This is where it starts, the (working) life after graduation

The transition from studies to work is an exciting and somewhat overwhelming time, and it brings up a lot of questions about your future. How do I combine my skills, values, goals and dreams? What does work mean to me?
Katri Ollila

I graduated in September with a Master's degree in Philosophy from the Geography degree programme at the University of Oulu and started working at the University of Oulu's Kerttu Saalasti Institute. I work as a research assistant in the project “growth from the circulation with green" (KASKI).

One of the objectives of the project, and my own work, is to carry out a mapping of the mobility and availability of rural side streams using spatial modelling. The aim is not only to make it easier to find materials for other companies to use, but also to centralise circular economy activities so that materials are not moved from one place to another in more than the necessary quantities. This will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint and costs for businesses. It is a holistic approach to sustainability.

The work is based on geographic information system (GIS) methods to identify the location and accessibility of primary production side streams. Agricultural, meat production and fishery by-products can be compiled into a spatial database per farm and production site. This database can be linked to a spatial data model of the transport network and network-based accessibility analytics. Accessibility analytics can be used to measure the performance of different logistics solutions in transporting side streams to treatment and recycling processes. Accessibility analyses can also be used to optimise the location of treatment process units.

During my Master's studies, I focused on geoinformatics and wrote my thesis using GI methods. I am excited to continue to work with geospatial data in the KASKI project and to gain more experience in geoinformatics research. I am sure there will be some inspiring and intriguing GIS problem-solving situations ahead.

Although I am now moving into working life, I am not giving up studying completely. I will continue with the Master's programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability that I started at the University of Helsinki. My aim is to further focus my expertise on interdisciplinary sustainability research, particularly from the perspective of rural development and agricultural industry. In my work, I will be able to draw on the contents of the studies in agroecology, rural studies and food systems sustainability, among others.

I also act as an editorial assistant for Versus, an online journal that popularises geography, regional science and social environmental research. Science communication is also close to my heart. When research is aimed at such practical activities and development as in the KASKI project, it is important to be able to communicate with different partners. I get to challenge my communication skills and practise expressing myself in a general way. I look forward to meeting the different partners!

The themes of my work are perfectly linked to my interests, but also to my background: coming from a farm, I want to make the most of my understanding of agricultural environments. Above all, however, my work fits in with my own values.

The transition from studies to work is an exciting and somewhat overwhelming time, and it brings up a lot of questions about your future. Personally, I have wondered whether it is acceptable to look for a job based on your own values, or whether you should prioritise the suitability of your educational background when looking for a job. Fortunately, the phrase "job that matches your education" is beginning to lose some of its meaning. "Job with a vocation" seems to fit better in my own mouth.

In just a short time, I have discovered that at the Kerttu Saalasti Institute, you can really dream and create a career based on your own values and personal goals.

Katri Ollila, FM, Research Assistant, Regional Excellence Research Group (REx), University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute