Career

As a graduate of the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, you will have the competence to pursue a career or to continue your studies at the doctoral level.

According to the statistics of the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists, the current employment situation for new graduates is positive. Graduates have found employment in Finland and abroad as experts in the following fields:

  • Research and product development (universities, research institutes, companies, industry)
  • Administration and expert positions (ministries, supervisory agencies, EU, FAO)
  • Business and management (companies)
  • Teaching, training and consultation (universities, universities of applied sciences, organisations, development cooperation projects)
  • Communication (universities, media, companies, ministries, organisations)
  • Entrepreneurship (self-employment)

More information e.g. on the website of the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists.

Studies are part of your career. At the University of Helsinki, all degrees include career planning. The Career Services at the University of Helsinki, in cooperation with degree programmes, supports the growth of your expert identity as part of your studies and with separate services.

From the start of your studies until one year after the completion of your degree, the Career Services supports your career path.

Career Services  

  • gives career counselling and job seeking support, 
  • arranges info sessions, workshops and events, 
  • provides suitable job and traineeship offers for students,
  • shares university’s subsidy for traineeships and  
  • facilitates group mentoring programmes.

Check out the Career Services on the Instructions for students “Work and Career” and “Traineeships”. 

Liisa Pesonen graduated with a degree in agrotechnology and works as a researcher at the Jokioinen office of Natural Resource Institute Finland.

1. What did you study?

I studied agrotechnology in Viikki.

2. What do you do for a living?

I am a researcher at Natural Resource Institute Finland. Currently, I lead a sixteen-member research team that studies and develops data management and machine automation for future plant cultivation farms. Our theme is smart machines in a smart environment. The work entails extensive cooperation with Finnish and international research groups, technology industry in the field, and the end users of the technology, i.e., farmers.

3. How does the future look in your field?

The future of my field looks fascinating. Our field is strongly affected by global development trends both in terms of technological development and agricultural raw material production. What is fascinating is that, because we research future technological solutions, we also affect the future development of our field of study and the content of our own work.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

I have plenty of fun memories from my active student life, one of the greatest of which is the washing and capping of Havis Amanda on one May Day’s eve as part of the official capping team of the University of Helsinki Student Union. As for the studies themselves, my best memories have to do with completing practical electronics assignments in my major subject. Our task was often to find the true purpose of a lump of metal placed in front of us. Our methods consisted of trial and error (since manuals were for amateurs), which usually resulted in quite enlightening learning sessions. We probably put quite a strain on the fuses of the classroom and the teacher alike.

Laura Kihlström, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, works as a project assistant at the Unit for Sectoral Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki.  

1. What did you study?

I studied plant production sciences, especially agroecology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry on the Viikki Campus. In addition, I completed a study module in development studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences as well as courses in extension education and, during my student exchange period in Uppsala, Sweden, tropical agriculture and ecology.

2. What do you do for a living?

At the moment I am a fixed-term project assistant at the Unit for Sectoral Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I am an assistant to the Senior Adviser in rural development and agriculture. My work entails preparing background reports, writing reports and speeches, issuing comments on statements and attending meetings. The best thing about this job is to be able to work on topics that I studied for my degree on a daily basis. I also like the fact that I must always keep abreast of new information and events in agriculture as much as possible. In addition, I like working in an international environment, which is what the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is. I will soon look for a fieldwork position abroad in order to put my studies in agriculture and development studies into practice. 

3. How does the future look in your field?

I daresay that it looks quite good, because people will continue to be needing food. Trends such as the demand for organic and local food as well as the effects of climate change on food production will generate employment opportunities in the future. I encourage all students at Viikki to also consider international career opportunities. There is demand for experts in the field abroad. In addition, they should use social media to familiarise themselves with the field and to contact potential employers. Twitter, for instance, is a great way to stay updated on what happens in agriculture. If possible, students should also consider completing their special practical training at the end of their studies – I do not know if the current Personal Study Plan regulations enable this, but I should think it increases career opportunities after graduation.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

There are a lot of them! I remember well some good courses and lectures, as well as those moments of epiphany when I realised my opinion was not perhaps all that well-grounded and I learned to see things from a different perspective. Working in student organisations was also very rewarding. I was active in the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) throughout my studies, and I got to know students and employers in the field from all over the world as well as to hone my leadership and presentation skills.

Hanna Help, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, is a doctoral student in Professor Ykä Helariutta’s research group at the Department of Biosciences and the Institute of Biotechnology on the Viikki Campus.
  1. What did you study?

    I studied plant production sciences, especially plant breeding and plant biotechnology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry on the Viikki Campus. After completing my Master’s degree I moved on to doctoral studies in plant production sciences, although I physically work at the facilities of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Institute of Biotechnology on the other side of the campus. My dissertation analyses the roles of phytohormones, hormonal interaction and their effects on various genes in the regulation of cellular differentiation in the vascular tissue of plants. My microscope is particularly focused on factors affecting the formation of xylem cells.

    2. What do you do for a living?

    I am currently banging away at my various dissertation projects in Professor Ykä Helariutta’s research group.

    3. How does the future look in your field?

    I have not yet decided whether I want to continue in academia once I finish my doctorate. Considering my training in plant biotechnology, the corporate sector is a tempting option, and I would like to use my knowledge and skills to create practical applications in the fields of, for example, process engineering or pharmacy. I believe there are many job opportunities in Finland for researchers with skills like mine, and I am intrigued about a career in the forest industry or other research institutes. However, I must also point out that an international postdoctoral position of a year or two is also an enticing option, because I love academia!

    4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

    The Nordic post graduate (NOVA) summer course for plant improvement students in Mustiala was one of the finest and most memorable courses in terms of both its great milieu and relaxed atmosphere as well as the scientifically diverse syllabus! I recommend that all students make use of available courses with an open mind, including courses offered by other faculties and universities. In addition, I want to encourage current students to personalise their degrees with optional courses and minor subject modules as well as to actively contact the research groups on campus to complete traineeships. For me, it was summer traineeships, part-time jobs and my Master's thesis project that showed me that practical experience is invaluable in the planning of my future and my career.

Jussi Joensuu, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, works as a researcher at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd in Espoo.

1. What did you study?

I studied plant production sciences, especially crop science and plant biotechnology, on the Viikki Campus. I completed my doctoral studies at the Faculty of Biosciences. My Master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation dealt with developing an edible vaccine for piglets that can be produced in plants.

2. What do you do for a living?

After completing my studies I have worked as a researcher in Belgium and Canada. Currently, I work at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, where I am part of a team developing new technologies for protein production. In addition, I have a farm in the Etelä-Häme region of Finland.

3. How does the future look in your field?

I believe that biotechnology will have a crucial role to play in the future development of medicine and many branches of industry. I would like to see more companies and industry in the field in Finland. I also believe that agricultural production in Finland will continue in the future.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

My best memories are related to understanding “life” through studying biochemistry. Different practical courses were the best way to memorise and remember things.