Mia Sirkiä: By helping others, you build your community

"After graduation, stay curious and help others," says Mia Sirkiä, chair of the Aalto alumni network board. Sirkiä shared her story to the 1700 new Aalto University alumni and their families at the Graduation Day 2023.
A new alumni putting on his graduation pin
Graduation pin designed by Inni Pärnänen celebrates the new alumni of Aalto University. Photo: Lasse Lecklin.
Mia Särkiä, chair of the alumni network board, talking on stage
Focus on people and relationships, says Mia Sirkiä, chair of the alumni network board. Photo: Lasse Lecklin

Focus on people and relationships

Chair of the Aalto alumni network board, Mia Sirkiä, shared her story to new alumni at the Graduation Party organized at the Otaniemi campus on 14 June 2023.

In her speech, Sirkiä encouraged the graduates to focus on people and relationships. 

She addressed two key concepts—curiosity and community—and pointed out how you can cultivate them both after graduation.  

New Aalto University alumni celebrate their graduation and lifelong membership of the Aalto alumni tribe, as they receive their graduation pins at the Graduation Party.

Read below Mia Sirkiä's speech that includes good reminders and guidelines in life for us all.

When curiosity opens new doors for you, community is the one that makes it all more fun and meaningful.

Mia Sirkiä, chair of the alumni network board

Dear Graduates,

It is a privilege to address you on your big day and bring you Aalto alumni greetings.

I would like to talk about two important words starting with a letter "C": Curiosity and Community.

I graduated from Aalto University School of Business in 1999. My career path has taken me from traversing sales roles within global technology corporation to working with brilliant and creative minds in the advertising industry. Currently, I work as a private equity investor.

First keyword: Curiosity

I have often been asked how I managed to secure such engaging positions and successfully transition between diverse career paths.  I had to think hard before giving my answer, considering that I didn’t possess the highest grades, nor was I the hardest working person.

The answer lies in curiosity—simply being active and showing genuine interest in people and various topics.

New doors will appear when you stay curious, nurture your curiosity and are willing to learn. When these new opportunities, new doors, come to you, embrace these possibilities with an optimistic attitude. Say “yes” more often than say “no”.

Second keyword: Community

The other “C” I want to address today is community. When curiosity opens new doors for you, community is the one that makes it all more fun and meaningful.

It boils down to people. While this may appear obvious, it remains an undeniable truth. When I asked several Aalto alumni friends what advice they would give to you today, their responses emphasized the same aspect: focus on people and relationships.  

Having a supportive community around you serves a purpose far beyond career advancement. It makes your work and life in general more meaningful and rewarding. Furthermore, during moments of disappointment and bad days—which we all encounter—having a community and those people around you make those challenging days more bearable.

Build your community by helping others

Some of you have already built your communities during your studies. However, if you have not yet done so, don’t worry, you can cultivate communities at any stage of your career. 

So, how can you do it?

Here arises the term “networking”, which many find terrifying, perhaps conjuring images of awkward cocktail parties and forced small talk with strangers.  

Allow me to offer you a crucial insight: Replace the word "networking" with another word—helping. Focus on helping others, being of service. Become a mentor to students, extend a helping hand to your alumni friends, facilitate connections for individuals seeking new opportunities, or engage in volunteer work for meaningful causes—there are many ways to do it.

When you approach relationships with a genuine intention to help, it brings a sense of purpose to the relationship. With purpose comes meaning and, in turn, with meaningful connections comes community.

This is how you build your own network and community. Additionally, don't hesitate to seek assistance from others. Let me share a secret with you: Most people are incredibly willing to help if you only ask them.

Tap into the vast potential of the alumni community

Remember, you are already a member of the Aalto alumni community—a community of significant size and impact, consisting of 100,000 people located in interesting and influential positions. Be proactive, maintain your curiosity, and tap into the vast potential of this great community to learn, share, and both give and receive help. Trust that, in the end, things will work out in the end.

Päätän entisen presidentti Mauno Koiviston sanoihin: ”Ellemme varmuudella tiedä, kuinka tulee käymään, olettakaamme että kaikki käy hyvin.”

Welcome to the Aalto alumni community and see you at the Aalto Alumni Weekend 2023 in October!

Congratulations to you all!

Mia Sirkiä
Chair of the alumni network board

Summer vibes at the Graduation Party

    A red greeting card with 'Congrats' written on it for the new alumni of Aalto University.

    At the Graduation Party, the new alumni are handed their graduation pins. 

    New graduates smiling and laughing together

    Friends and families are invited to celebrate with the new graduates. 

    People sitting outside around a table in front of the Otaniemi main building

    The festivities take place next to the iconic Undergraduate Centre that landmarks the campus in Otaniemi, Espoo.

    Three graduates sitting and having a picnic at the park

    Participants enjoy food and beverages in the style of an outdoor picnic.

    A couple dancing and laughing, rows of graduates on the background

    And it wouldn't be a proper celebration without some live music and dancing!

    Aalto University Graduation Party celebration in 2018. Photo by Aalto University / Heli Sorjonen

    Academic events and traditions

    Academic events cover the entire academic year from Aalto Day One all the way to the Ceremony Week with the graduation party and ceremonial conferments. Tenured professors' Installation Talks and public defences spread throughout the academic year.

    Graduation Party 2022

    For alumni

    As an alum, you are part of Aalto community. Let's stay connected and develop together!

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