“Geographical flexibility has been my superpower,” says Mika Friman, a graduate of the Information Systems Science programme at JYU. For years, his career has taken him abroad. His current job description at Google includes everywhere from Europe to the Middle East and Africa. His current place of work, however, is in Tornio.

Ever since his childhood in Tornio, Mika Friman has been fascinated by computers, computer games and comic books. “I could hardly wait for the school day to end and get home and play,” Friman says. He is convinced that his curiosity towards and optimism regarding technology influenced his decision to start studying at the Faculty of Information Technology as well as his later career choices.

When he was a schoolboy, Friman made the rounds of marketplaces and trade fairs, selling kitchen knives and frying pans on commission. He developed an ability to connect with customers in a matter of seconds. His interaction skills have been very important in his career ever since.

“When you’re a salesman you can’t be shy. You must be sharp-eyed and concentrate on your customers.”

His time in the army proved an important phase in his youth: “There was an advanced leadership course for group leaders. It taught me how you can lead a group by interacting, not just by shouting and ordering. I learned that a good order was short, unambiguous, viable and timely.

“The definition of a good order has also worked well in the business context, for example in facilitation or even writing an email. It makes me feel safe because I know I’m being understood correctly.”

After serving in the army, Friman began to study to be an engineer. “That didn’t suit me at all. I had no idea what I wanted,” Mika says. Then, by coincidence, he heard about information systems science, and applied to study in Jyväskylä.

“Going to the university was a choice – it was not self-evident. Tornio is an industrial town, and the mentality was that it was the big shots’ kids who went to study at university. It would have been more likely for me to go to some other school.”

Friman majored in information systems science, with a specialization in digital business and marketing. He was very active in the student organization Dumppi. A significant milestone was his Erasmus exchange to Bern in 2005: “It opened my eyes. I could see how diligently many people worked and thought about their grades and degrees. I understood that studying is my work. It requires independence, discipline and a systematic way of thinking.”

Going abroad to study and, afterwards, starting practical training in both Munich and Hamburg, and then work in London, surprised Mika’s relatives and friends in Tornio.

“Starting work at Google, of course, made me and everyone else proud. But moving to London was a tighter spot. Why leave a safe and familiar place? It was hard to explain to others, and those years were a strong period of spiritual growth for me. I pushed myself and, despite being outside of my comfort zone, I grew into my jobs and succeeded.”

Today, Friman works at the Google Digital Academy. At first, he worked as a facilitator in workshops which trained, for example, digital marketing or the use of Google products. Now he has moved on to education planning duties and is the head of a team which is responsible for the implementation of these workshops.

He thinks Google is a good employer and has worked for the company for a long time. Google has allowed him to develop himself and his tasks provide a good challenge. “The company also has a good working culture as well as values which meet my own,” he says.

His best memory of his study days is the flexibility of the university. Studying abroad felt luxurious. The exchange and training periods were not just separate phases, but were all part of the degree.

“Practical experience became part of the studies. It was great to see that the university was also willing to see it as valuable. The access to different opportunities in my studies has been meaningful and influential in what I’ve become in my working life.”

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