Sarita's story: On the path toward dreams

I got to know work already in primary school when I spent a lot of time in my mother's lunch café and helped her with various work tasks. My first summer jobs were naturally in that lunch café. From the very beginning, customer service and sales have played an important role in my career.

When I turned 18, I started working at an R-kioski while attending upper secondary school. I graduated from that school in 2016, but I did not have a study place in higher education. I was not entirely sure about my high hopes for an actor’s or an architect’s career anymore and ended up having a year off.

At the beginning of my gap year, I met my current husband and started spending almost all my free time in Seinäjoki with him. The gap year went by fast. In Rauma, I worked at two different kiosks, and I often took a morning shift in one of them and an evening shift in the other during the same day. When I had a couple days off, I drove from Rauma to Seinäjoki to be with my husband.

In the spring, it was time for the joint application process again. I decided to only apply to Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences so that I could move together with my husband. I got a study place even though I had not prepared for the entrance examinations. At that time, I did not even know what business studies would entail.

In addition to my studies, I worked in a store as a cashier and was always ready to take on additional work when it was offered. I tried to combine work and studies as well as possible. At the UAS, we had to choose the orientation of our studies. The choice was easy for me, as I was not interested in financial administration and marketing seemed like a very distant idea. Management felt natural and interesting, and I already had some experience in it. My enthusiasm about management and related issues was reflected in my grades that were often excellent.

Around the same time, I was promoted a supervisor at work. Working as a supervisor was nice and provided good experience in addition to studies. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the trade sector changed significantly, and I started working more and more. My studies suffered because I gave my all at work. I am also very extroverted and perform better among other people, so studying remotely was torture for me. Still, the unlikely came true, and I managed to graduate last autumn. Working on my thesis stressed me out for around three years, but now it is finally finished.

Starting out as an entrepreneur at 23

While trying to finish my studies, I decided to change jobs. The road lead me back to R-kioski in summer 2021. At the moment, I am an R-kioski shopkeeper, meaning that I am a franchise entrepreneur. My career as a shopkeeper took flight, and after the first full year, I was nominated the shopkeeper of the year and was selected as the best sweets seller in Finland in 2022. In a modest Finnish fashion, I can therefore say that at least I have done something correctly. 

I know that I could not have achieved these things without my magnificent team. With good teamwork, little inventiveness and realistic goals, we have achieved a lot. As a leader, I try to remember what I have learned and encourage, reward, guide and thank my team often. As an entrepreneur, I have learned the importance of goals, as it is difficult to manage sales without goals. Working on my thesis has supported my goal-oriented management. Simultaneously, I also learned many important lessons with regard to my career.

My career as a shopkeeper is good experience for the future. I have learned a lot, but there is still much to learn. As an entrepreneur, I have been able to or sometimes even forced to do things that did not interest me at all while studying. Being a shopkeeper has been quite a rollercoaster ride, because as an entrepreneur I have a great responsibility for my own team, my company and myself.

It is sometimes difficult not to think about work on my free time, and sometimes a day off can suddenly turn into a workday. In a small work community, even small things can be big, and sudden rush or illness can require a lot of flexibility from me and my team. I was very stressed at the beginning of my shopkeeping career. Everything was new, there was constantly something more to be done, and I could not stop thinking about work. Now I can give myself a little mercy and not berate myself even if I forget something. I believe that nothing irreversible can happen and everything can always be fixed. I, too, make mistakes and try to learn from them. Of course, the global events and inflation have brought about new challenges in entrepreneurship.

Open-ended future

My career is only just beginning as I’m only 25 years old. Being a shopkeeper is nice, but I am aware that I am not going to do it for the rest of my life. I want new challenges. However, my career as a shopkeeper has taught me a lot and I recommend franchise entrepreneurship to all those who want to try entrepreneurship safely with significantly lower risks. I have been satisfied, and because I get stressed easily, it is good to have an extensive support network. However, I believe that I would have much more to offer as a manager or team leader than at the customer interface. Leadership, sales management and a certain coaching are close to my heart. 

You must have dreams. My goal is to find a profession where I can inspire others and be creative. You can never find what you’re looking for unless you actually go and get it. I feel like I’m on my way toward my dream profession, even though I don’t know exactly what it is and if I would like to study more. That is why I keep my future open-ended and welcome new challenges. However, I know that L-O-V-E to improve myself, the sales of my company and the competence of my staff. I would like to tell everyone that it is a good idea to move forward in your career and take on new challenges. This is a cliché, but nothing is final, and everything has a meaning. 

I will share my experiences with enthusiasm and meet new people. Feel free to contact me in LinkedIn!

Sarita Jääskeläinen
R-kioski shopkeeper