Alumna Julia Österlund: Responsibility and success boost courage, and failure helps you grow
Who are you? What did you study at Aalto University School of Business and when did you graduate?
I'm Julia Österlund but practically everyone calls me Juuli. During my bachelor's degree, I studied marketing at the School of Business, and for my master's degree, I changed my major to communications. I graduated in summer 2018.
Why did you want to study marketing during your bachelor's programme and communications in the master's programme?
During my bachelor’s studies, I had decided that I wanted to work in the creative sector, but otherwise I didn’t know my own strengths or what I could do with different majors. In my marketing studies, I liked practical courses but after a couple of years I felt that I had already learned what I could about marketing in school, and I decided to switch my major to communications; partly because at the time I was a Board member at KY and responsible for communications.
I have not regretted the decision, as both degrees have helped me in my current job. In fact, I find it quite strange that marketing and communications are considered to be separate because they are very much mutually supportive means of making the company's voice heard.
In your opinion, what has been particularly important in your studies or what has been most useful?
In the final stage of my studies, I did two company projects during which I learned a lot about project management and customer work. One project was for my ITP master's level minor studies that I did for Stora Enso who flew our team to Poland to carry out research on employer image; and the other was a service design project for the Finnish postal service as a part of the Capstone course. Thanks to these projects, I could safely see what it’s like to manage and plan projects together with the customer. In addition, the themes of both projects happened to be something I work on today.
I also ended up volunteering and later working in the boards of KY ry and KY foundation through the School of Business and the importance those experiences had on my career can’t be overlooked. I had a lot of responsibility in these positions which is often not possible in many jobs that early in your career. Responsibility and success boost courage and failure helps you grow. In addition, being active during studies naturally expands your circle of acquaintances.
Would you do something different in your studies?
If I started my studies now, I would certainly make more use of cross-disciplinary study opportunities. It’s hard to do well in today's working life if you only see things from one perspective.
I believe that taking cross-disciplinary studies is easier now that all Aalto University schools are located in Otaniemi. If there is one thing I regret from my studies, it is doing basically all my studies at the School of Business.
How’s your career path been?
I have always liked to work, and I’ve been working part-time in various customer service tasks, from the book store to the gym, since I was in the general upper secondary school. When I started at the School of Business, I did a couple of years of part-time and summer work as an assistant in financial administration, which helped me understand business in practice and offered a suitable challenge alongside my studies. I quit financial administration when I went to Bangkok for an exchange.
After the exchange, I was elected to the KY Board as Communications Officer. During that year, I understood how important it is for me to work somewhere where I can use my own expertise to reach mutual goals. Shortly afterwards, I started my internship with Demos Effect and continued in the same team working in projects while I was writing my master’s thesis. At that time, I was working on revamping the Demos website which in all its concreteness was a very rewarding project.
I then ended up applying for a traineeship for Miltton in autumn 2017 - for an office that had been in my mind for several years, but only then I felt like I could make time for six months of a full-time traineeship. I stayed in the company after my traineeship and now I'm a communications consultant at Miltton.
I actually got the push I needed to apply to Miltton through the mentoring organised by the Career and Recruitment Services of the School of Business because my mentor happened to work at Miltton. As soon as I started there, I was given responsibility for large projects and important customers which also helped me move forward quickly to become a consultant. Nowadays, I have overall responsibility for my own projects - for assembling the best possible team for each need and for planning the project and its progress. I do both creative design and project management.
What is it like working with consultancy agencies in the field of communications and marketing?
No two days are identical working as consultant. Miltton has grown a lot since I came in, and we are no longer just a communications agency - and communication is a part of all business activities. I am most interested in strategy projects because they allow me to have an influence on what the company does. It is also impossible to implement the strategy without effective communication. It is also great that I can combine everything I have studied at school - marketing, communications, information technology and calculus.
I enjoy planning projects and joint sparring with project teams. My role is usually a project manager and designer which combines the creative side with the organization and efficiency that I learned at the School of Business. I also help improve customer relationships. The most meaningful thing is to do projects for customers whose business activities I know well. Working with customers is motivating and almost always very fun; the best thing is that the team, which is made up of experts from us and the customer, plays well together.
I work on several different projects at the same time. One day I may focus on the development of a continuous content collaboration model, and the next day I’m leading a strategy workshop for another customer. The projects not only have different customers but also usually different in-house teams which lets you to learn something new from a co-worker or a customer every day.
Find out more about Julia's career path in LinkedIn!