Heidi's story: Even a twisting path can lead to the right place 

Career story

At lower secondary school, I did not yet know what I would like to do in the future. I went to upper secondary school, but even in those three years, I did not get a clear picture of where I would head. 

I am creative, I like to use my hands and I liked to make hairdos at that time, so the idea of hairdressing field started to interest me. After upper secondary school, I ended up studying hairdressing, which I completed on a school bench for one year and two years working with an apprenticeship. The work was quite nice, but the most favourite working days for me were the few days when an inventory had to be made and I was able to list and count products in the shop. This told me that maybe hairdressing was not exactly the right direction for my career. However, I completed my studies and after graduation I directly took maternity leave. 

Motherhood was a great dream of mine, and I enjoyed living at home for four years, caring for my two sons. At some point I realised that being a stay-at-home mom does not last forever and I should think about what I want to do in the future. As a result of my reflections, I applied to study as a Bachelor of Social Services at a university of applied sciences.

Practical work was emphasised in the Bachelor of Social Services studies, but I already had the dream of focusing more on the office environment. A suitable place for an information worker was not opened immediately after my studies, so by chance I ended up as a teacher of early childhood education and care.

I enjoyed the work, even though it was not what I was aiming for. Communality, a good team and a suitably varied job made me stay in the field for over a year. However, in my studies I had focused on adult social work, so I did not want to get stuck to a position for which I had no qualifications.

I started to work as a family worker in child welfare. As a topic, it was closer to what I had focused on in my studies, but as a job very far from the information work I had dreamed of. I also realised early on that shift work and working at people's home were too far away from my comfort zone. I did not feel well in the work. I made the only decision I could do and quit after six months. I went back to my duties as a teacher of early childhood education and care.

TE Services found a job suitable for me

After six months of substitution, I became unemployed for the first time in my life, at the age of 32. I had been wandering from task to task. I got tired of having no direction in my career and no stability in my working life. After stressing at home for six months, I noticed that rehabilitation specialists were sought at the TE Office. I applied for the job immediately, in addition to a few other jobs related to employment services.

Fortunately, I was seen to have potential even though I had no previous experience in the field. I got the job as a TE Services specialist, with supported employment clients. Already on the first day of my new job, I felt like I finally had a job that I had been aiming for years. The office environment felt cosy and the topic was interesting. Flexible working hours and the opportunity to work partly remotely were a jackpot for my life situation, when I had two small schoolchildren at home. The work also included a suitable balance between work with clients and independent work.

I enjoyed my work very well from the beginning and after a few months I got a permanent post. For the first time in my life, my career had a direction and job stability. I enjoyed this equilibrium for a few years, until a major organisational reform was carried out at my workplace, which allowed me to get to a new position through internal search: education services. This has been the latest change of direction in my career.  

For the past two years, I have worked as a competence development specialist at TE Services. I develop and manage local labour market training and coaching services. In my work, I get to work extensively in different networks and participate in a wide range of projects. As a result of the position, I have become interested in more extensive entities and development tasks. Therefore, I have just started bachelor's degree studies alongside my work – focusing on anticipation and development.  

I have finally found my place in working life and have also gained a lot of confidence in my own competence over the past few years. It now feels very distant that, in the past, I have studied the latest hair fashions, organised song play sessions at a day-care centre and taken a young child welfare customer on a forest excursion. My career has been colourful to say the least, and the path has not always been clear at all. I can at least say that I have experience of a wide range of tasks. It is beneficial to me now as I work with employment services and various sectors.

No step on the career path is pointless  

To those who feel that they have taken the wrong turn on their career path, I would like to say that no step is pointless. The main thing is to move forward. Few of us find their dream job from their first workplace. However, while waiting for the right job, it is a good idea to do something and not stay still. Every contact in working life can mean a decisive step towards the next job opportunity, and all accumulated skills can one day be useful.

Various tasks have taught me to recognise my strengths and weaknesses and clarified my direction along the way. The path has been long, but perseverance and moving towards goals have been worthwhile. To quote Steve Jobs: “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

What about my tendency for creativity and crafting? It is still strongly present, and I use my creativity in various renovation projects, as well as in knitting. You can have several strengths and interests: some of them can be implemented at work and some in your free time. The most important thing is to understand what kind of work makes you feel good, which topics interest you and what is needed to find your thing. Then you just need the courage to take steps forward, and it does not matter if you sometimes miss a step. Changes of direction are part of life.

Heidi Vuorela