Alumna Tiina Palmunen: Presentation, cooperation and teamwork skills are crucial in working life

Our alumna Tiina Palmunen became interested in Kesko’s trainee program when she met with an HR representative of that company at Aalto Summer Job Day. At her current position as HR Specialist at Employee Responsibility at Kesko, she works with diversity and inclusion matters.
Kauppakorkeakoulun alumni Tiina Palmunen

My name is Tiina Palmunen and I work as Human Resources Specialist, Employee Responsibility at Kesko’s Human Resources department. I studied in the Management and International Business master’s programme at the School of Business and completed my minor studies as exchange studies in Japan. My bachelor’s degree is in Management, with a minor in Marketing. I graduated at the end of 2018.

Why did you want to study management?

I have always been interested in leadership and management, so when choosing my major subject, it felt like a natural choice. The most interesting aspect of the management and organization field is the continuous improvement and development of operations and understanding the human side of the organizations.

How’s your career path been?

I had my first summer job when I was around 15 years old. During my studies at the School of Business, I worked at EF for approximately one year before moving to ABB. There, I worked as a marketing communications intern for about five years alongside my studies. I quit my job at ABB when I left for my exchange in Japan. 

After returning from my student exchange, I was already close to graduation. I decided that I wanted to change the course of my career from marketing communications towards human resources management. I had the opportunity to go towards this direction through the trainee programme of Kesko when I was chosen as HR communications trainee. However, during that same spring I had applied for Adecco’s CEO for One Month position, and against my own expectations, I was chosen for that position, too.

I am thankful for my Kesko colleagues for being so flexible and supportive of me by allowing me to take on the unique opportunity at Adecco along with my trainee position at Kesko. So, I started at my traineeship at Kesko, moved to Adecco to work there for one month as the summer CEO, and then returned to Kesko to finish my traineeship. After that, my traineeship changed into a fixed position, and naturally my work assignments have developed according to my interests and new opportunities along the way.

In addition to the basic knowledge of business, one of the biggest benefits of the studies is the development of one’s critical thinking.

Tiina Palmunen, School of Business alumna

You work as HR Specialist at Kesko. How did you end up in your current position and what kind of work assignments and responsibilities do you have?

I met with a Kesko HR representative at Aalto University Summer Job Day, who told me about their K Trainee programme and hinted about a position that could suit me. I applied for that position and later the HR representative whom I had met during the Summer Job Day and I became colleagues! As I mentioned earlier, I started as an HR communications trainee at Kesko, which was a natural way for me to dive into human resource management from the field of marketing communications. I had studied HR management at Aalto University and that was the direction where I wanted to go in my career. As a trainee I learned and did a lot more than just purely communications tasks. All in all, during my time at Kesko, I have worked with employer branding, talent development and well-being matters.

At my current position as a HR Specialist in Employee Responsibility, I use half of my time on well-being and occupational safety matters and half of it advancing diversity, inclusion and equality matters. Communications continue to be a vital part of my work, and I have also been a part of developing a lot of new things, which is very meaningful to me. In addition, as a part of my work I act as our company’s higher education institution ambassador at Aalto University, which means that I plan the actions and ways in which our company wants to be visible among Aalto University students, especially School of Business students.

In your opinion, what has been particularly important in your studies or what has been most useful?

The School of Business provides you a great base for the working life because the studies help you to understand different company operations and the logics behind them. In addition to the basic knowledge of business and economy, one of the biggest benefits of the studies is the development of one’s critical thinking. Also, the School of Business courses often include group assignments and presentations, which was very beneficial. Indeed, the presentation, cooperation and teamwork skills are crucial in working life, so it is wise to polish these skills already during the studies.

What kind of tips and advice would you give to students regarding job hunting?

I encourage you to apply boldly for work positions that interest you, even if you might feel that you don’t fulfil all the criteria. You have nothing to lose if you apply, but by not applying you don’t even give a chance for yourself to succeed. When applying for the Adecco CEO for One Month position, I would never have believed that I would get even to the second application round, but then a few months later I was sitting in the company’s executive board meeting while receiving the CEO salary.

However, I would also be careful not to be too picky about work assignments, especially during studies. All work experience is beneficial for you: every work assignment will teach you something about the work itself and working life, as well as about yourself and what is important to you in a job. So, even if the work assignment was not exactly according to your interests or education, if you still manage it well, you may get other opportunities inside the company. Also, you may get potential references for your application for the next time you are applying for your dream job.

Furthermore, there are awesome career services available for students at Aalto University. I encourage to participate in the various contact fairs at Aalto and to utilize the job hunting trainings and personal career guidance for polishing your CV and application. I used these services myself after my exchange studies when I was looking for a new job.

Would you do something different in your studies?

I have often thought that it would have been beneficial for me to network even more actively during my time at Aalto University. After my first study year as a mursu, I had a phase in my life where I didn’t go to many student parties and was not involved in the student associations and voluntary activities. If I got to choose now, I would probably be more active in this area. However, at the same time, I want to emphasize that even if you weren’t the most enthusiastic networker or active e.g. in a subject club, you can still get your dream job after graduation. But of course, I also encourage to be active during your studies either in the academic circles or in working life – that way you can obtain valuable experiences that will help you in transferring from studies to working life.

Get to know Tiina’s career path more closely on LinkedIn!

Are you looking for a summer job or trainee position? Come and join in the online Aalto Talent Expo, which will be combined with the Summer Job Day this year! More information and registrations on JobTeaser. You are also very welcome to join Aalto Talent Expo as a recent graduate, you only need your aalto account and login credentials, with which you can login to JobTeaser for registration! Please note that the aalto account is valid 4 months after your graduation. 

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Here you can find School of Business alumni stories. Our alumni share their professional journeys and give advice and tips regarding working life. The stories have been sorted based on the alumni's majors. The newest publications are placed first in the major groups.

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