Janne's story: Does the job meet your needs?

Career story

Work has an instrumental value, not an intrinsic value. Work is a way to achieve other instrumental or intrinsic values such as promoting things. It may be difficult to place work as an instrumental value, as in Finland, work has sometimes been regarded as an intrinsic value. Is that why we call some professions vocations? Jobs that, in the world of rising prices, are unable to meet the requirements of an instrumental value.

If I’m honest with myself, I’ve always regarded work as an instrumental value, a means of achieving something else. My home municipality had a paper mill halfway through my educational path. Even though it was a major employer, the parents of anyone close to me were not working at the factory in question. A lot of things were rumours. One theme was the salary level.

Until then, my scouting hobby had continued for about six years, and I wondered what could be a better place to promote the natural values highlighted by the hobby and education than a paper mill. When I improve the paper manufacturing processes, I could work to promote the intrinsic values that are important to me, while at the same time safeguarding my life financially. I could use the work as an instrumental value to achieve higher-value targets.

In my opinion, this was a good idea, but when my Master of Science degree studies in process engineering were completed at the University of Oulu, they decided to close down the factory. At that time, this factory was the only large-scale process plant in my region, and the closure of the factory forced me to reconsider my career plan. When I was near graduating, it was time to gather the things that the work could get me to the left of the equation and try to maximise the input to the right of the equation.

My life is not the sum of the components but the input and the same applies to my working life

To sort out my own wishes, I was helped by my versatile work history in areas such as trade, property maintenance, industrial maintenance and youth work. I’d also worked at a machine repair shop, IT service, laboratory, process industry and supervisory work, at least in work practice, before I turned 25. The exclusion procedure would certainly make it easy to choose a profession? What would I not want to do? Well, it didn't help, because all the work was interesting in its own way and provided certain benefits. The question had to be dismantled by means of auxiliary questions. Do I know what I’m looking for in the future and why?

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the physical preconditions for survival must be secured first. It's logical. The work must provide me with a sufficient pay. In the second place in the hierarchy of needs, there is security and a sense of belonging. The work shouldn't be too dangerous even at the mental image level, and the job advertisement, together with the interview experience, should generate positive feelings. In terms of intrinsic values, working must guarantee my livelihood and safety, both physically and mentally.

As the equation is not a sum, the work must satisfy the needs of a sense of value and self-realisation, at least in part. If my job description was contrary to my values, the sum of the equation would be zero. I couldn’t appreciate myself if my actions could not promote, for example, the realisation of the circular economy or the better use of resources in general.

Shaping your career while respecting your own principles

As the marginal conditions for working are formulated more through one's own principles than through external factors (a Master of Science must work at the factory!), careers may not appear to be uniform without background information. After graduation, in the past ten years, I’ve studied hydrometallurgical precipitation processes in three different workplaces, helped companies with funding applications and permit processes, and supported Finnish ministries in implementing political objectives. The common thread seems to be hiding.

However, the whole shows in the corners of the details, and these details have guided my activities as long as I remember: nature, equity, helping, independence, income... By following the path of details, my career will also begin to show the same consistency as my hobbies such as scouting, exercise in different forms, hiking and natural economy. The opportunities to influence my own well-being and the environment are great.

Coincidences and a systematic approach

Knowing yourself helps you plan, and plans help you achieve your goals. In addition to being systematic, we also need a little bit of luck. But does self-knowledge increase the likelihood of favourable coincidences? I don't think so. However, knowing yourself helps to identify opportunities, discuss them at parties and over a cup of coffee, and take others into account. These measures will help the occurrence of favourable coincidences.

Through these assisted coincidences and methodical approaches, I’ve been able to participate in a lot of activities and ended up in my current job. A workplace that I feel meets the goals I’ve set for my work.

Janne Keränen
Master of Science (Technology), Scout, Circular Economy Expert

The photo is from a Finnjamboree organised by the Guides and Scouts of Finland. Kajo 2022 was the eighth jamboree organised in Finland.