Students learn career design methods to clarify their identity and future

A new career program helps students creatively design meaningful careers despite all the uncertainty in the world.
A picture from the workshop

Choosing the right career direction can feel daunting in today's complex and volatile world of work. Aalto University’s new pilot program Design a Meaningful Career helps students set their compass and find their way despite the uncertainties. The program brought together 20 students from all the Aalto schools and degree levels as well as from different national backgrounds.

From design thinking to visual career narratives

The program consisted of five two-hour interactive workshops that were designed around an online course (2 cr) by the same name.

  1. Think like a designer
  2. Clarify your identity
  3. Find your superpower
  4. Prototype your future
  5. Wrap-up: Create your narrative

Unlike traditional career planning, career design highlights the importance of adaptability and creativity in envisioning one’s path.

I now see the uncertainty more as an opportunity to explore many paths that fit my values.

Program participant

In the workshops, the participants reflected on their identity, sketched alternative futures and brainstormed career prototypes in groups. The purpose of the exercises and tools was to spark creative and intuitive thinking and develop an experimental approach to one’s career.

“I realized there is no one path to take and that it is important to be active and try different things to learn whether they suit me or not. Not to wait for the perfect solution to appear from somewhere.”

a student's visual narrative example

In the wrap-up session, students created visual career narratives to integrate all their main ideas and insights.

“My light-bulb moment came when I clarified my values for the first time ever. I realized that I do not have to follow the group, I don’t have to be like one of the guys.”

“I found my superpowers!“

The program got very positive feedback. Students felt that the tools helped clarify their direction and help deal with the unavoidable uncertainty.

"I'm no longer afraid or stressed about the future.”

They also learned to question internalized career ideals and develop alternative narratives to live by. For many understanding their natural strengths was key in giving a new perspective on how they could pursue a meaningful career.

“I did not believe it would be possible but I did find my superpowers. After searching for them for 30 years! It has changed my perspective of my career and I have already applied it also in my applications.”

Career Design Lab x Effective Altruism

The pilot program was a collaboration between Aalto Career Design Lab (CDL) and Aalto Effective Altruism (EA) - a student association that helps students find effective ways to tackle the most important problems of our time.

"We started this collaboration with the intent to make Aalto students more aware of the possibilities of changing the world through their career”, says Aayush Kucheria, a M.Sc. student in Artifical Intelligence and Aalto EA co-founder. "Another reason was to better understand how the creative career design approach can complement the more analytical perspective of EA. The program worked wonderfully!"

"The most useful part of the program was crystallizing my strengths and values”, adds Santeri Koivula, a B.Sc. student in Mathematics and Systems Sciences and another Aalto EA co-founder. "I'm still unsure about my path going forward, but recognizing my strengths makes it easier to make the right choices. Career design is a refreshing change to traditional career planning, and I'm excited to see how we can develop this collaboration further."

Co-designing the program in collaboration with Aalto EA helped Career Design Lab better tailor the program to student needs.  “It was inspiring to work with the value-driven EA students and get their insight into the program design” says Kirsi LaPointe, a senior advisor at CDL and facilitator of the pilot program. “We hope to offer this program also in the future”.

For more information

 Kirsi LaPointe

Kirsi LaPointe

Career Design Lab
 Susanna Saarinen

Susanna Saarinen

Career Design Lab
 Aila Saloranta

Aila Saloranta

Career Design Lab
a laughing woman in an art workshop

Design a Meaningful Career (external link)

In this self-paced online course you will learn how to shape your career as you go in the radically changing world of work.


Aalto Effective Altruism (external link)

Join Aalto Effective Altruism in our mission to help people make a difference.

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