Last semester I decided to join a course in which the students would develop a product or a service with client companies. All the assignments were interesting, but one particularly caught my attention. Propublishing wanted to develop a service product that would assist higher education management to evaluate the situation in their institution. I did not dare to dream that the project would lead me to do an internship with the company.
The Finnish higher education system is a unique mix of academic universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS). Where traditional higher education focuses on basic research and raising experts and specialists, the universities of applied sciences pursue collaboration with businesses, industry, and other communities. Due to this orientation, students in UAS get to be in contact with possible employers a lot during their studies.
Collaboration projects and internships are valuable opportunities for students and client companies alike. Projects provide a sampling opportunity for the client company to find promising people to recruit. Collaboration between a company and a UAS ofcourse demands investments in time and effort from the client company, but the benefits can outweigh the cost.
Students are a reservoir of fresh ideas and unique perspectives, and because they are students there will be a teacher or an instructor to guide them. In collaboration projects client companies can test a daring idea, develop current functions, or outsource a part of a project.
Being involved in developing an actual product with a real company was extremely motivating for me. And I bet that this is true for my peers as well. Education through experience is powerful and the Finnish universities of applied sciences have found a recipe for success with it.
Most of the degrees in UAS dedicate a substantial proportion of study credits for internships. Criteria for the internship are that the tasks and work produce relevant experiences for the student. This ensures that the student seeking internship must articulate their competencies, plan for, and suggest tasks or types of work and sell the idea of internship to the employer.
During the product development project, I got to find out more about the client company. I realised that my skills in communication and prior experience around education development are things that will raise the interest of this employer. I drafted a plan and a proposal for the internship and shared them with Propublishing.
What started as a course in product development, developed into an internship in a company of whose existence I did not know before this. For my fellow students I bid courage to propose an internship in the businesses that you find inspiring. And for the employers and companies out there, looking for passionate and motivated workers, I highly recommend collaboration with any of the universities of applied sciences in Finland.
By Eleonora Alariesto