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The first Customized student business projects were completed 30 years ago

The School of Business has long been engaged in diverse business collaboration, such as customized projects.
Students brainstorming at the Design Factory
Customized student business projects have been carried out since 1993.

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 – over 30 years ago. At that time the KY student union was active in the launch of the activities. Active KY student union members 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 career and recruitment services were the first official form of business co-operation at the Helsinki School of Economics. Business co-operation was expanded two years later, when students made their first projects for companies in 1993. This started with approximately ten annual customized student business projects. 

The first centrally organised student project concept in Finland

Tommi Vihervaara, a specialist who has coordinated the School of Business's Customized student business projects for years, says that the Helsinki School of Economics was, as far as it is known, the first university to create an operations model for the centralised organisation of company projects. 

'In this context, centralised organisation means that a project can be commissioned through one contact person, which now is me. I'm responsible for negotiating new projects, finding an academic supervisor, and compiling a suitable student group. The project can be related to any subject or combination of subjects taught at the School of Business. The project group, research topic and schedule are tailored to the needs of companies. The aim is to give students the most authentic experience they can get from research and consulting projects for companies, and in return, companies are promised high-quality project work.’ 

'When customized projects were started, it was unusual for us to be able to combine marketing, information system science and finance students in the same project group. Since then, the activities have continued to expand, and now the project group can be formed by students studying anything that is a major subject and anywhere in the six schools of Aalto University. One project group typically consists of 2–4 students.’ 

Excellent feedback year after year

Over the years, corporate representatives have given a lot of excellent feedback on student projects. Recently, for example, a report prepared by students on the employee experience at Konecranes received the following comment from the client: ‘We were very positively surprised by how insightful and consistent the students were able to make such a large and diverse amount of data,’ said Margie Nijs, Director, Talent Management and Engagement.

Another recent example is the student project for Alma Media. The project dealt with Alma Media’s sustainable digital housing services. This is how the customer commented on the project work: ‘The proposal for the new service concepts even included a comprehensive roadmap for service development, which is something you need to really wrap your mind around such a wide-ranging matter, and not having one could discourage you from taking up the project,’ says Marjaana Lehtimäki, who develops the digital customer experience of housing services at Alma Media. Both Konecranes and Alma Media are School of Business Premium Partners. Each year, the partnership includes one Customized Student Business Project, which is not invoiced separately. 

The students receive both credits and a monetary fee for the project. For companies, projects are subject to a fee. Recently, projects have also been offered to NGOs, and it is hoped that customized student business projects will also establish their place among them in the next few years.

Read about a few example projects, as well as feedback from company representatives, academic supervisors and students from different decades from the link below.

Customized Student Business Projects 30 years

Customized Student Business Projects have been carried out since 1993

Read more
Aalto students. Photo by Aino Huovio.

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