An Interview With Tuukka, a Social Data Science Student in Contemporary Societies

The Master’s Programme in Contemporary Societies at the University of Helsinki aims to provide a variety of fields, topics, and phenomena to study. But how do its students feel about the program and the city?

Tuukka Puonti, a first-year Contemporary Societies student, discusses what made him choose the programme, the pros and challenges, and student life in Finland.

The Person and the Programme

Who are you and what were you doing before you joined Contemporary Societies?

My name is Tuukka Puonti and before joining this program I worked for quite awhile before studying Computer Science as my Bachelor’s Degree. I did my studies at the University of Helsinki.

Why did you choose to study in Contemporary Societies and in Social Data Science?

Before starting my studies in Computer Science, I was contemplating between Social Sciences and Computer Science, since I’ve always been interested in both technology and questions regarding societies. Once I found out that Contemporary Societies has a study track called Social Data Science, I knew immediately that it is the right choice for me.

Have you found anything special about studying in Contemporary Societies and your specific study track?

The studies have been really practical. We’ve gotten to work with real data and it gives you this sense of actually having confidence of knowing what to do once you step into the working life. This is a drastic change from the theory-heavy Computer Science studies. It suits me really well. I also feel that Contemporary Societies as a study track in general has a really great community feeling to it.

Studying at Helsinki

When it comes to studying at Helsinki, what does a typical day as a part of this program look like for you?

Depending on how many courses I have chosen for the study period, usually I juggle between lectures and assignments. I personally like to work alone, if there are no group assignments, as it lets me focus. So usually I go to lectures for the day, have lunch with fellow students and head back home to work on assignments. I’m really happy that this program seems to balance workload really well. I haven’t had any trouble balancing studies and free time!

Have you found anything challenging about your studies here?

Well naturally, when you’re a Master’s level student, you are expected to figure things out on your own. Sometimes it gets to you in a way of maybe doubting yourself or skills a little. But gladly, my friends from the university have always been there to encourage me to keep going and get through.

How do you feel about the city and the university as a place to study?

I am biased, since I’ve lived in Helsinki for almost 15 years, but it’s an awesome city! The campus at the city center has many nice buildings and places to study at (also lots of nice coffee shops to study at because of this). Helsinki has pretty extensive public transport, so if you decide to take courses from other campuses, it’s really fairly easy to move between them. For example, taking a bus from the city center campus to Kumpula’s campus takes roughly 15 minutes.

Since you’re from Finland, how is it being in an international program in English here?

Studying in English comes quite naturally for me and, if I have understood correctly, most of the Master’s programs in Finland are in English too. The international part of this program is especially nice. I feel like students who have arrived here from other countries are invested in getting to know Helsinki and the country in general. This has actually made me think about my hometown in new perspectives. It is also really nice to get to know people from all around the world, hopefully some of my new friends will stay and, if not, I’ll be sure to visit them in the future!

Looking Into the Future

What would you say to students who are considering joining the Masters program in Contemporary Societies?

Do it, absolutely! It has been such a thrill to get to know people from all over the world. The teacher’s have been amazing and really helpful. The programme really seems to care about the wellbeing of their students and want to develop it constantly. Just this year we had the first Social Sciences Career Fair to connect students and companies better, which was initiated because us students were asking for an event like this!

What are your near future and long term hopes and plans?

Near future plans include being a research assistant and completing my traineeship. After that I’ll get to completing my thesis and hopefully I can keep my academic track going on all the way to doctoral studies!

Contemporary Societies

In the Master's Programme in Contemporary Societies, you choose from six major subjects:

  • Global Development Studies
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Social and Public Policy
  • Social Data Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology

You also study themes like Data and Society, Ethnic Relations and Migration, Mind and Society, Socio-Cultural Shifts and Sources of Inequalities.