Vaasan yliopiston opiskelijoita

Students spend their summer at work – Work experience in their field of study is a key asset for the future

Henna Kontola
You can find students from the University of Vaasa in internships at different companies in Vaasa all year round. The busiest time is during the summer months when students have a break from their studies. However, they are not just summer fill-ins for the companies. At the same time, the companies have an opportunity to attract future talent and offer valuable work experience to students.

Four of our students share their stories of how they got their summer jobs or internships in Vaasa, what kind of working-life skills they have learned, and how the university has supported them during their first steps into the professional world.

Applying for jobs takes effort

Even though it may seem that there are a lot of open summer jobs or internship positions, job hunting takes time and effort. There is competition for each position as students from different higher education institutes apply for the same jobs. You need to start looking for a job early in the year, although some positions may still open up closer to the summer.

Mustafizur Rahman

Sara Simola, a second-year communications student, works as a communications trainee at ABB. She noticed an email about the open position and applied immediately.

– I was surprised but very glad when they offered me the job. I believe that the internship will be very beneficial for my future. Employers value the experience of working in a large and well-known global company. This experience will be a key asset when applying for jobs, Sara thinks.

First-year master’s student in business studies Mustafizur Rahman got a job at Wärtsilä Logistics Centre. He says that job hunting was not easy, but not too hard either. When applying, he got help from the university Career Services. They offer career counselling and help with writing a CV and finding suitable open positions.

– Getting the first job in your own field of study can be hard. It is important especially for international students so that they learn how to adapt their skills and expertise to Finnish work culture and get the hang of applying for jobs in Finland, Mustafizur says.

Jaakko Rantamäki, a second-year administrative sciences student, also noticed that getting his job at the National Land Survey of Finland was easier as a second-year student as he had gained some work experience already last summer.

The university supports internships

The University of Vaasa works hard to secure internships for students. The “Takuuteekkarit teollisuuteen” programme is a collaborative model of the School of Technology and Innovations, focusing primarily on helping first-year engineering students find internships. Kyllikki Katajamäki, a third-year student in electrical and energy engineering, originally came to Danfoss as a “Takuuteekkari” intern.

Kyllikki Katajamäki

– I got an internship at Danfoss in my first year of studies thanks to this programme. Now I'm in my third summer with the company, says Kyllikki.

The University of Vaasa also offers subsidies for internships, for both Finnish and international students. The university encourages local small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to hire international talents. Employers can get a €3,600 subsidy from the university when they hire an international student for a three-month full-time internship.

Employers can get a €3,600 subsidy from the university when they hire an international student for a three-month full-time internship.

High-quality induction is important

For students learning the ropes of working life, it's important to get a positive experience and a sense of belonging. In many organisations, induction is a comprehensive process.

Often the whole internship is about getting to know things, and it is important that the trainee always has the opportunity to ask for support. At the National Land Survey of Finland, the induction period lasted three weeks and Jaakko found the induction to be of high quality. Others also praised the induction they have received.

– The induction has been the best possible. I was assigned a peer buddy whom I can turn to whenever I have a question. In our workplace, there is a low threshold for asking anyone for help, says Kyllikki.

From practical skills to work-life skills

Sara Simola

Work is not only about the tasks. Getting to know the organisation, being part of the team and getting used to the work culture takes time too.

– I was pleasantly surprised to learn that everyone says hello to each other at the office. No matter who comes across, you say good morning to everybody, Kyllikki says.

When entering the world of work, many may have preconceptions of what it’s like out there and how you must dress or behave. However, these preconceptions often quickly disappear.

– I thought everything at work would be more formal, but the conversations here are as relaxed and fun as anywhere else. It's not as scary as I sometimes thought it would be, Sara laughs.

Students say they feel it is particularly important to be included in the work community, for example, by being invited to meetings.

– It has been interesting to be involved in planning and development work by participating in meetings. It gives you an insight into the organisation beyond the scope of your own job description, says Jaakko.

I thought everything at work would be more formal, but the conversations here are as relaxed and fun as anywhere else.
Sara Simola

Learning journey

The subjects covered in studies and theoretical knowledge provide a foundation for expertise and a good basis for success in working life.

Jaakko Rantamäki

– I have found that I can combine what I have learnt at the university with practical work. In addition, the hours spent at the laboratory during the courses have proven to be very useful, as I spend about half of my time at work in the laboratory, says Kyllikki.

Working life is also a learning journey of its own, and it is important that work offers opportunities to develop and learn new things.

– I'm happy to have been given so much responsibility and to be trusted. I also get to try out different tasks at work and learn about things I'm particularly interested in. I like the fact that the work at Wärtsilä is carried out with care and quality. Everything is done properly the first time, says Mustafizur.

Encounters with people matter

Of course, the internship will provide new skills and valuable work experience. But when asked about the best thing about their job, the students bring the team and a certain humanity to the fore. Students praise the fact that they have been a part of the team from day one.

– Our team is like a family. We are all of different ages, but still, form a very close-knit community, says Kyllikki.

In larger organisations, students also have the opportunity to get to know other trainees, make friends and share experiences.

– ABB has hundreds of summer trainees in Finland, and it's nice to get to know other colleagues of the same age through different summer events, says Sara.

During the summer, everyone should remember that the whole organisation can learn a lot from trainees, as long as they are given the space to be heard. After all, we don't just work for the sake of working, it's always about the community and the joy it brings.

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