Communications traineeship in the student movement

No day is like the one before, when working in communications, especially under these exceptional circumstances.

I spent the first few weeks learning the ropes and getting to know my colleagues at the Lapinrinne office in Helsinki, but we’ve all been working from home over the last few months.

Working in communications during the coronavirus pandemic has meant learning to tolerate uncertainty in new ways. The future of many projects has become hazy, new issues appear suddenly on your desk, and prioritizing work can be difficult. Not that hectic work is entirely strange to me in communications.

Quite a lot has happened in the past three months: making a request for a tender to revamp the website, thinking about our communication strategy, developing our meme campaign, writing instructions for lobbying communications, making social media updates, and writing manuscripts for and editing videos.

Working at SYL’s communication department involved everything the job announcement promised, ranging from brainstorming to rolling up your sleeves and getting down to work, although occasional relaxation is also encouraged.

As we began working remotely, my practical training progressed somewhat differently to what was originally planned. Some projects were never finished while others were postponed, but there was always plenty to do. In the end, switching to remote work was relatively painless. We still have a joint coffee break in the afternoon, although we can only see each other on screens.

Despite the exceptional times we live in, working for an organization that represents all Finnish university students has been rewarding, as well as challenging at times. Communication trainees primarily work alongside a communication expert to provide support whenever necessary. The Board member in charge of communication has also been there to help out. I view self-development as an employee, professional and person as the true purpose of the traineeship, in addition to the work I do for my employer.

SYL has been a flexible workplace. I was able to influence the work expected from me: they often ask me what I would like to do, learn and take responsibility for. The great thing about SYL is the fact that trainees are given responsibility for their own projects, which they can focus on and push forward. This increases their commitment to their work.

Working on SYL’s communications has been an excellent opportunity to learn and try out various things. When I was discussing my future work as a trainee, a friend of mine said that video editing is a bit like meditation. Having spent a few days at SYL doing this, I can say for sure that we have very different ideas about what ‘meditative’ means.

So what’s left to say about my few remaining weeks?

At least that a traineeship at the National Union of University Students in Finland provides an opportunity to develop yourself. You are allowed to take responsibility for your work, are praised for work well done, and there is never a dull moment. Varied work ensures that every day feels like a fresh start.

Despite these exceptional times, I was able to work on many other things I had planned at the outset, although I’m disappointed that the campaign about Baby Yoda memes was postponed.

So what can I take away from this traineeship? Confidence that SYL is working hard on behalf of students in this country. Self-management skills. Skills needed in various aspects of communication. Know-how that’s sure to come in useful in the future.

A well spent three months, I would say.


Petteri Keränen

Communications trainee

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