Our graduates have had success in finding meaningful employment and have secured careers in a variety of fields, for example:
If you are interested in further developing your expertise, you can pursue postgraduate studies through the doctoral programmes offered by the University of Helsinki, another university in Finland, or abroad.
According to the labour market surveys conducted by the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists, graduates from the study track in Agricultural Economics have been successful in finding employment – often before graduation. The programme alumni have found positions in various organisations in the public and private sectors in Finland. Many have also pursued international careers in Europe or further afield. This study programme provides you with wide-ranging skills for starting a business and for serving in various expert or managerial positions, even if the focus of studies is on applied agriculture. Consequently, possible job titles are numerous: specialist, teacher, entrepreneur, researcher, senior officer, product manager, head of finance, etc.
The study track Environmental and Resource Economics offers promising career paths in government, research, consultancy, industry, NGOs, and international organisations. Based on the recent career monitoring data covering years 2003-2016 the main work assignments of graduates from the study track are related to:
To obtain a better view of some the career possibilities, please read the alumni interviews below.
Studies are an intergral 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, support the growth of your expert identity during your studies through their myriad of services.
From the start of your studies until one year after the completion of your degree, the Career Services supports your career path.
Although it is easy for international students to get by with English in the Helsinki region, learning Finnish will significantly expand your career options after graduation.
The University of Helsinki offers free Finnish language courses for enrolled international degree students. The beginners and intermediate level courses are not only a way to learn the language, but you also learn more about Finnish culture and get to network with other international students across the fields.
Information about the Finnish courses for international students in the Instructions for students.
MANY APPROACHES TO AGRICULTURE
When Antti Jaakkola was deciding where to study, his options were the University and forestry studies at a university of applied sciences. He picked Viikki and agricultural economics.
“I want to get to the very bottom of the issues that interest me, I'm not satisfied with easy answers. As my primary interests are nature and the economy, the choice was fairly obvious. On the Viikki Campus, I can easily combine studies in biology, agriculture, economics, agricultural policy and technology. As minor subjects, I can take anything from food and agrotechnology to management and communications,” Jaakkola explains.
After three full years of studies at the University, Jaakkola feels that studying at the University has met his expectations.
“The biggest surprise has been that as my studies progress, I find out more and more things I don’t know.”
Jaakkola finds the connection of economics with the environment interesting. After graduation, he hopes to work in the private sector in the agricultural or food trade or in procurement.
“The main goal in current agriculture is to find sensible and financially viable ways of transitioning to more environmentally friendly practices," Jaakkola muses.
“I completed my traineeship at the grain trade unit of Raisio Ltd, where I got to work on my Bachelor's thesis as part of their carbon footprint research. I may write my Master's thesis on the same topic.”
Raisio’s research efforts seek to calculate the farm-specific environmental indices for carbon emissions and power consumption. After that, he will try to set a monetary value to the index and investigate whether there is a correlation between the farm’s financial results and the environmental index.
During his first summer after starting his studies, Jaakkola worked at an experimental farm run by Lännen Tehtaat PLC for his agricultural traineeship. He got to determine the harvest calendars for peas.
“As a Viikki student, it’s really easy to find a summer job in your field,” Jaakkola states.
Jaakkola spent much of the past year working at his subject-specific student organisation. Until the Christmas break, he served as the chair of the organisation for agricultural sciences students, Sampsa.
“It was like a year of studying leadership and communications,” Jaakkola describes his stint as chair, and states he would recommend working at a student organisation for everyone.
“Working at an organisation will give you more than important skills. You will also gain new friends and connections from different disciplines at the University and from the business world, too."
Student life at Viikki is active and community oriented. Jaakkola says that particularly students emigrating from outside Helsinki, with no established social circles here, will find it very easy to make new friends and discover things to do.
“If you’re looking for sports, there's a lot of activities, particularly ball games. In terms of culture, there are guided wine and beer tastings, and we're currently planning a trip to see a play in Tallinn."
In addition to classic student parties, there are field trips and seminars arranged in cooperation with companies, organisations and associations in the agricultural and food industries.
“The best example of this is the annual trip to the provinces. The trip combines all of the above activities over three to four days in a different part of Finland every year.”
Erik Lindroos studied agricultural economics as a major subject. In addition to a job, his degree gave him a good foundation for the future.
“I grew up on a farm, so it felt natural to apply for the Viikki Campus where the focus is on nature. I was also interested in economics, so agricultural economics seemed like a good fit,” Erik Lindroos says.
Lindroos studied his major subject, agricultural economics, at the Department of Economics. He took environmental economics as a minor subject.
“I was interested in environmental economics because I wanted to understand environmental issues better. They are essential for agricultural policy and often underpin all decisions,” he explains.
University studies provided Lindroos with the skills to grasp new things and to master broad issues. The University also taught him to commit to his work.
“My major subject studies in agricultural economics gave me a good foundation for understanding the basic requirements and operating environment of agriculture,” Lindroos states.
FRIENDS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF STUDENT LIFE
At the beginning of his studies, Lindroos focused on his cross-country skiing career, with a goal of completing 50 credits per year. After he stopped pursuing skiing, he started to accrue more credits.
“I planned my studies together with my friends, because it was easier to study in a group. I found the course information from the course catalogue, but more student guidance would have been helpful in planning my studies,” Lindroos muses.
Lindroos also places particular emphasis on student organisations.
“They are very important. You can make friends for life, and many of these friends will also become your colleagues. People learn better in conversation, and you get to hone your social skills,” Lindroos emphasises.
He also considers his sporting hobby, and the associated skill of winning and losing, as another asset.
“Sport helps you focus. This is useful in the professional world, where working under pressure and taking on criticism are essential skills,” Lindroos says.
THE DEGREE THAT BECAME A JOB
Lindroos is currently working at an American-German company which breeds and sells sugar beet seeds. He is based in Frankfurt.
“I’m responsible for the yield of the sugar beet varieties and their monitoring in twelve countries. I serve as the link between the American breeders and the market. My work involves travelling, official variety testing as well as meetings with industry representatives.”
His work requires good social skills and the ability to work under pressure.
“The most interesting thing about my work is that I get to see new places and people and to work internationally in agriculture. I appreciate the opportunity to work in an environment with high work morale where I can learn about agriculture and the agricultural trade in general,” Lindroos continues.
His skiing career meant Lindroos spent few summers working, but he still completed the traineeship for his degree at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. He has also worked at the central union of Swedish-speaking agricultural producers in Finland (SLC) and has served as the representative of a refinery company during his studies.
“I would not have my current job if I hadn’t gotten the degree I did, that’s for sure. My degree has also helped me meet my employer's expectations and provided the foundation for my whole career," Lindroos says.
JOY FROM STUDIES
Lindroos hopes that University studies will have a closer connection to the world of work in the future.
“Right now, conversational skills are a key career requirement - you must be able to make an argument and assert your opinion," he says.
However, Lindroos believes the main thing is to enjoy studying, and this is his advice for other students.
“Studying is a wonderful time. You get new perspectives on things from your studies. Put some real effort into your assignments and talk about them with other students. Ask older students for advice. It’s also a good idea to select a broad range of courses and to build your network. Work experience is also always useful.”
SAVING THE WORLD
Hanna-Liisa Kangas was supposed to become an environmental chemist until a doctor forbade her from setting foot in a laboratory. After many twists and turns, Kangas did wind up in an influential position, working with the issues dear to her heart.
“I started studying chemistry at the University of Helsinki because I thought I could use it to save the world. Then I became allergic to the reagents used at the lab, and my doctor told me never to set foot in a laboratory again. He said it would be too dangerous for me,” says Hanna-Liisa Kangas.
Kangas still wanted to study an environmental field, and started to look for interesting disciplines which did not require laboratory work. This meant ecology, forestry sciences and biology had to be dismissed outright.
“Then I discovered environmental economics. And so, through a series of strange coincidences, I wound up studying environmental economics at the Department of Economics and Management,” Kangas explains.
AN ACCIDENTAL CHOICE LED TO A DISSERTATION
Kangas sees her introduction to the world of environmental economics as a happy coincidence.
“I’ve really come to like this field. Professor Markku Ollikainen in particular was an immense help to me when I was looking for a job, working on my Bachelor’s or trying to find a Master’s thesis topic,” Kangas says.
She wanted to complete her University studies as quickly as possible.
“I was 24 when I enrolled, and for some reason I thought I was incredibly old. I wanted to get through the undergraduate stage as quickly as possible and get started with my doctoral studies,” Kangas recounts.
Her career has been research focused.
"I wrote my thesis for a project at the University, which took a year. After that, I went to work at the Finnish Forest Research Institute. There I participated in a climate project focusing on renewable bioenergy and forest carbon for about five years. I started working on my dissertation for the University of Helsinki around the same time," Kangas explains.
BECOMING A TOP PROFESSIONAL
Without her dissertation, Kangas would have been unlikely to land her current job.
“I’m interested in climate politics and policies that promote renewable energy, and I want to become a top professional in these topics. This has also made it possible for me to work as an expert in this field,” says Kangas.
After her dissertation, Kangas worked as a climate coordinator at WWF Finland.
“I was in charge of the climate and energy work WWF does in Finland. I had an extensive range of duties, but most of them had to do with political involvement and lobbying, meeting with decision-makers. We were also running a campaign which sought to involve consumers and companies in climate-friendly action and politics,” Kangas explains.
At the moment, Kangas is working at Finnish Environment Institute as a Senior Research Scientist. Her jobs have given Kangas the opportunity to work for a better world.
“It’s rewarding to be working with such a big environmental challenges. I’m not working to increase a company’s profit margin, I’m working to ensure a better life for coming generations. This means there’s a pretty intense motivation,” Kangas says.
UNUSUAL DEGREES ARE A TRUMP CARD ON THE JOB MARKET
Her studies have played a major role in Kangas’s professional success.
“Thanks to my education I can speak the language they use in the corporate world and in politics. I can speak to both politicians and companies. We have only lately started to understand the full breadth of the significance the economy has in environmental problems, particularly in climate and energy issues. These issues are often based on the fundamental points and theories of environmental economics. Understanding them makes it possible for me to keep pace with global developments,” Kangas muses.
She would have wanted to include more communications and interaction skills in her degree.
“Communications skills aren’t really emphasised at the University, which is a shame. They are a huge part of the world of work, and something we need every day, whether we’re in a meeting, doing interviews, or writing letters to the editor or media releases. During my studies, I took every communications course I could find. However, they were focused on the academic world, and most graduates will not go on to work as researchers,” Kangas points out.
She also wishes there would have been more emphasis on teamwork skills.
“In their current form, studies at the University largely consist of working and studying independently. However, at work, I hardly ever do anything alone. It’s always a group, so group work skills are important. We should know how to share successes and failures with others,” Kangas says.
GO WITH WHAT INTERESTS YOU
Kangas wants to encourage students to choose exactly the kinds of courses they are interested in.
“Don’t think about what will boost your career or which subjects you should take for that. Turn that thinking around and think about what interests you, no matter how far apart the different topics may be. For me, a combination of chemistry and environmental economics was a good one. It’s these unexpected combinations of subjects that make degrees a little unusual, which means they can help you stand out on the job market,” Kangas states.
EDUCATION IS A SPRINGBOARD FOR A CAREER
Kiira Happonen discovered her specialisation in energy. Studies in environmental economics gave her the foundation for her career.
“At the end of upper secondary school, I was interested in environmental studies, but the hard sciences, biology or chemistry, didn't seem appealing. Then I discovered environmental economics which combines both the environment and economics, a field that had fascinated me for some time,” says Kiira Happonen.
Happonen studied environmental economics as a major subject at the Department of Economics and Management between 2005 and 2012.
“My primary minor subject was economics, as it supported my major subject studies. My other minor subject was English philology, as it was one of the disciplines I originally considered. In addition, I completed the multidisciplinary minor subject module in environmental studies,” Happonen explains.
Happonen had no specific target schedule for her graduation.
“In the beginning, I completed studies at a fairly brisk pace, close to 80 credits per year. Later I slowed down a little, as I went to South Dakota for a one-semester student exchange. After that I worked for a year and a half while writing my Master’s thesis. But graduating in five years was never a necessity for me,” Happonen points out.
She says the discipline of environmental economics has a good atmosphere.
“It’s a fairly small discipline, so the professors and teachers were always easy to reach. We had quite a bit of interaction, from casual chats to course feedback and planning future courses. I was very happy there,” Happonen says.
MOTIVATED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY
Happonen discovered her own specialisation towards the end of her Bachelor’s degree studies.
“I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on bioethanol. After that, I did a traineeship at the Energy Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. These two things combined to spark my interest in the energy business and energy issues. After that, I worked on renewable energy subsidies at the University for one summer. Then I got a summer job at the energy company Helen Ltd in the same field,” says Happonen.
After that she wrote a Master’s thesis on biofuels and found her current job at Helen Ltd.
“My first job at Helen was an expert position in energy production planning. I also became involved in the company’s development programme towards a carbon-neutral future, primarily in terms of biofuels. For the last three years I have been working as a portfolio manager in Helen’s portfolio management team. My work consists of electricity price hedging, derivative trading and electricity and fuel market analysis. I also participate in fuel procurement, my focus being on wood pellets. In addition to actually sourcing wood pellets, I closely follow the biofuel markets and still take part in the company’s biofuel-related projects,” Happonen says.
Happonen has liked her work because she has learned so many new things.
“For example, I have learned things about power plant technology and the energy market that were never discussed at the University. The energy field is undergoing a sea change, and the objectives relating to the climate and renewable energy create certain constraints for our operations. It’s interesting to be a part of developing new solutions for how biofuels are used, for example.”
LEARNING BY DOING
According to Happonen, previous experience is important for finding jobs.
“My studies in environmental economics were a solid foundation, but my previous work experience was also very significant. In addition to my theses themselves, the fact that I wrote my Master’s thesis for the company I’m currently working at surely had something to do with me getting this job. Similarly, my previous experience in energy issues was a deciding factor when I got the first summer job in my field.”
According to Happonen, the University can provide students with useful skills for the future.
“For example, understanding the basic principles of emissions trading and the subsidy mechanisms for renewable energy has been an asset in my work. The University hones information seeking skills and the ability to filter out the irrelevant. I have also found use for the mathematics that was required for my environmental economics studies. In general I have benefitted from having competence in both economics and environmental and climate policy,” Happonen muses.
In addition, she believes the choice of summer jobs and Master’s thesis topic can be defining factors in determining the future career. However, she would have wanted to get more IT skills with her degree.
“Do focus on learning to use Excel and other similar software, as you will be using them every day. Also consider that work may be hectic and involve multitasking, so you should not get too tied up in the details. You have to get the job done on schedule as well as you can. In comparison during my studies I had time to hone everything to perfection and focus on the outcome,” Happonen says.
HOBBIES FOR PERSONAL GROWTH
During her studies, Happonen served in elected positions at both her student nation and her subject-specific student organisation.
“These positions taught me organisational skills, responsibility and teamwork. Working in a subject-specific organisation also meant that I could network with students in my field, who can later prove to be valuable professional contacts,” Happonen points out.
She advises students to manage their career dreams.
“Don’t expect to find a job that exactly corresponds to your degree, or that your degree will give you all the skills you will need at work. I think education is more of a springboard and a good foundation for a career. However, you can’t go into working life expecting to only do things you’ve learned at university. It’s a good thing to have to do other things and learn something new,” says Happonen.
Sanna-Helena Fallenius swears by the benefits of cross-disciplinary, unique degrees. She built extensive professional networks during her studies, and has found interesting work thanks to them.
“I originally applied to study biology in addition to plant production sciences. However, I ultimately selected plant production sciences at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Viikki is a more multidisciplinary environment and can provide more opportunities for employment,” says Sanna-Helena Fallenius.
Fallenius later switched majors, first to agricultural policy and then to agricultural economics.
“I’ve always been interested in the food industry, so I wanted to focus on agricultural economics," she explains.
INITIATIVE IN STUDIES IS KEY
Fallenius did not stress over her studies; she wanted them to progress at a natural pace.
“I did want good grades for my courses, and I thought I would graduate in five or six years," she remembers.
She believes it is particularly beneficial to let students take responsibility for their own studies.
“The atmosphere is great at the Department of Economics, especially in the discipline of agricultural policy. The staff also encourages the students to take responsibility for themselves. I think it’s very important to take initiative in your studies," says Fallenius.
SOLID COMPETENCE OPENS DOORS
Fallenius has worked as an aide for Member of Parliament Sirkka-Liisa Anttila and as a agricultural ombudsman at the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners.
“I accrued an extraordinarily broad variety of work experience already during my studies. For example, I had a summer job at a bank, working in agricultural finance. I’ve also worked as a researcher,” she explains.
At the moment, Fallenius’s work at the European Parliament as an assistant for Riikka Manner deals with agricultural, environmental and forestry legislation.
“It’s been interesting to find out about the EU’s decision-making processes and legal system, as well as its various institutions. My previous and current work has given me a profound understanding of agricultural policy," she states.
Fallenius believes her studies have been very beneficial for both finding jobs and doing the work.
“Employers are interested in cross-disciplinary degrees, as they provide graduates with better skills to understand big, complex issues. Such skills are definitely an asset on the job market,” she says.
STUDIES ARE TRAINING IN CRITICAL THINKING
Fallenius believes that university studies teach students the theoretical underpinnings of the discipline and overall critical thinking skills.
“Students must be able to question and challenge issues. That way they can always stay one step ahead and participate actively in the developments around them.”
Fallenius also encourages students to participate in subject-specific student organisations.
“It is very important to build your networks during your studies. Knowing people is essential – I’ve landed all my jobs so far based on my personal connections. During my studies, I was involved in several organisations: in my subject-specific student organisation, the student nation, the Student Union and in my labour union. All the connections I made in these organisations have been useful,” she emphasises.
Another recommendation from Fallenius is to study languages.
“Absolutely go on a student exchange, if you have any interest in it or in an international career. In addition to English, it’s a good idea to also study French, Spanish or another major global language. Make sure you get solid basic language skills at the University, because you will be able to practice these skills in your work."
Viivi Wanhalinna was interested in all components of the food chain and wanted to find out more about them. In addition to academic pursuits, her studies at the University have yielded a job in London and a great deal of international experience.
“I had dreamed of becoming a riding teacher after upper secondary school, but I found myself at massage school. However, I was diagnosed with diabetes during my massage studies, and I became interested in nutrition and food products,” explains Viivi Wanhalinna.
Her cousin told her about the studies offered by the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, and she was particularly interested in the major subjects taught at Viikki.
“My major subject was food technology. As minors I chose environmental economics in addition to the compulsory food chemistry part, since I am interested in the environment. I later completed Master’s level studies in agricultural policy,” she recounts.
Wanhalinna had no specific graduation schedule in mind. As she explains, “I wanted to study as much as I could about all the topics that I found interesting. In terms of grades, I just wanted to do my best. The Department of Economics had a good atmosphere, and it was always easy to find support for my studies.”
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE OPENS DOORS
Wanhalinna has worked in many different sections of the food chain.
“I’ve completed several traineeships at the University. In addition I went on student exchange to Spain and to Rome to the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. I also had a summer job every year. I’ve worked in food production, in sales at food companies and at a food laboratory. I wrote my Master’s thesis for MTT Agrifood Research Finland,” she explains.
She's working as a food sector specialist at consultancy company (Atao Oy) developing food safety systems for food industry. She has also started her PhD studies relating to responsible investing and food sector. According to Wanhalinna, the University teaches its students to be better thinkers.
“I learned how to write well, how to plan goals and document everything. For example, I learned how to approach a problem and how to proceed.”
FOCUS ON LANGUAGE STUDIES
Wanhalinna encourages all students to study languages and to take advantage of the opportunity to go on a student exchange.
“Do study languages, they are always useful. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of all international exchange and traineeship opportunities. They are a great chance to see what is going on outside Finland or the University of Helsinki. And a shorter, six-month exchange shouldn't be too intimidating,” Wanhalinna says.
She also suggests that students participate in student organisations.
“It’s fun and the organisations offer a wide range of different events. Also take advantage of the University’s broad range of studies, also beyond your own discipline. It’s a good way to expand your horizons.”
After graduation, the world is wide open and full of possibilities. How can you venture forward to make the career path you want? What kind of work would you like to do? What kind of life should you lead? The Helsinki alumni community is there to support you as you transition from the University to the world of work.
All previous University of Helsinki degree and exchange students, as well as staff, are our alumni. As a member of the University of Helsinki alumni network, Finland’s largest network of experts, you get valuable support, knowledge and contacts for your working life.