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It all started with a company presentation

School of Business Career Services turns 30 this year.
ARENA-messut Töölössä vuonna 2012
ARENA fair at the School of Business in Töölö in the autumn of 2012.

The first Career Services Center in an institution of higher education in the Nordic Countries began at the Helsinki School of Economics in the autumn of 1991 – already 30 years ago. At that time the KY student union was active in the launch of the activities. The members of the KY student working group, Tuomas Kahri, Jarkko Kyttänen, Janos Rautonen and Salla Vainio, were given a mandate for their project from Rector Veikko Jääskeläinen. With the help of grants from a few foundations, the four students were able to travel to the United States and Britain to learn more. On the trips they became acquainted with career and recruitment services at universities in those countries.

‘Professor C. Randall “Randy” Powell was our mentor when the service was launched, and for a few more years when the activities were already under way. At that time, he served as a professor of human resource management at Indiana University (Bloomington) Business School and had successfully led the very successful Career Center there. Randy Powell was also a visiting professor for many years for the BBA programme at the Mikkeli Campus,’ Salla Vainio says.

Jarkko Kyttänen and Salla Vainio led the recruitment services of the Helsinki School of Economics in its early days in 1992–93. Later the reins were taken by a few other students who were close to graduation, until the activity gradually became firmly established.

‘The start was truly challenging during a deep recession. However, we were able to distribute information about the service very quickly by focusing on corporate presentations. We organised the first ARENA Career Fair in 1992. In the following year the four of us wrote a guide for students who were nearing graduation on applying for work, and it was published by Tammi Publishers. The title of the book was provocative: “Töitä on!” (”Work Exists!”) and we got plenty of publicity for it,’ Salla Vainio recalls.

From the ARENA Fair to Aalto Talent Expo

Career Services activities have expanded considerably over the years. From corporate presentations, in which a representative of a company came to the school to describe the activities of their company, the service has expanded to encompass more compact meetings of employers and students and more versatile support in finding employment.

ARENA-messujen järjestäjätiimi vuonna 2013. Kuva: Anni Hanén
The organising team of ARENA Fair in 2013: Veikko Jalkanen, Cecilia Strömman (Hanken), Jane Annala, Erik Lund (Hanken), Annemari Rautio, Tanja Makkonen and Jonna Söderholm. Photo: Aalto University / Anni Hanén

For years, the ARENA Career Fair had been the biggest event of the year, bringing in dozens of companies to present career opportunities to students at the School of Business. The ARENA Fair was organised together with colleagues from Hanken until 2019 when it was replaced by Aalto Talent Expo, which invites employers and students from all the fields taught at Aalto. The School of Business continues to arrange the event. Another major students’ career event involving all of Aalto University, which is arranged by the team, is the Summer Job Day, which is held early in the year.

‘At the Aalto University Summer Job Day, I met Kesko's HR representative, who told me about a trainee programme that would open in the spring, and a position whose job description seemed to suit me. I applied for the post in question, and the Kesko representative who I met at the fair later became my colleague,’ says School of Business alumna Tiina Palmunen, a specialist in personnel responsibility at Kesko.

Priority: listening to clients

School of Business Career Services is part of the External Relations unit at the School of Business, which operates in close cooperation with Aalto University's Advancement and Corporate Engagement unit. The School of Business “career and recruitment” services include forwarding work and traineeship notices in Aalto JobTeaser (previously Aalto CareerWeb), offering visibility to employers at events and marketing channels of different kinds, and passing on topics for theses and projects from employers to students.

Services on offer also include organising training for applying for work, mentoring, and personal career advice in honing a CV or job application. Additionally, we follow the labour market situation and career development of our graduates with different surveys and share this valuable info with our students. Over the years many services have also been tailored specifically for our foreign students, to make sure that their needs are comprehensively met.

School of Business students sitting
School of Business students in the multipurpose lobby in Ekonominaukio 1. Photo: Aalto University / Roope Kiviranta

‘We want to continue our best practices and to engage in cooperation in all areas of Aalto University, and with other universities in Finland. We are part of the national Aarresaari network for work and career services that is shared by all Finnish universities. We seek to listen to our students as well as employers, and to offer concrete down-to-earth services. We like testing new things.’ 

‘In recent years we have made considerable input especially into encounters between students and alumni at various career and mentoring events We actively send messages on what we offer both on social media and in our newsletters,’ says Senior Manager Tanja Makkonen, who started at School of Business Career Services already before Aalto University was set up.

Mentorointitilaisuus Kauppakorkeakoulussa. Kuva: Roope Kiviranta
The School of Business students met with the School's alumni in a group mentoring event in the spring of 2019. Photo: Aalto University / Roope Kiviranta

One approach, which has established itself over the years and proven to be workable is the student council which has operated since 2008. It's members, who are chosen each year, get a chance to develop career and recruitment activities of the School of Business and, among other things, to get to learn more about cooperation between the School of Business and employers, and to influence the activities of external relations of the school more broadly.

‘I applied to join the student council because I wanted to find a way to stay close to the interface with work already during my studies. I also thought that the student council would bring good networking opportunities both inside the school and toward the companies taking part in the cooperation. All of this was implemented, and I got plenty of contacts especially from a workshop in which representatives of partner companies participated. It was very interesting to get to discuss matters such as the various problems of recruitment with representatives of these employers. During the year, the extensive support offered by the school's corporate cooperation, partners, and career and recruitment services became much more familiar to me than they had been before,’ says student Merlina Danson.

Feedback is welcome

Senior Manager Annemari Rautio worked for a long time with Tanja Makkonen at School of Business Career Services, and the team has often also included a university trainee. From this autumn, specialist Milja Koski has joined the team and Annemari has moved on to further develop corporate relations at the School of Business.

‘For our services, we received the Seal of Approval 2017, a prize awarded by the Aalto University Student Union. The recognition warmed our hearts and reinforced our impression that the students find our services to be of significance. Also, research company Universum evaluates quality of our services. It produces an annual career report based on a student survey. Our Career Services has been rated very well in the Nordic region according to students’ answers. It is also nice that students give other types of feedback for our services, which has been overwhelmingly positive – to our delight.’ 

‘Although the career services have been developed all the time since the launch of the activities and obviously, the service portfolio is now very different from the past decades, helping students has always been the most rewarding part of our work,’ Annemari says.

Text: Terhi Ollikainen

Tanja Makkonen

Tanja Makkonen

Senior Manager, Career Services
Milja Koski

Milja Koski

Manager, Career Services
Annemari Rautio

Annemari Rautio

Senior Manager, Corporate Relations, School of Business

Services for employers at the School of Business

Through us you'll reach business students in various ways. We, for example, publish employers' job adverts, mediate recruitment messages and organize career events & fairs.

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