Made in Aalto: a creative serial entrepreneur
Katja Meriläinen, 27, started the master's programme in entrepreneurship at Aalto University in 2012. This passionate traveller and curious type has not regretted her choice for a moment. Katja set up her first company a year after she had started her studies and quite a few more companies have followed.
Katja managed to try a great many things before joining Aalto University. She did courses in teacher training at the University of Helsinki and was generally pretty interested in everything. However, she had still not found her true vocation in life. 'I did an exchange in Sweden, summer courses in Shanghai and basically any project that included the possibility of travel,' Katja says and laughs.
Economics and business administration provided a positive surprise
A few years later she started to entertain the idea of studying economics and business administration and the notion really grew from there.
'I have always regarded myself as more of a creative artist than an information junkie. I thought the School of Business would all be about pompous lecture halls and dusty piles of books filled with business law. Of course, I was very wrong,' she explains.
The master's programme looks ahead
According to Katja, the master's programme in entrepreneurship proved to be an ideal platform for releasing creativity and experimenting with the strangest of ideas.
Katja praises the atmosphere at the School of Business. 'The programme is international and full of people with top-level expertise. Coupled with that, Aalto University provides numerous possibilities to take part in various cross-disciplinary projects. It's worth grasping these opportunities. It's also worth using the possibilities to participate in exchanges.'
'Here people look ahead and don't act according to old models. I haven't heard anyone complain that the employment prospects are poor.'
Katja was surprised by the bold international way employed in the studies. She learned that the Finnish market is often too small for a growth company and that it pays to take a good innovation to the international markets straight away. 'You don't even have to start in Finland,' she says.
'What has benefitted me most in these studies is that I have been forced to step outside my comfort zone,' Katja says. 'From the very beginning they emphasised that in the world of start-ups you can be successful if you are bold and not afraid of failure. If at first you're not successful, the next time you'll be more experienced.'
Design products, blog portal and events
Katja relishes the freedom brought by being an entrepreneur, i.e. working when she wants to.
'Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. I personally enjoy short, intensive projects and couldn't see myself working in permanent employment, at least not at the moment anyway.'
Katja set up her first company about a year after having started her studies. 'In the beginning I was working on a brand for a Finnish design product. Then I set up a blog portal. At present I produce events with my team.' What next? 'My future goal is to develop a genuinely scalable product and business model. I have given myself the freedom to try anything that can teach me something useful.'
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