This summer, some 50 young people found summer jobs and trainee placements at VTT, in fields ranging from ship technology to communications. When Adele Ruokosalmi, Arttu Turtonen, Maria Nyman and Tuomas Kyllönen talked to me about their experiences, I found it truly exiting to meet these young men and women who are so inspired by their chosen field and show such commitment to their work. A summer job or trainee placement in one’s own field can be difficult to find. Those seeking a position have often had to work hard to get one, and perhaps have a stroke or two of luck.
Having spotted an interesting job at VTT in LinkedIn, Adele Ruokosalmi was immediately thrown in at the deep end. At least she knew her workplace, having previously worked in VTT’s reception. Adele is a business student at the University of Vaasa, majoring in marketing.
A job in the marketing of knowledge-intensive products and services feels like a glimpse of what is to come in the future. Adele said she was surprised by the number of technologies and services at VTT. Her particular interest being augmented reality, she intends to write her thesis about the ways in which independent retailers on the high street can provide their customers with experiences using digital means.
For Adele, the best thing at VTT was the chance to get busy with some real-life assignments. She updated the website, ran Google marketing campaigns and designed trade fair material with an advertising agency. She also mentioned lunch on Micronova building’s roof terrace on a summer’s day as another highlight of her working day.
Arttu Turtonen is about to graduate with a degree in political science. Interested in innovation in the public sector, he used half of his time to write his thesis and the other half to work in a research team analysing innovative public contracts, such as central and local government services that do not yet exist in the marketplace.
Arttu was surprised by the range of multidisciplinary research taking place at VTT. His previous image of VTT as an organisation that focuses on engineering was transformed when he realised how many projects involved socioeconomics. “This has been opportunity to work with the top talent in the field. It’s been really motivating and instructive,” says Arttu. He hadn’t thought about becoming a researcher, but during his time at VTT he found himself drawn to the idea. Arttu says that from the beginning he was welcomed not only as a trainee but as a colleague and given plenty of responsibility and trust in a range of tasks.
I asked Arttu’s opinion about what we can expect to see trending in innovative public contracts. He thought about it and then listed digital solutions in social and health care provision and education as the hottest topics in the future.
When he’s not studying innovation, Arttu plays squash and badminton or goes hiking in the Finnish wilds.
Maria Nyman’s work matched the stereotypical image of what a scientist does. A student in organic chemistry at the University of Helsinki, Maria worked with switchable capsule structures at VTT. For the uninitiated that hardly means anything, but this cheerful young woman could have talked about it for hours. It’s simply wonderful to see how excited someone can get about her work.
It’s not far from the truth to say that Maria is rather unique in that she’s never had to apply for anything. Having graduated from high school with excellent grades, she immediately received a place at university to study chemistry. Then, last autumn, a university researcher suggested that Maria write her thesis for a new joint project run by the university and VTT. Having completed her thesis, Maria was able to continue working in the project at VTT during the summer.
“In practice, I carry out organic synthesis. I mix, heat up and monitor reactions that create brand new compounds, which I then analyse,” she explains. She likes the fact that at VTT’s laboratories she does not spend her time cleaning but can keep working with the synthesis. The thing that surprised her most was the number of people working in the labs. “It’s lovely to see others around here and not work alone,” she says.
Maria’s plans for the future remain open. She will first complete her degree modules and gain a teaching qualification, although she has not ruled out a career in research. In addition to her scientific interests, Maria is active in her university’s Spex, an interactive student theatre where she leads a dance club.
Tuomas’s field is marine technology. After meeting a VTT employee in his Otakoppi baseball club, Tuomas decided to apply for a summer job in the organisation.
Tuomas is a recent graduate from Aalto University with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and Building Technology. While his university had organised visits to several businesses, Tuomas only discovered how varied his field can be when he started working. He was involved in a project that measures underwater noise generated by vessels and analyses passenger ship energy savings. Come autumn, Tuomas may have a chance to try out a field assignment, assisting in the process by which a microphone is lowered to the sea to measure the noise generated by passing ships.
This summer was Tuomas’s first time working at VTT. For him, integration in the professional community was easy and he was pleased to have found great community spirit at work. His plans involve at least an overseas exchange placement. “I’m not quite sure yet what I want to do when I grow up,” Tuomas says, as he ponders his future. Luckily, he’ll have plenty of time to think about it.
Emilia worked as a trainee at VTT’s communications during summer 2016. We thank all our summer workers and wish them all the best with their studies!