St. Petersburg, home to some 500 Finnish companies, is the main draw. But Russian firms are also showing an interest in Finnish candidates.
"At first I thought I’d just stay for a year," said Maria Riivari, a law student in St Petersburg. Her skills are in high demand as a Finnish lawyer versed in Russian law.
Lauri Veijalainen, a director for Stockmann’s international operations, says competition for professional staff is stiff in Russia.
"Experts’ salaries are higher in Russia than they are in Finland," explained Veijalainen.
This fact seems to have caught on. Olli Viemerö, an exchange student from Turku, said his primary motivation to study Russian was to find a job in the country after graduation.
Tommi Wetterstrand, another Finnish student in St. Petersburg, said the best takeaway would be a Russian network of contacts.
Red tape prevents Finnish companies from importing more of their countrymen as summer hires. The one hundred or so people coming to work this summer reflect a small fraction of the real need, according to Petri Vuorio, who chairs a club representing Finnish companies in St. Petersburg.
"The work permit and visa process for Finnish summer workers is too long and difficult, and this deters recruitment," he said.
But dealing with the bureaucracy is worthwhile in the end, according to Vuorio.
"Spending the summer in Russia gives a real feel for international business. You learn to deal with cultural differences and work in a multicultural environment," he summed up.