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Information Networks student An Cong encourages women to choose tech: 'Come to Aalto campus and see for yourself why this is a wonderful place to study'

When Cong was still in high school, she contemplated becoming a doctor or getting a business degree. During her senior year she made up her mind to study technology at Aalto University. She confirms that it was a marvellous decision.
An Cong
Image: Matti Ahlgren

‘In grade school I was quite a boisterous kid with rather mediocre grades. Then in junior high, I decided that I wanted to get into Etelä-Tapiola high school, which demanded really good grades back then. I worked extremely hard to get in and I was thrilled when I just barely reached the threshold and was accepted,’ An Cong, student at the Information Networks programme at Aalto University, reminisces.

In the beginning of high school, An did not have clear plans for the future.

‘I chose advanced math, physics, and chemistry, because I was seriously considering a degree in medicine – but during my second year I realized that chemistry just wasn’t for me, and I dropped the subject. I was interested in technology, but math and physics were not my best subjects. I looked into all the topics taught at Aalto to find out which subject requires you to study the least physics. That’s when I found Information Networks,' she explains with a laugh.

An affirms that she is extremely happy with her decision to choose Information Networks, or Info, as the students call it.

‘Here at Info, you’ll get solid basic skills for solving mathematical problems in the field of technology, and you’ll learn the basics of programming. In addition, you’ll gain perspective on a broad range of subjects. You can study for example technology, communication, psychology, social sciences, and design. It’s a very versatile degree; you get to try out a broad range of subjects and see for yourself what interests you the most and what you want to focus on,’ she says.

‘I’ve considered a career in marketing and worked alongside my studies for instance in an advertising agency and at Aalto University communications, but I am interested in many other career paths as well. Change management, HR, consulting and even product development are all possible options for me. During high school I took part in founding two companies that were both awarded prizes for young entrepreneurs. That also kindled a spark for entrepreneurship,’ she ponders.

The freedom to choose your own study rhythm

Freedom is a word that An uses frequently when describing her studies.

‘You have much more freedom when you are studying at university than you did in high school. On some days I might have 4-6 hours of lectures and group work, but on other days there might be none. It depends on the day,’ An remarks.

‘We don’t have all that many lectures here at Info. My studies comprise more of group work, writing learning diaries and other independent work. I like studying at night. If I have a lecture in the morning, I might take it easier in the afternoon and start working on my assignments in the evening’.

An emphasizes that she has ample time for part-time work and hobbies alongside her studies.

‘I’ve worked part-time ever since high school. Now I am working in marketing and social media, and at times I work as a course assistant. I like the fact that as a university student, I can work during the day, which suits me best. I think that combining studies and work is quite doable, as long as you remember to take care of your own well-being and take the time to rest and relax’, she says.

‘I am also an avid badminton player. This fall I participated in two international badminton tournaments, one in Amsterdam and the other in Dublin. They did not interfere with my study schedule at all. I participated in group works remotely and took care of individual assignments at my own pace.’

Choose a program that genuinely interests you

An is originally from Espoo, so starting her studies at the Otaniemi campus was a smooth transition. Making new friends at Aalto University has been easy.

‘Especially people coming from outside the Helsinki region may worry about making new friends, but I promise that you don’t need to fret at all. It’s extremely easy to meet people and make new friends as a student – and student life at Aalto University is wonderful. You’ll have the time of your life,’ An assures.

An has a few hints for high school students who are pondering about their future.

‘If I could go back in time to when I was 15 and give my younger self some advice, my most important tip would be this: study math so that you understand it. I sometimes have a tendency to focus too much on just passing a course – learning has not been my first priority. But with math it would be extremely good to genuinely understand things, it makes life easier in the future.’

‘As general advice to all high school students, I strongly recommend that you choose a degree that interests you. Don’t just pick something that your friends suggest, or your parents hope you will study. I especially encourage young women to consider a degree in technology. We have so many interesting options that are worth checking out. Aalto University also arranges tours for high school students, you’ll easily find them online. Take part in one of them and come to Aalto campus to see for yourself why this is a wonderful place to study!’

Aalto University students in front of the main building. Photo: Aalto University / Aino Huovio.

Applying to master’s programmes

The admissions to the two-year master’s programmes at Aalto University are organised once a year.
The application period for studies beginning in the autumn of 2023 runs from 1 December 2022 to 2 January 2023.

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