Signposts for the career path

The University of Helsinki has decided to incorporate career orientation and planning in all of its degrees. Other Finnish universities have not made similar explicit decisions. The goal is to support students’ personal solutions and orientation towards the future from the very beginning of studies. The new online service can help. was produced jointly by the University of Helsinki Career Services and the Guidance and Counselling Education and Research Unit of the University of Jyväskylä. The project is headed by the University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+, and the service has been developed with funding from the European Social Fund.

 “People may not even know what career planning is. A research university should understand that career guidance is based on academic research,” says Leena Itkonen, career planning advisor from the University of Helsinki’s Career Services.

"A research university should understand that career guidance is based on academic research."

Putting career knowledge to use is based and operates in parallel with Töissä.fi, a service which launched in 2013. In Töissä.fi, students can browse the career options of their major subjects, find out what kind of studies are needed for their dream job, or read alumni stories about what their everyday work is like. Nearly 20,000 people have responded to the service.

Töissä.fi has compiled all the information which then uses to support its surveys and assignments,” Leena Itkonen summarises.

 “Another guideline in developing Urapolulla was using the latest career planning theories.”

Töissä.fi has received positive feedback. Both students and upper-secondary school pupils have welcomed it as a necessary tool. Its graphic design has also been praised.

 “Career information has been collected before, but it is only now that we have highlighted it in a new way by compiling it into national data,” says Merja Ukkola, head of development at HY+.

The universities have done valuable work. The information is from the career monitoring surveys of Aarresaari, the Career Services Network of Finnish Universities, which has been conducting the surveys since the early 2000s. They include all Finnish universities. Töissä.fi compiles information from the latest four survey years, and the service is constantly being updated.

Supporting life choices

 “Decisions regarding studies are always also decisions which shape the future career of the student,” states Leena Itkonen.

A young person applying for university or choosing studies may not yet be able to picture themselves in their future job, but every choice they make shapes their future. The new degree programmes feature more choice than the previous system – after completing the Bachelor’s programme, students have many options to continue, many of them in multidisciplinary studies. For this reason, career planning is increasingly important for both students and the people supervising their studies.

 “Students may have a very narrow understanding of what kinds of career opportunities their degree can provide,” says Merja Ukkola.

 “The leading message of Töissä.fi is that people with higher education degrees can serve in a wide variety of positions.”

Career planning is increasingly important for both students and the people supervising their studies.

The sites are public and require no registration. This means that the service can benefit upper-secondary school pupils, jobseekers and people changing careers, in addition to university students.

Community tool helps people process complicated and extensive career-planning topics by dividing them into themes which can be studied one by one. Students can consider their values, self-confidence and networks. There is no need to complete the entire career path questionnaire in one setting, as the answers can be saved between sessions.

While students can access the service independently, Leena Itkonen believes a group setting is optimal for considering one’s own interests, skills and wishes. Comparing answers with others makes it easier to comprehend the different themes relating to career options.

 “Saying things out loud makes them normal. People understand that they are not alone with their thoughts,” says Itkonen.

Videos in which recently employed graduates describe their careers are a good introduction for the themes. They tell their stories in their own words and have independently decided how to articulate the skills they need in their work.

 “It’s easier to first see a theme in someone else’s life and then shift the focus to your own choices.”

Alumni, tell us about your career!

Merja Ukkola invites University of Helsinki alumni to participate in the project by sharing their own career stories. Use this easy online form to tell your story.

 “Students are particularly interested in descriptions of a normal day at work and alumni hints for career planning and employment.”

"Students are particularly interested in descriptions of a normal day at work."

Töissä.fi already has more than 600 career stories. They have been told by alumni with a genuine desire to help students and share their experiences, sometimes with some humour thrown in. More information means more optimism: students can see their career path and the future looks bright.