During my last year of high school, I didn’t know what to do; all I wanted to do was read and write fiction, only it didn’t really feel like a realistic career path. We visited the University of Helsinki, and the archaic glow of the main building made an impression on me. My Finnish teacher recommended that I would apply to the university to study literature with a view to becoming a teacher.
Already at the first study guidance event for future Finnish teachers, I realized it wasn’t for me. I was a literature studies freshman back then. I loved the arts and hoarded them as my subsidiary subjects: advanced aesthetics and Finnish language with Finnish literature, philosophy, movie and TV studies, Latin, French and German on the side. Of course, I also took way more literary studies courses than the Programme were necessary to complete.
Then came the panic: where could an Arts major ever get a job? I took advanced communications and information science, tried writing book reviews and did my internship at Otava, a well-known Finnish publishing house. I also ran two book clubs, but that ended up being all I did at our student association Katharsis.
Towards the end of my studies, I surprisingly found a new university family as I took part in the Humanistispeksi, an interactive musical put on by arts students. With barely any knowledge of speksi, I was suddenly acting and writing scripts and lyrics, and that’s where I am today — one way or another, I’ve been a part of seven productions.
It turns out, I spent years panicking about my future employment in vain; immediately after having written my thesis on Peter Pan and subsequently graduating, I got my first temporary job at the Töölö Library — in the children’s department, of course. Young adult and children’s literature took me into their embrace, and currently I work at another district library in Helsinki, the Oulunkylä library. Half of my working time, I give book talks to groups of children and young adults from Helsinki, host storytimes, organize events for children and dress up in funny costumes.
A year ago, my dream came true, as my first novel Kaarnan kätköissä was published. I don’t only read fiction as a part of my job anymore — now I write it, too! Kiven sisässä, the second part of my ‘Väkiveriset’ fantasy series, came out in 2017, and the third part Veden vallassa was published in 2018.
As for my tip for freshers, I want to quote J.K. Rowling: “Don’t let the muggles get you down!” Don’t give up or duck out of taking the courses you are really interested. What I regret the most about my time at the university is all that time I spent worrying about employment!