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Hele Haapaniemi

Hele Haapaniemi, 24, is a Master of Science (Technology). She graduated from the School of Chemical Technology last autumn. In April this year, she will celebrate her first year working for Orion as a development chemist.
Hele Haapaniemi

I graduated from the School of Chemical Technology last autumn, and now in April I will celebrate my first year at Orion as a development chemist. My work focuses on the development of fast analysis methods for medicinal products (NIR methods) that can be used to replace traditional analysis methods that are more expensive and slower to use. In addition, I’m also part of the manufacturing development project, which focuses on researching opportunities for moving from batch processes to continuous production. It has been a wonderful opportunity to be part of such a significant project that can help implement new technologies in the field of medicine.

I ended up studying at Aalto somewhat accidentally. I had applied to study medicine, but I was one point away from being accepted. I received a place in the chemistry department with my matriculation examination certificate, and I thought that I would stay for a year and prepare to apply for medical school again. However, I was soon swept away by my studies, and I have been very glad that I did not get in to medical school back then! What would I, a person who fears blood and diseases, have done in medical school, anyway?

Your best memory and the thing that you learned during your studies that has helped you in working life

Picking one single best memory is difficult. One of my most memorable experiences was participating in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, where our student team genetically engineered yeast to detect and destroy cyanobacterial toxins in water. After a busy spring and summer, we presented our project in Boston at the competition finals, where our project was awarded with a gold medal. A gold medal did not mean that we won, but that we had fulfilled specific criteria in several categories.  Many student events, such as Skipoli’s first snow, annual galas and May Day celebrations also spring to mind.

The most important skill that I learned was the ability to search for information and absorb it quickly. Very few recent graduates know everything that they need to know in working life just by what they have learned from their studies. This makes it crucial that you know how to search for information and evaluate its reliability. The many group assignments and projects during my studies taught me to be efficient when it came to searching for information. My ability to absorb information quickly is probably related to my absolutely packed schedule, which forced me to be especially efficient in everything that I did.

I also learned to network as I mingled with other students. It's a useful skill and you should not forget it in working life. You never know which contact could prove to be an immense help in the future.

The harder, the better

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. I love endurance sports − the harder, the better. Race walking is my main sport, and I placed first in the Finnish Championships this winter. I was also part of the team that beat Sweden and participated in the European Youth Championships, both unforgettable experiences. I was also on the field in during the European Championships in Helsinki, but I was dressed as a mascot then…

What should everyone do and experience at least once in their life?

Live abroad! I was on exchange in Grenoble, France during my first master’s-level term. When you live abroad, you learn a lot of new things and have experiences that you can’t really find back home. But you also learn to appreciate living in Finland and the Finnish way of life in a completely new way after you’ve lived abroad. At some point in the future, I would like to work abroad.

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