Saara Laamanen, UPM
"Dare to try! Even if you don't succeed in everything, you won't lose anything. You always learn something".
What have you studied and how did you choose this option?
I studied at LUT in the chemical engineering programme. At bachelor's level I majored in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Production Economics, and at Master's level I majored in Chemical and Process Engineering with minors in Green Process Technology and Medicinal Chemistry (University of Rijeka, Croatia). I decided to apply for a degree in Engineering as soon as I realised it was an option. As a high school student I was not very familiar with the different postgraduate options, and as a science reader I kept thinking that I should apply to medical school. However, I didn't have the passion to become a doctor, and once I realised the option offered by engineering, it seemed like the right choice (although even then, I wasn't sure if it REALLY was the right one for me). I applied to study chemical engineering, simply because I had always found chemistry more fun than physics or maths, the programme seemed clear and I had a good impression of the LUT Abi team. As soon as I got to Lappeenranta, I knew I had made the right choice.
How did you become a researcher?
I graduated in December 2018 and since then I have been working at UPM Research Centre as a researcher in the Analytical Services and Methodology Development team. I worked as a researcher for a couple of summers as a research intern and did my thesis for the UPM Biochemicals lignin team. When I applied for this position, the working environment was therefore familiar and I was well placed to continue working with the research and laboratory teams.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about this job is that no two days are the same, the work is varied and I get to pace my own work independently, I get to use my problem-solving skills on a daily basis and continue to learn new things, and I get on well with my colleagues. I am motivated, for example, when I get going on a big new project and get my first successful results, and when I can bring together information from many different places and present it in an easy-to-digest format.
What have been the highlights and most important lessons of your career?
I am happy with my whole time as a student, where I got involved in student activities, spent an exchange summer in Croatia, got a summer job at UPM and finally succeeded in my thesis. At work, I feel a sense of achievement every week when I finish a report, find a solution to a problem or when a meeting has gone well.
What are your expectations for the future?
At the moment, I hope to continue to enjoy my work and to be able to develop all the time.
What message would you like to send to a young woman considering a career?
Dare to try! Even if you don't succeed in everything, you won't lose anything. You always learn something. The best thing is to find something great in something you didn't know about at first.
For whom is this a suitable career option?
Applied and practical, but based on logic. Self-motivated and hard-working, with a sense of perspective, time management and flexibility.