Attitude, attitude and attitude - students received advice on working life at the School of Chemical Engineering's CHEM Career Forum
The Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering's CHEM Career Forum was held on 14 December 2018 in Dipoli. During the event, the companies showcased their operations and their summer job and career opportunities. The purpose of the annual event is to familiarise students with companies in their field and to create networking opportunities between students, business representatives and school staff.
“Students are mostly interested in the companies’ summer jobs”, said Heli Lahtinen, HR specialist from UPM. “Students should be open-minded about the opportunities available. UPM's summer jobs are predominantly in production facilities, which are not located in the Helsinki metropolitan area, so students should be prepared to travel a bit further for these opportunities. After all, it is only a short period in their lives but makes a big impact on their CVs”, she continued.
The same message was also communicated during the event’s panel discussion. The panellists included Elsa Olmos, Analyst Manager from Kemira, Hanna Järvinen, Talent Acquisition Manager from Neste, Veera Eskelin, Development Manager, Innovations from UPM, and Juho Talonen, Senior Manager, Corporate R&D from Outokumpu. The discussion was led by Vesa Pitkänen from the Forest Products Guild and Tuomas Sipiläinen from the Prosessiteekkarit University Association. All panellists felt that it was worthwhile to be open-minded towards work experience and get as much of it as possible. All work is valuable, and even experience gained on the ‘shop floor’ is valuable for students studying engineering and increases their credibility in working life.
“Any evidence of work experience in a CV tells us that this person is ready to work”, said Hanna Järvinen. “It doesn’t matter what type of work you do in a company, even if it is a bit modest at first, it's a good opportunity to create networks that can be of great use in the future.”
Essi Petäjistö, who graduated from the School of Chemical Engineering in 2014 and works as a Process Design Engineer at Sweco, was of the opinion that participation in the career forum and other similar events is very important for companies. Even if summer jobs are not available for the youngest students, it is a good idea for the company to be involved in raising awareness, so that after graduation students can keep an eye open for job opportunities. Competition for good candidates is fierce among companies.
Fourth year Master's students, Ella Aikio, Eveliina Voutilainen and Jessica Vähävaara, have participated in the Career Forum in previous years. According to them, the best thing about the event has been the employers’ views on what makes a job applicant stand out from the crowd. During this year’s event they again received good tips on the subject.
“Above all, you should be accurate and meticulous when making your application”, said Veera Eskelin. “It doesn’t make a very good impression if an application addressed to UPM mentions Neste.”
The CV and the accompanying application should always be tailored to the job and company. It is good to emphasise your own personality and use key words associated with the job. Elsa Olmos also encouraged applicants to be courageous and pick up the phone if the job ad includes a call time for further inquiries. By calling you may stick in the recruiter’s mind.
Breadth or depth - which is the best background for employment? Is it best for students to specialise in a narrow field of expertise or alternatively - try to gain knowledge and experience as widely as possible?
"It is not enough to know a little about lots of things, some things must be mastered."
According to Juha Talonen, in addition to their own field, it would be beneficial for an engineer to know a little about economics, languages and communication.
It is good to focus on something when developing your own skills, but it is important to be able to view things from a broader perspective as well. Veera Eskelin encouraged students to attend courses that collaborate with companies and students from different fields. In addition to gaining new perspectives, such courses provide the skills for multidisciplinary collaboration - the skills that are needed in working life.
In the end, the panellists were asked what the three most important things are when students enter working life.
‘Attitude, attitude and attitude’, said Elsa Olmos.
All the panellists agreed. In addition, they wanted to mention expertise, collaboration skills and willingness to develop. But the most important thing is attitude. A person with a good attitude will go a long way in working life.
Photos: Helena Seppälä