More Than the Degree

How to Slush 101

The golden ticket gleams brightly in your inbox - the confirmation letter for your participation in Slush as a volunteer! You grin, feeling the excitement rushing through your system as you realize you finally get to participate in this legendary event that everyone always gushes about. The world’s leading startup event with some of the coolest people in existence under the bright rave lights of Messukeskus, gathered together to talk business. The grin plastered on your face slowly fades as you come to a sudden realization. Meeting new people, handling unfamiliar responsibilities, going out of your comfort zone; how in the world are you supposed to be able to balance these things out?

While I’m by no means a seasoned veteran, my two-time attendance has given way to some form of wisdom I hope to bestow upon you readers. With my most recent experience being a part of the marketing team, wherein I helped manage the live stream for Slush and also hosted an Instagram takeover for Aalto, allow me to share what I consider the three golden rules of Slush. Let’s dive in!

  1. Keep an open mind. Saying Slush is quite different from what the average person is used to is quite an understatement. In fact, the average person will probably think of tall figures clad in business attire huddled around a round table when asked to picture a conference. Many of my international friends think I’m bluffing when I describe the underground neon-disco atmosphere, with crazy-wide HD screens and insanely high-tech equipment; it’s almost as if it’s straight out of an episode of Black Mirror! You can say that Slush is a lot of things, but it is definitely not boring. The second you walk out into the crowd, you’ll catch yourself being introduced to some of the most extraordinary startups in the game. Or you could possibly be talking to the person who could possibly be your future business partner. Or you get to watch some of the most influential people in the world hold seminars on the glorious stages of Messukeskus. Whenever in doubt, just remember: there is always something happening!
  2. Talk, talk, talk. This rule took a while to get used to, as the idea of just going up to a stranger who could possibly be the next Elon Musk can make even the most extroverted of individuals tremble in their boots. While this may sound unconvincing, the thing with Slush is that it truly is a no-judgment zone. And I say this as a woman of color, shocking! The hierarchy one usually associates with the business world is virtually nonexistent. I remember interviewing the founders of one of the hottest startups in Finland; my palms were as sweaty as they could get, and my hand shook ever so slightly as I held the microphone up towards them. Once the interview ended, the unthinkable happened. We had a regular conversation. Like, a casual one. A conversation where we cracked jokes! And then we became mutuals on LinkedIn? As odd as it sounds, this series of events is truly the essence of networking at Slush, and trust me when I say that you absolutely do not want to miss out on it.
  3. Let yourself detox. New faces, constant interaction, strobe lights, endless chatter; this stuff can wear you down, no doubt about it. While the fun is never-ending at Slush, you want to make sure you’re in the right mindset to enjoy it to the fullest. Stay hydrated throughout the event (this is easy to do with the numerous water stations scattered across the venue, no excuses!), get enough rest (read: do NOT pull an all-nighter… I learned this the hard way), and allow yourself some alone time when you need it. Especially as a first-time volunteer when the entire event can feel so foreign, you may feel your social battery drain out a little faster than what you’re used to. No worries; let your group/team leader know, give yourself a short breather, and then back in you go into the buzzing and fascinating world of Slush!

- Labiba, second year student in the Bachelor's Programme in Economics

Slush event stage
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