From KAMK to the World and Beyond

Elisa Kemppainen, Bachelor of Business Administration 

I have always been interested in travelling and I have travelled quite a bit. Summer exchange in Florida, au pair year in California and a backpacking trips in Australia & Fiji were life-changing experiences to me. I’ve learned a lot about life and myself, and I’ve got awesome experiences; have you for example ever had a chance to hold a sea cucumber in your arms on the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef? Yup, I have!

I had four gap years before I started my university studies. Why? To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do after upper secondary school. I wanted to become a psychologist, dental hygienist, teacher, nutritionist… I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for living so when I didn’t get accepted to university, I decided to make the most of the freedom and travel around the world.


Business graduate Elisa  Business Graduate Elisa2  Business Graduate Elisa3

Stepping into the unknown

After coming back from Australia, in summer 2014, my good friend saw an advertisement in the local newspaper by Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK). The advertisement was about the extended application period and my friend told me to apply in case that was something I was interested in. I said I don’t want to study business because I am not a business person. But as I didn’t really have many other things to do that time, I applied to the program. I went to the entrance exam, got good points and got accepted to the Bachelor's Degree in International Business at KAMK. I wasn’t sure if it was my thing, but I decided to give it a go since I wanted to study something.

I started my studies on August 28th, 2014. I began my studies in a group that had students from Finland, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil and Japan. On the first day of the studies, I was greeted by my supervising teacher, Ruey, who ended up being the most supportive and motivating teacher ever. Ruey shared stories from her working history and I knew from the first day she would be the right person to teach me international business. She had a strong business background from Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries. Her stories made me to wonder and dream whether I would work in the financial sector or would I even start my own business? Would I work in one of the business hubs in Asia or stay in Finland? 

During the first year of studies I was asked to make a study plan that determined when do I want to graduate. My plan was to graduate in autumn 2017 because I knew it was doable, I was ready to work extra hard, and I wanted to graduate as soon as possible. I included a study exchange year in my plan as well because I knew I wanted to do it. First year of studies included a lot of positive moments that helped to realize I had made a really good decision. Introduction to Marketing course and a real-life marketing project were eye-opening experiences for me because I just got a feeling that “this is it, I want to be creative and do marketing”.

Study exchange year

It was pretty clear to me I would do my 2nd year of studies in Canada because I wanted to improve my English skills before writing my thesis. But before sending my study exchange application I thought about going somewhere unknown, like China, because I think it’s really exciting to visit places you’ve never been to before. Nevertheless, I went to Canada and studied new courses, improved my English skills, met new people and saw very beautiful places. KAMK staff members were very supportive during my study exchange. I think the biggest benefit of KAMK is that it is a smaller university of applied sciences. You get to know the teachers better, you get better individual guidance and support, and the KAMK is very flexible in order to support your personal study path. 


Hard work always pays off

I ended up graduating earlier than I planned, in April 2017, and  I lived in Canada for a while after that. In November 2017 I packed my bags and travelled all the way to New Zealand to work as a Digital Marketing Assistant. I worked in New Zealand for five months and came back to Finland to look for permanent work. I was scrolling through job advertisements and there was one that took my full attention; “We are looking for a marketing and sales specialist”. I got super interested and clicked the job advertisement open. I read through the requirements for the job and thought it sounded perfect for me. I sent an application and got invited to an interview. I also got the job and moved to Tampere.

So, what was the workplace and what do I do now? I work as an International Coordinator at Asia Exchange, which is a Finnish company offering study abroad programs in Asia and New Zealand. I visit universities and I encourage students to explore the world & study abroad to gain international experience. I am also responsible for digital marketing on various different platforms. Isn’t it funny how international matters, travelling, marketing, psychology, New Zealand and Asia are all related to my work? It’s like all the scattered pieces from my life were collected together and put into this job. Maybe it was just meant to be?

I’ve lived in five different countries so far, visited 16 different countries in total, and I am waiting for the day I get to explore Asia as well. My personal goal is to visit at least one totally new country per year as I just love travelling. Maybe next year the new country will be Malaysia, Nepal, or maybe Brazil? 

KAMK Business Graduate Elisa4 KAMK Business Graduate Elisa5