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Alumna Elina Lamponen: Internships and other jobs during your studies are a good way to try out different things

School of Business, Mikkeli Campus alumna Elina Lamponen gives current students a valuable piece of advice regarding working during studies: “Try to get a job at a smaller company. The company might not seem as prestigious as bigger companies, but the duties are usually more varied, and you get to see and do more and get responsibility early on.”
BScBA Program alumni Elina Lamponen

I’m Elina Lamponen and I currently work for the U.S. State Department as Financial Manager at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki.

What and when did you study at Aalto University School of Business?

I did my Bachelor’s degree in International Business in the BScBA program in Mikkeli during 2008-2011 so that makes me a BScBA8. I then got a Master’s degree in International Business and Politics from Copenhagen Business School.

Why did you want to study business?

After high school, I wasn’t sure what kind of a job I wanted. I knew I wanted it to be something international and I was hoping to study in English. Business seemed like an area that would give me the widest possible foundation and the most possibilities so the BScBA program in Mikkeli seemed like the obvious choice. In hindsight, it turned out to be a great decision.

How’s your career path been?

My career path has been a journey of happy accidents and finding out what I want to do. After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I wanted to take a year off to work and to study politics before my Master’s degree. I got a job at a startup doing administrative work that was only supposed to be for that year. I ended up liking the company and the job and when I moved to Denmark for my Master’s, we worked out how I could continue to work remotely.

My “brief” stint at that company lasted for eight years in the end, all through my internships and periods of living abroad. As the company grew, I was able to grow with them, find out what I’m good at and create my own career path. When I left, we had been through financing rounds and setting up offices around the world and I had been lucky enough to work with finance, HR, marketing, and administration inside that same company. I’m extremely grateful to the wealth of experience I gained there.

It wasn’t an easy decision to leave a company and environment I liked but after eight years I wanted to try something else and after a brief period at another startup, I moved to the U.S. Embassy. Working for a government combines my two interests, finance and politics, and even though working in government can be very different than a startup environment, I find that all the finance principles remain the same and that having broad experience is very valuable.

The BScBA Program gives students an unbeatable combination of theoretical background and worklife skills.

Elina Lamponen, BScBA Program alumna

How would you describe the International Business Program?

The BScBA Program gives students an unbeatable combination of theoretical background and worklife skills. The fast pace of the studies simulates real life, where situations come up and change fast, and projects have to be completed with tight deadlines.

The program also teaches us excellent presentation skills and self-confidence. The students coming from Mikkeli are more poised to speak in front of others. Having confidence in yourself and your work is an invaluable asset later in life, where most jobs require one to speak with self-assurance about their work, be it co-workers, superiors or VIP stakeholders.

The BScBA Program is more of a generalist program but that’s also the beauty of it. The general nature means that you can choose your speciality when you move on to your Master’s but you gain a special community and priceless worklife skills that you won’t get elsewhere.

Did you work during your studies? What is your advice for students interested in working during their studies?

During my studies in Mikkeli, I worked part-time at the department store Anttila and I later also completed two internships, one in Geneva at the UN organization International Trade Centre and another one in New York with Finpro (now Business Finland).

I would advise all students to gather as much work experience as you can already during the studies. Not only will you be financially better off but you will also get a leg up on other graduates when you’re applying for your first job after your studies. Employers appreciate previous work experience, and you have a chance to stand out from the masses.

Internships and other jobs during your studies are also a good way to try out different things. You have decades to build your career but your studies are a good time to see what’s out there.

What is your advice for current BScBA students and recent graduates?

If you get a chance, try to get a job at a smaller company. The company might not seem as prestigious on paper as well-known bigger companies, but in a small company the duties are usually more varied, and you get to see and do more and get responsibility early on. You have the opportunity to work on different areas of business and you might find out that you’re passionate about something that you hadn’t even thought of before. Having been exposed to various areas of business will also help you later on your career when you understand how everything is interconnected and what the other departments are doing.

Your best memory from Mikkeli?

The people. The BScBA community truly is one of a kind and the friends and connections you make there will last a lifetime.

Find out more about Elina's career path in LinkedIn.

Bachelor's Program in International Business, Aalto University

International Business, Bachelor (BScBA, Mikkeli) and Master of Science (Otaniemi) in Economics and Business Administration

The Bachelor’s Programme in International Business provides students with a comprehensive range of skills and knowledge to build, develop and lead companies on a global scale. A bachelor’s degree in business with an international focus opens up a wide variety of career opportunities across all industries and continents.

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