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When students have their master's thesis under way or have just graduated, they are confronted with the transition to working life. What to do and where to go?
The Career Services unit recently organised a Life After Graduation career afternoon for MSc students in the final two years of their studies. At the event, alumni and employers provided students with valuable tips on working life, job seeking, and career planning for the time after graduation.
Masters of Science in Economics and Business Administration are sought-after employees, and according to statistics they find jobs quickly after graduation. However, many students do not have a clear career vision when they graduate and would like to have a better idea of the career path they should pursue.
Some 60 students came to the career afternoon, held in the Stora Enso hall, to hear what today's employers expect from recent Economics and Business Administration graduates.
On the verge of graduation, many students stop to consider what their professional profile is or will be and how they should go about defining it.
HR Consultant Outi Olkkola from KPMG encouraged students to consider what they are good at.
‘Think about what you love doing. Usually this is also what you excel in’, Olkkola said.
She also encouraged students to think about why they are so interested in this area of business. ‘This will help you determine what kind of added value you could bring to an organisation. It's very important!’
When applying for a job, the most important documents are your CV and cover letter. It is worth using time and effort to polish them off.
‘The best CVs and cover letters crystallise who you are, what you can do, what you are especially proud of and what you have learnt so far’, Olkkola said. ‘Above all, they tell the employer what you could bring to the work community.’
‘The people who have the right attitude and work ethic as well as the potential to develop are the ones who get hired. This is why it is important to make it clear from the start why you are interested in the job and the company.’
The career afternoon included a panel discussion. The panellists were School of Business alumni who had graduated some years ago. Elvira Vainio from Posti, Eira Vatanen from Microsoft, Anne Liiri from Dream Broker and Vesa Sironen from Gapps Oy all gave an account of how they have advanced in their careers. They also told the students what they pay attention to when they recruit recent graduates.
The humorous message the panellists wished to convey was that your master's thesis won't kill you and that you may even learn something during the project. In the best-case scenario, you will gain both work experience and complete your studies, the panellists said.
Many students get their first proper job at the company that has commissioned their thesis project. But what should one do if the thesis project is over and there is no job in sight? ‘Your thesis is just one step on your path’, the panellists consoled. According to the panellists, it is worth thinking about what you actually want to do instead of sending applications to random companies.
Anne Liiri encouraged students to keep an open mind and consider a wide range of options. ‘Remember that there are jobs outside the large and well-known companies that most people see as desirable workplaces. Working for a small business may in fact give you more. You get to perform a variety of tasks, which gives you the opportunity to learn what you are interested in and what is less appealing to you.’ ‘On the other hand, job rotation can also provide variety in a large company’, Elvira Vainio said.
The panellists encouraged students to make use of the business project opportunities provided by the School of Business, interdisciplinary programmes such as IDBM and ITP, and trainee programmes provided by companies. ‘I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. I attended a trainee programme provided by S Group, and the programme ended up opening several doors for me’, Eira Vatanen said.
Be yourself. Know what you want, but do not shut the door on other opportunities. If an interesting opportunity surfaces, be bold and seize it. Find a company or organisation that you are genuinely interested in and consider how you could bring added value to it. Apply for jobs that are not announced publicly, form networks and learn to find hidden jobs. Do not be afraid to show your feelings. If you are passionate about something, make it known. These were the main messages the panellists communicated to the students.
Similar advice was also heard from the employers and alumni who participated in the networking event that followed the career afternoon. Maria Calonius from EY, Emma Annila from CGI and Laura Evilä from Deloitte all emphasised the importance of a good CV and cover letter, but also said that showcasing your personality is essential.
‘You have to be bold and make it known why you believe you are perfect for the job. A genuine interest in the field and a desire to develop the field are extremely important.’
The students who participated in the event received useful tips for job seeking. They also learnt that there is no need for panic even if their plans are not yet crystal clear. ‘Others have also been in the same situation and found their path in the end. When you know what you want, the right attitude and keeping an open mind will be the best companions on your way’, the speakers said.
The organisations that participated in the event: