We launched our new talent programme in November last year which has been gaining momentum ever since. Originally designed for people receiving unemployment benefits through the TE-Office, the programme is now available to anyone with a keen eye on startups, who is willing to commit for the duration of the programme.
We had a chat with three of our current candidates about their personal experiences of The Shortcut and what they have got out of the programme so far…
How did you find out about the Catalyst Programme, Joh?
I was signed up for the School of Startups and in the registration form, it asked what my employment status was, at the time, I was unemployed and receiving benefits from the TE-Office, and on the basis of this information and my interest in entrepreneurship and The Shortcut’s events, I got a call out of the blue from The Shortcut’s Community and Talent Engagement Manager, Duong, inviting me to the info session and when I saw what it was all about I thought ‘let’s do this’, this was actually the sort of thing I was waiting for. Then I applied, and here I am.
How does the Catalyst Programme fit in with your career goals?
It kind of came at a good time because I was looking to change careers and this opportunity gave me a chance to reinvent myself because I’ve been thinking about starting my own business for a while now. Now, I have people to interact with and a network, which has grown exponentially and an actual project which could become a business or something even bigger.
What kind of things can you do on the Catalyst Programme?
I get to utilise my skills in ways that I haven’t been able to before, whether that’s for tech, towards entrepreneurship or whatever. We’re all getting to practice things in areas that we were interested in before but now we get to use and develop them in a more practical way, like through taking part in projects so that we can actively add to our skillsets.
You don’t have to be into tech to find your place here, what’s needed is more of a willingness to experiment and to do something new. You can make what may have been your hobbies or a passing interest part of your work.
Can you talk about some of the workshops on the programme that have made an impression?
The peer to peer coaching session — that was something that I’d never done before, but it was very helpful, not only do you get coached by your peers but you also learn how to coach your peers, how to stay positive and how to reform your questions. The peer-coaching card game by Nurtup was a very powerful tool, and you definitely got the chance to learn-by-doing by following the instructions on the cards and everybody checks if you’re following the instructions but in a very loose and non-stressful way. That’s also another thing that I came here to learn (besides the technical things like coding and using social media), communicating with your team and with other networks effectively.
Another workshop that stood out was the business model canvas (because I’m currently trying to start a business with a team that I met here at The Shortcut) where we got input from the wider community which was very helpful.
Would you recommend the Catalyst programme to others? If so, why?
Yes, for so many reasons. You can truly reinvent yourself, if you find yourself in a rut and if you feel that what you’ve been doing before isn’t working anymore, if you’re tired of your old job or fed up of not getting a job (both were true for me) and if you’re proactive enough, you really have full range of what you put your mind to. You can influence the community and the community can influence you, you can share your ideas and receive and give feedback. You can make your ideas expand and grow with the support of others, I think that’s exciting. If this is the kind of thing you want, this is the right place.
How did you find out about the Catalyst Programme, Natalia?
I found out about the programme from the facebook page. The programme’s purpose is to unlock potential by helping you to acquire new skills through workshops and training sessions. You also get to network and meet lots of interesting people within the startup eco-system and consider whether you want to work on your own business idea or work for a startup, so the aim of the programme is to facilitate this.
What motivated you to sign up?
Since I arrived in Finland, I’ve been hitting many walls, it’s been difficult to find a job, I guess the language is a big barrier and I felt I wanted to do something will all my energy and my skills so I thought this would be a good opportunity.
What can you achieve on the programme?
Many things, it depends on your objectives… if you are willing to work on your own business idea, the shortcut will guide you and help you access what you need to move forward with your idea. If you want to work for a startup, you will get access to useful contacts and information. Also, if you are looking to learn something new or get some inspiration and motivation and work with many talented people, this is the place to be.
What are your personal goals for the programme?
I like the idea of getting to work for a startup, my aim is to find a full-time job that I really enjoy. I am very passionate about beer for example.
Do you feel you’ve benefitted from the training opportunities?
I’m pretty satisfied so far. I really liked Joppe from Arctic Startup’s workshop on non-violent communication. We also had Hajnalka from Nurtup come in with a peer-coaching card-game called “The Hero”, which made you ask yourself basic questions to get to the route of your motivations and to help you see more clearly where you want to go.
Who would you recommend the Catalyst Programme to?
People who have an interest in learning new things. I didn’t even know what a startup was before I came here, I’m not tech-savvy but you don’t have to be. What’s most important is coming in with a positive attitude.
Where did you hear about The Shortcut, Sairam?
I heard about The Shortcut on Facebook through some of their events. A friend from my Finnish class who did an internship there later suggested that I should join as a volunteer and that’s how I ended up here.
Have you been able to make use of your existing skills here?
I have a background in pharmaceutical sciences and after moving to Helsinki I found it’s very difficult to find a job in my field without knowing the language. I’m good at networking so I’ve been able to use those skills. I’ve been in the group for quite a short period but I’ve already helped to organise a LinkedIn workshop; I’ve been using it actively for 6–7 years and have got jobs through it so I was asked to get involved and learnt many new things about event production through putting on this event. I am looking to get into something new if there is no chance of finding work in my field and The Shortcut is a good platform to experiment. I have been working on a project with some people at The Shortcut, it’s still at the ideation stage but in the next couple of months we’ll be preparing to present it to potential investors and seeing if it has the potential to develop into an actual startup.
How has your participation in the Catalyst Programme brought you closer to achieving your goals?
There are people here with so many different skills, so if you would like to learn new skills or develop the ones you have, there are people you can ask to help you and coach you, which is really useful. You get to do a lot of teamwork, which can help change the way you think about things when you hear new ideas and you get a different perspective on the same problem whereas usually you would only consider your own perspective. So that’s how being part of this community might help you see your problem from a different angle which could help you to solve it actually.
If you feel our Catalyst Programme might be just the thing for you or someone you know, we wholeheartedly encourage you to visit our page at http://theshortcut.org/catalystprogramme/ for more information.
**This article was updated on 21.09.2018 as the Talent Programme’s name was changed to the Catalyst Programme.**
By Alessia Lee –