Still as a freshman, Teemu Ruotsalainen planned for a career in language teaching. Now, however, he is Head of Global Documentation in the product development department of an international technology company. Studying at JYU especially taught him to be bold and cross boundaries, while his teacher education qualified him for work in various settings.
Ruotsalainen comes originally from Imatra. After general upper secondary school, the young graduate considered places for further studies. Helsinki felt too big and Turku was too far away from Imatra. Jyväskylä was a good alternative due to its location and it was also a bit familiar already, since Ruotsalainen’s elder sister was studying there. Ruotsalainen applied to study English at JYU, aiming to become an English teacher.
“I wanted to play it safe. I knew that as a male teacher I would certainly get a job.”
He found a student apartment in the brand-new buildings in Tikka. Ruotsalainen thinks that the best parts of his study years were the beautiful campus, his fellow students, and the youthful atmosphere of the city. With special warmth Ruotsalainen remembers Professor Kari Sajavaara, who was relaxed and easy to approach as a teacher and the Head of the Department of English.
Ruotsalainen completed his master’s thesis as a continuation of his summer job at the Kesko Head Office in Helsinki. The thesis dealt with the language training needs of Kesko’s sales and purchase secretaries.
“Working on the thesis was a great experience! I learned that I can cross boundaries and also a humanities major can enter the business world.”
After graduating, Ruotsalainen moved permanently to the Helsinki region and did some short-term teaching jobs in adult education, for example, in companies providing language training services. After this, he worked as a leading English teacher at the Adult Education Institute of Vantaa. From there, he moved to a job in Nokia online business, working as a team leader in the technical writing department, which operates as part of product development.
At present, Ruotsalainen works for KONE, another large international company. He leads an international team, which includes people from five countries: China, India, USA, Mexico, and Finland.
“Sometimes people have asked me how I managed to get a job in a technology company. I have always thought that a teacher education qualifies you for work in many different places. The basic degree is just a stepping stone.”
Ruotsalainen finds that university studies taught him a lot about some fields of science which he had not even known to exist. He also learned that courage is rewarded, and one should cross boundaries that other people have constructed. He regards pedagogical studies as very useful, even though he would not want to work as a teacher permanently.
“Teachership is particularly a ‘people game’, where the client and end user have to be taken into account,” Ruotsalainen says.
To Ruotsalainen, continuous learning means curiosity. You need to be interested in various things and in many kinds of people. In this sense, teacher education is always advantageous. Exactly the same applies to project skills, which are highly useful in working life.
Ruotsalainen has engaged in further studies himself: He has just started studies in educational management at JYU. “I guess I just do it for the love of teaching,” Ruotsalainen says, laughing.
In conclusion, Ruotsalainen sums up his advice to today’s students:
“Versatility and all-round expertise are great assets! Open the door and enter! Be bold!”
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