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My experience at Aalto University as an international student and an employee

What is it really like to both work and study at Aalto University as an international student? Our Program Assistant Ayse at Aalto University Summer School shares her experiences.
Ayse Pekdiker - blog post image 1

My name is Ayse. I’m a second-year marketing master’s student at Aalto University and currently working as a program assistant for Aalto University Summer School. I’m originally from Turkey, and my life as an Aalto student started almost a year ago. Here, I’ll share my experience at Aalto as a student and an employee.

Let’s start with my student experience. What makes the most out of my Aalto experience is the vibrant student culture. At Aalto, there are more than 200 student associations which provide you with a variety of activities throughout the academic year. It is possible to find hobbies from sailing to cocktail making and from card games to pole dancing. Aalto truly is a great place to discover what you like and get a chance to try it.

I’m personally not an active member of any association, but I frequently attend social activities of my interest that the student associations organise. These activities include excursions, workshops, parties and much more. What impresses me the most is the organisational excellence and dedication of the students. It feels good to know that I’m surrounded by like-minded people eager to contribute to the Aalto community and the larger society.

Ayse Pekdiker 2

Quality of education is another aspect that I’m grateful to have here at Aalto University. I like that our courses include theoretical knowledge that pushes our intellectual boundaries as well as a hands-on learning experience that helps us improve our professional skills. At Aalto, we learn by doing. To give a simple example, if we were taking a course on qualitative research methods, we would not memorise what an interview is word by word and write it on an exam paper. Instead – we would conduct one ourselves. In that sense, I believe that the overall courses I’m taking contribute to my learning well and will help me prosper in my future career.

Another great example of learning by doing is the challenge-based learning pedagogical approach we follow at Aalto University Summer School and at Aalto University in general. Challenge-based learning means that students get to experience real-life challenges and teaching and learning practices aligned with work-life environments to increase employability.

For example, they often get the opportunity to collaborate with local and global partners to tackle a real life challenge. For instance, if a small company aims for an international expansion and needs a digital marketing plan this could be a class project for our students. Then the companies would get solutions for their deeds and students would have experiences that would increase their chances of employability. Check out our amazing Digital Business Master Class to have a more concrete view of what we offer at Aalto University Summer School.

I’m thrilled to start my career here at Aalto University. I started working here in the beginning of this summer as a program assistant to help the team with marketing and communications, customer service and course assistance. From the first day, actually even before I started my role as a program assistant, I felt welcomed by my colleagues and supervisors. Everyone was very friendly and inclusive. It goes without saying that our work language is English, but in non-work-related interactions as well, the people I worked with kept the daily language in English. I remember my Finnish-speaking colleagues communicating in English with each other even while they were one meter away from me, considering the possibility that I might join their conversation. This might be a minor detail for many, but for me, this level of consideration is quite touching.

One cultural shock for me regarding the working culture in Finland was the trust people put in you. Everything is in line and well organised in terms of planning, and as an employee, I feel like I am an integral part of the operations. My supervisors put trust in me without holding back their support. Another shocking experience I got was regarding the low-hierarchical working environment. I knew that Finland had a low hierarchical society, but I was not expecting it to be this enabling. I call my supervisors by their names without putting any titles in front, and they always approach me as if I am their equal. This is a unique experience that one could not see in many places.

My experience at Aalto University Summer School is not limited to only the Finnish working culture. I have learned so much about marketing strategy, branding, social media marketing, customer service, event management, backstage operations of higher education, course assistance, design software such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Spark, Microsoft Office tools and much more. I’m looking forward to finding out what my journey will look like next!

As you can probably tell from my text, I highly recommend Aalto University to be a part of your future, whether as a student or an employee. I can confidently say that you will not regret it.

Now, are you excited about living the Aalto experience but not considering a full degree at the moment? Are you already focused on your current job but still wish to breathe the air on our lovely campus, even if it is for a short period? Subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about the upcoming courses at Aalto University Summer School.

We are looking forward to having you here!

Program Assisstant

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