Henna's story: I found my own path by boldly experimenting with different options

Career story

After comprehensive school, I had no idea what I would become when I grow up. Under those circumstances, continuing my studies in the upper secondary school was a natural, and the only choice that gave me more time to think. When the upper secondary school was approaching its end, I still had no particular interest in any field. I felt left out in the cold, since my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian had turned out impossible because of my allergies.

After upper secondary school, I spent a year working and thinking that the following year I would need to make decisions on where to study. Eventually, I ended up taking entrance exams to study economics and mathematics. I thought I could try out different fields at the university and hoped that one of them would start to feel right for me. I was admitted to the university, and I spent a year and a half there wandering about, mainly studying economics. Although I did well in my studies, the field did not really interest me, and, once again, I woke up to the fact that I needed to do something about the situation.

I felt enthusiastic about the mathematics and statistics courses, so I realised that I wanted to study something that required logical thinking. However, I did not find pure mathematics interesting because I did not know what kind of a job I could find if I studied it. I marched into the vocational guidance psychologist's office, and, once again, was presented with the same fields that I had gone through so many times before. For some reason, I stopped to think what if I became an engineer! In the upper secondary school, I had said that I would never become an engineer, but as chance would have it...

I found an interesting field during my engineering studies

By chance, in January 2009, the university of applied sciences was about to start a programme in information technology engineering. I found out that the basic subjects were the same as in electrical engineering studies. So, I applied to study information technology and started my studies there. In the spring joint application process, I applied to the electrical engineering programme and got my basic studies recognised. To be honest, I knew nothing about electrical engineering and even less about the practical side of the work. Still, I had a feeling that this was my thing. I had the studies that normally take four years completed in just over three years. Naturally, the recognition of the few courses I took at the university of applied sciences helped a bit.

The studies also included on-the-job learning, and in the spring of the last year of studies I got a job at PKS Sähkönsiirto Oy with electrical networks. I started with selling electricity connections and could complete my thesis at the company. After graduation, my employment relationship continued with duties in land use and documentation. From there, my career path took me to the service of my employer’s sister company Enerke Oy.

I’m still on the same path and I currently have a very versatile job description. I mainly do electrotechnical dimensioning design for distribution networks. The work is challenging and diverse, as it allows me to do planning work in the areas of several network companies, and every one of them has slightly different modes of operation. I need to keep up to date on different regulations, standards and recommendations, and on how they are applied in practice. My work also includes updating network information in the network management system, which again requires slightly different expertise than design work. However, the combining factor between all these duties is that I must know how to use different systems. I must also understand the process of building electricity networks as a whole and work with different stakeholders.

Doing aerial inspections is a good counterbalance to computer work

To counterbalance the work I do by the computer, I can participate in fault management and proactive fault prevention. Such situations arise when, for example, trees fall on power lines due to a snow burden or storm. For over five years now, I’ve been working as an aerial inspector, i.e., I observe fault locations and potential future fault locations from a helicopter. In practice, we fly over 20kV power lines in predetermined areas, and I use my computer to record the observations, which go forward in the system in real time. This allows the fault to be repaired as soon as possible or a tree about to fall on the line to be removed before it causes a power cut.

Working as aerial inspector requires good pressure tolerance, and abilities to make quick decisions and do several things at the same time. The helicopter moves quite rapidly, and the pilot steers it exactly in the direction I ask him to. So, I must know at all times where we are on the map and where to go next. At the same time, I must inspect the electrical line and record the observations on the computer. If the helicopter is not needed, I’m happy to participate in the demarcation and search of fault locations also from the ground. I largely carry out my work during normal office hours, but power cuts do not know what time it is, so in such situations, I may have to work at any time of the day.

A good team supports the designer's independent work 

My work has taught me a great deal of things over the years. It has given me a chance to develop my professional skills and work with different people. Although the design work is to a large extent very independent, we have a great work team with whom I can always consider things together. When we seek solutions together, we can solve even the more challenging cases. No one in our group is better than anyone else, so we ask for help and give help whenever someone needs it.  

As a counterbalance to my work, my hobbies are an important way to clear my mind. When I was a child, my other dream job was being a formula 1 driver. As it turned out, I never became one, but motor racing is still very much part of my life as a hobby. On many summer weekends, you will find me racing on one of Finland's motor-racing tracks. In winter, I drive a snowmobile to keep fit and practice agility and rally obedience with my dogs.  

I’ve always been competitive in some way, and I get to realise that part of myself through my hobbies. In working life, I don't want to compete, but that characteristic is, to some extent, reflected in my desire to constantly challenge myself. The reason why I like my job so much is certainly because it allows me to develop and learn new things all the time. The electrical sector is diverse, and there are always new things to learn. I encourage everyone to boldly take up new challenges, even if it feels slightly difficult. Discovering new things and exceeding oneself are things that, at least for me, serve as motivation for my work.  

When, after upper secondary school, I wandered about seeking my own field, I would never have believed what kind of adventures I would find myself in. I encourage everyone wrestling with the same problem to be bold and try out different options. It’s not a good idea to categorise yourself in advance based on your presuppositions, but to approach a variety of fields with an open mind. You will find your own path sooner or later.

Henna Behm