulary, listening comprehension, and speaking abilities aren’t really enough for fast-paced conversation yet. But everyone’s been really considerate and supportive, and no-one’s been bothered by having to switch languages every now and again. Sometimes I may not understand something, or things need to be made explicitly clear. Those are the times when I need English. Finnish is still the main language at the workplace and becoming fluent is one of my goals.

Everyone’s opinion carries weight regardless of who you are

Maybe you’d think there’d been at least some problems with gender discrimination or things of that sort, but I’ve experienced none of that. At Trineria, everyone’s wishes and opinions are taken into account. I’m very happy to work in a place like this.

When I started working here, all of my talented team members and my own lack of experience really made me push myself hard in order to feel useful. I had some real problems with being overly critical of myself, but luckily I’ve since gotten over it. Now, thanks to the efforts of my team, I’m able to trust myself and my communication with the team has improved immensely.

Vietnamese and Finnish cultures – like the Sun and the Moon

The cultural differences between Vietnam and Finland are pretty stark. Here in Finland, there’s lots of space and not nearly as many people when compared to just Ho Chi Minh City, a single city of almost ten million people.

Climate is another big difference. Summers in Finland are like moderate winters in HCMC. The temperatures affect how people live and behave. In my home city, the streets are already full of people at 6am. People spend more time outside and tend to be more talkative as well.

What comes to my mind when thinking about Vietnam is street food and entrepreneurship, at least when it comes to the big cities. Nearly every street is packed with shops and stalls. Everyone is selling something. In the neighbourhood where my family lives, almost all necessities are a walking distance away: grocery shops, electronics stores, beauty salons, you name it. I’m actually not sure what it’s like to work in Vietnam since I haven’t experienced it myself. Things might’ve changed while I’ve been away, too. As far as I know, everyone works hard and tries their best though.

I’ve gradually grown accustomed to life in Finland. I fell in love with the nature and the tranquillity. I also love how I can have so much time and space to myself. I’ve been sampling the offerings of Finnish cuisine too. I’m not a picky eater but I still need a few more goes at salmiakki and mämmi. Those are definitely acquired tastes!

Despite some steep learning curves my team has always been there for me

It’s been almost two years since my journey with Trineria began and the future is looking bright. The bonds between me and my team have grown stronger and we’re very comfortable working with each other. The work itself is rarely boring and always challenging. There’s been some steep learning curves but, looking back, I’ve grown so much as a developer from where I was a year and a half ago.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without everyone at Trineria who have guided, supported, and encouraged me. Even when I’ve been doubting myself, my colleagues have been there to offer their support. I’m constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of a community where people appreciate each other. It really motivates me, and I want to grow stronger and better, for both myself and for Trineria.


The author of this blog, Phuong Laitinen, works as a Junior Software Developer at Trineria.




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