”Alumni activities help new graduates plan their work and career paths”

For Doctoral Researcher Ilse Kaaja, joining the alumni community aided her in considering her professional goals and expectations.

Doctoral Researcher Ilse Kaaja enlisted in the University of Helsinki alumni community right after graduating in 2020. She was interested in the training and networking opportunities available to members.

– I don’t think you should stop learning after you graduate. If I’m offered opportunities to develop further, I’m happy to take them, she says.

Kaaja is now at the beginning of her career. Alumni activities have supported and promoted her career planning. She has attended, for example, personal career coaching sessions and a multiprofessional workshop focused on career planning.

– The workshop helped me identify what I want from my work.

Career coaching provided Kaaja with ideas and tools for how she can use in her thesis work the experience and goal-driven mindset she developed as an elite sportsperson.

– As an athlete, I became accustomed to setting goals and breaking them down into smaller chunks. I tracked my progress day to day, she says.

– Academic work is less prescribed and structured in terms of setting and achieving goals. The parameters used are not necessarily as straightforward as in sport.

A more extensive network for alumni

For Kaaja, another reason to join the alumni community was that she had completed her bachelor’s degree outside Finland. After subsequently studying at the University of Helsinki, she graduated from the two-year Master’s Programme in Translational Medicine, which has only a small number of students.

– The alumni community has expanded my network effectively, she notes.

She believes the alumni community allows new graduates to become part of a wider network.

– For me, the opportunity to network is an important part of alumni activities. I hope it will remain a priority in the coming years as well.

So far, Kaaja has, as a new graduate, enjoyed the benefits of alumni activities, but expects to see a change in roles at some point.

– Of course I’d like to give back by contributing to the alumni community in the future.

Have you studied at the University of Helsinki?

As a member of the University of Helsinki alumni network you get valuable support, knowledge and contacts for your working life. You may share your competence with others and learn more about interesting topics. Or you may, for instance, start mentoring a fresh graduate. Here you can read more about the benefits of the alumni community and join for free.