Sonja Hyrynsalmi, LUT University
"Recognise your own strengths and don't regret it if your career choices don't always work out. Life is a long journey and you will always learn something new about yourself".
What have you studied and how did you choose this option?
I started studying Computer Science at the University of Helsinki because I liked working with computers. During my studies I got the feeling that maybe I was somehow the wrong person for the field - loud, girly and interested in everything other than just computers. I switched to the University of Turku to study Social Policy and graduated with a Master's degree in Political Science. However, technology was always close to my heart, both at work and in my leisure time.
How did you become a junior researcher?
During my studies in Social Policy, I applied for an internship at a regional business development company and worked a lot with tech companies, startups and researchers. In my spare time, I ran both kids' coding schools and women's coding nights. I noticed that people who were researching technology and social issues often lacked deeper technology expertise themselves and I set out to find that expertise as a researcher.
What is the best thing about your job?
My colleagues, the academic community and my students. All the things that make you learn new things every day and get you excited about new things.
What have been the highlights and most important lessons of your career?
My first academic conference, winning the best paper award and gaining the energy and belief to take my research forward. I think the most important lesson is that collaboration always takes you further - also in research.
What are your expectations for the future?
I hope to stay in academia after my PhD, but my blood may also be drawn to organisational and advocacy work. Being a mix of software engineer and civil servant, I'm interested in preparing and solving big social issues!
For whom is this a suitable career option?
There are as many researchers as there are research topics, so forget the stereotypes that you have to love reading and research methods. If you're excited by new perspectives and new things, there's always a place for someone like that in this field!
What greetings would you like to send to a young person considering a career?
Recognise your own strengths and don't regret it if your career choices don't always work out. Life is a long journey and you will always learn something new about yourself. In many fields, you can go into many different types of jobs - be brave and find your own thing, even if it takes time!