Oili’s story: You don’t have to be afraid of the future

Career story

I work as a coordinator at Finnish Rehabilitation Entrepreneurs. It is an entrepreneurs’ organisation that represents companies in the fields of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychotherapy and many other rehabilitation sectors. The criteria for membership is a licence granted by Valvira or a professional notification approved by the Regional State Administrative Agency for running a private health care business. Rehabilitation Entrepreneurs is a trade association of Suomen Yrittäjät (an interest and service organisation for small and medium-sized enterprises in Finland), and we operate in the same building as their main office.

My work involves communicating with members and stakeholders, coordinating membership benefits and events, and providing advice to members on various issues related to entrepreneurship and rehabilitation. I also visit educational institutions in the sector to provide entrepreneurship education, organise entrepreneurship training for member companies and sell partnerships to companies that could benefit from visibility among our members.

A large chunk of my time goes to advocacy work with the wellbeing services counties, the Finnish Parliament and municipal decision-makers. Private health care is a regulated sector, which means that there is a lot of legislation involved, and it is important to take entrepreneurs into account in the preparations. I have prepared material for the government negotiations in the spring, worked with election communications and visited the Finnish Parliament to explain our objectives to parliamentarians regarding issues such as public procurement and the implementation of the health and social services reform.

I do not have the most typical educational background for my current job. I completed my matriculation examination at a music-based general upper secondary school and was desperate to study vocational studies in music. I started my studies in the conservatoire, but during my first year, I noticed that becoming a professional musician was not the right choice for me. I wanted my work to include more writing because I have always loved reading and producing texts.

My parents, who had studied humanities, encouraged me to apply to the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki, and I chose musicology as my main subject purely on the grounds that my background as a musician might make it easier for me to gain a study place. I got in and my earlier practical focus in art gave way for a research-based perspective. The essays, exams and independence of university studies suited me well. In my thesis, I used the perspective of social science and cultural research, which turned out to be the right choice for me. I also gained a variety of other great experiences during my studies, such as a student exchange in a Master's Degree Programme in Music Business in the United States and minor subject studies in art administration at the Sibelius Academy. 

Swept up by the social welfare and health care sector almost by accident

I have done many kinds of work since I was a teenager, and one thing has led to another. At the beginning of my studies, I worked a lot as a waitress, accumulating experiences in teamwork and selling products to customers. During my first year at university, I got a traineeship and then a job in an event production office where I sold different types of gigs and other art events to restaurants in Helsinki.

At the university, my studies led me to research projects as well as many positions of trust and even university politics. After graduation, I first thought that I would focus on the event sector, but then I got involved with the social welfare and health care sector almost by accident. One spring, I was without a summer job and noticed that Kela was looking for temporary workers to replace its specialists in the summer. Eventually, I ended up working in the social assistance team for two fixed-term periods.

The greatest success in my employment history so far has definitely been diversity. On one hand, this is the result of my courageous attitude, and on the other, my skills in acquiring information, critical thinking and adopting new knowledge that were strengthened in my university studies.

I gained my first full-time job after receiving a tip from a person that used to be my mentor during my master’s studies. Kalliola Group, which my mentor represented at the time, was about to launch a STEA-funded project combining the social sector and event production. The project was looking for an executive producer. For almost three years, I gained valuable practical experience in project management and project administration in this task, and I also became familiar with the processes and structures of a large organisation. I had many truly experienced and skilled colleagues, and through their example, I achieved basic competence in the daily work of a full-time specialist. It is also important to know how to use an electronic calendar, model your work within the organisation and search for information on the intranet.

In addition to work, I completed a special vocational qualification in product development through an apprenticeship. When the project funding ended, I moved to my current job at Finnish Rehabilitation Entrepreneurs through open recruitment. At that point, I had already gained some experience in the social welfare and health care sector, but when I started, entrepreneurship and, in particular, legislative issues were really foreign to me, which naturally inspired me to learn new things. At the beginning, I barely knew what a service voucher means.

The most important thing is not to give up

A few years ago, I was having difficulties coping and had to pretty much rebuild the ways I work. Nowadays, I get much less caught up with detail, and I am merciful to myself if I cannot always reach the imaginary bar that I sometimes set very high in my mind. Nor am I afraid of unresolved issues or criticism: the effects are nothing but educational, and any unpleasant feelings at the bodily level always pass. In the world of work, you often have to simplify things considerably in order to get your message across and to make it stick in people’s minds. This idea has also helped me speak kindly to myself and take my own values into account, as there is no need to constantly develop something new or reinvent the wheel.

In my spare time, I exercise at the gym in a goal-oriented manner, read a wide range of literature, visit museums and other cultural events, and spend time with my loved ones. I like pretty simple things, like staying at home and sleeping in my own bed. I make sure I recover every day, not just at weekends and during holidays. It is nice to grow tomatoes on the balcony, walk around in nature and write down your own thoughts.

If I was to give one piece of advice about the world of work to other people, it would be: you don’t need to be afraid of the future. During my studies, I was very nervous about where I would find employment and how hard the competition for jobs would be. There is a wide range of help available for finding employment. I have experience of, for example, visiting the TE Office’s career choice psychologist and taking part in various mentoring programmes, and I have always found a friendly soul through, for example, the LinkedIn network to comment on my job application and CV. In many job application processes, I have not been successful. For a moment, I have almost felt crushed because the competition is too tough. In the end, though, I have always found a suitable position. The most important thing is not to give up, and to acquire the missing competence if you notice a need for it. However, today’s world of work and education are becoming increasingly fragmented; individuals develop and change their direction at different stages of life. 

As far as competence is concerned, I used to feel very nervous about whether I know or can do something, but today I appreciate the fact that there are people around me who know better and whom I can ask for help. None of the successes in my working career have been thanks to me alone. It is a valuable resource to have many people who know different things and have different experiences. I have also come to understand that in many tasks, it is possible to shape the working day to a surprisingly great extent according to your own interests through, for example, training, reading and listening to different lectures. At the moment, for example, I am interested in the labour market and labour legislation, and, little by little, I am learning more about the topics.

Oili Paaskoski
Finnish Rehabilitation Entrepreneurs