Interview with Tiina Naskali - Organizing the career planning course for students

Tiina Naskali
Academic Affairs Officer
University of Helsinki
Department of Food and Enviromental Sciences

You were one of the organizers of the 2011 course on career planning for students (Career opportunities: Food Sciences). what was this all about?

We organized the first Curriculum for Career Viikki for degree students in autumn 2011. Arranging obligatory internships for international degree students is often challenging, and we decided to allow substituting the training period for a CFC-format career planning course as part of the degree structure. The course allows compensating internships worth 1 ECTS credit.

We judged that a general-level course like this would benefit from cooperation. Instead of several small courses, the students would be able to take the course in a more diverse group of students, which allows them to get to know other students and gather knowledge from other fields.

How was the course received among the international students?

International degree students, our main target group, considered the course very useful. Many were interested in an internship, post-graduate studies or a summer job in Finland. The course gave them practical tips for finding a job, and the interview part of the course gave them a contact with the working life. Many appreciated the simulated interview situation, since most of the students were not familiar with the Finnish recruiting system.

What did the students learn during the course?

They wrote (or updated) their job application documents, and some established contacts with potential internship locations. In addition, many students gained confidence to approach employers.

How did you get the employers interested?

We used our alumnus data among other things; some of our graduated students had promised to be available for interviews or lectures. Besides, a large part of the employers relate to courses such as these positively, which helped us to organize the career day.

Are you going to offer a similar course in the future?

We plan to begin preparations for the next autumn’s CFC Viikki course in the beginning of May.

How important are these courses to students?

Very important. There is a real shortage of working-life-oriented courses in institutions of higher education, especially in universities. Internships alone do not teach the students job-hunting skills, although they are very important on an individual level. Moreover, international students also face a language barrier when contacting employers. Therefore it is great that a relatively simple course such as this can open doors to these students and encourage them.

Tiina Naskali MSc, MSocSc, Academic Affairs Officer (MScFood, EMFOL, MENVI, MBIOT)
Department of Food and Environmental Sciences