Career

As a graduate of the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, you will have the competence to pursue a career or to continue your studies at the doctoral level.

According to the statistics of the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists, the current employment situation for new graduates is positive. Graduates have found employment in Finland and abroad as experts in the following fields:

  • Research and product development (universities, research institutes, companies, industry)
  • Administration and expert positions (ministries, supervisory agencies, EU, FAO)
  • Business and management (companies)
  • Teaching, training and consultation (universities, universities of applied sciences, organisations, development cooperation projects)
  • Communication (universities, media, companies, ministries, organisations)
  • Entrepreneurship (self-employment)

More information e.g. on the website of the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists.

Please read below some examples of the AGRI graduates and their employment after graduduation from the AGRI programme:

Liisa Pesonen graduated with a degree in agrotechnology and works as a researcher at the Jokioinen office of Natural Resource Institute Finland.

1. What did you study?

I studied agrotechnology in Viikki.

2. What do you do for a living?

I am a researcher at Natural Resource Institute Finland. Currently, I lead a sixteen-member research team that studies and develops data management and machine automation for future plant cultivation farms. Our theme is smart machines in a smart environment. The work entails extensive cooperation with Finnish and international research groups, technology industry in the field, and the end users of the technology, i.e., farmers.

3. How does the future look in your field?

The future of my field looks fascinating. Our field is strongly affected by global development trends both in terms of technological development and agricultural raw material production. What is fascinating is that, because we research future technological solutions, we also affect the future development of our field of study and the content of our own work.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

I have plenty of fun memories from my active student life, one of the greatest of which is the washing and capping of Havis Amanda on one May Day’s eve as part of the official capping team of the University of Helsinki Student Union. As for the studies themselves, my best memories have to do with completing practical electronics assignments in my major subject. Our task was often to find the true purpose of a lump of metal placed in front of us. Our methods consisted of trial and error (since manuals were for amateurs), which usually resulted in quite enlightening learning sessions. We probably put quite a strain on the fuses of the classroom and the teacher alike.

Laura Kihlström, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, works as a project assistant at the Unit for Sectoral Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki.  

1. What did you study?

I studied plant production sciences, especially agroecology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry on the Viikki Campus. In addition, I completed a study module in development studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences as well as courses in extension education and, during my student exchange period in Uppsala, Sweden, tropical agriculture and ecology.

2. What do you do for a living?

At the moment I am a fixed-term project assistant at the Unit for Sectoral Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I am an assistant to the Senior Adviser in rural development and agriculture. My work entails preparing background reports, writing reports and speeches, issuing comments on statements and attending meetings. The best thing about this job is to be able to work on topics that I studied for my degree on a daily basis. I also like the fact that I must always keep abreast of new information and events in agriculture as much as possible. In addition, I like working in an international environment, which is what the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is. I will soon look for a fieldwork position abroad in order to put my studies in agriculture and development studies into practice. 

3. How does the future look in your field?

I daresay that it looks quite good, because people will continue to be needing food. Trends such as the demand for organic and local food as well as the effects of climate change on food production will generate employment opportunities in the future. I encourage all students at Viikki to also consider international career opportunities. There is demand for experts in the field abroad. In addition, they should use social media to familiarise themselves with the field and to contact potential employers. Twitter, for instance, is a great way to stay updated on what happens in agriculture. If possible, students should also consider completing their special practical training at the end of their studies – I do not know if the current Personal Study Plan regulations enable this, but I should think it increases career opportunities after graduation.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

There are a lot of them! I remember well some good courses and lectures, as well as those moments of epiphany when I realised my opinion was not perhaps all that well-grounded and I learned to see things from a different perspective. Working in student organisations was also very rewarding. I was active in the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) throughout my studies, and I got to know students and employers in the field from all over the world as well as to hone my leadership and presentation skills.

Hanna Help, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, is a doctoral student in Professor Ykä Helariutta’s research group at the Department of Biosciences and the Institute of Biotechnology on the Viikki Campus.

1. What did you study?

I studied plant production sciences, especially plant breeding and plant biotechnology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry on the Viikki Campus. After completing my Master’s degree I moved on to doctoral studies in plant production sciences, although I physically work at the facilities of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Institute of Biotechnology on the other side of the campus. My dissertation analyses the roles of phytohormones, hormonal interaction and their effects on various genes in the regulation of cellular differentiation in the vascular tissue of plants. My microscope is particularly focused on factors affecting the formation of xylem cells.

2. What do you do for a living?

I am currently banging away at my various dissertation projects in Professor Ykä Helariutta’s research group.

3. How does the future look in your field?

I have not yet decided whether I want to continue in academia once I finish my doctorate. Considering my training in plant biotechnology, the corporate sector is a tempting option, and I would like to use my knowledge and skills to create practical applications in the fields of, for example, process engineering or pharmacy. I believe there are many job opportunities in Finland for researchers with skills like mine, and I am intrigued about a career in the forest industry or other research institutes. However, I must also point out that an international postdoctoral position of a year or two is also an enticing option, because I love academia!

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

The Nordic post graduate (NOVA) summer course for plant improvement students in Mustiala was one of the finest and most memorable courses in terms of both its great milieu and relaxed atmosphere as well as the scientifically diverse syllabus! I recommend that all students make use of available courses with an open mind, including courses offered by other faculties and universities. In addition, I want to encourage current students to personalise their degrees with optional courses and minor subject modules as well as to actively contact the research groups on campus to complete traineeships. For me, it was summer traineeships, part-time jobs and my Master's thesis project that showed me that practical experience is invaluable in the planning of my future and my career.

Jussi Joensuu, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, works as a researcher at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd in Espoo.

1. What did you study?

I studied plant production sciences, especially crop science and plant biotechnology, on the Viikki Campus. I completed my doctoral studies at the Faculty of Biosciences. My Master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation dealt with developing an edible vaccine for piglets that can be produced in plants.

2. What do you do for a living?

After completing my studies I have worked as a researcher in Belgium and Canada. Currently, I work at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, where I am part of a team developing new technologies for protein production. In addition, I have a farm in the Etelä-Häme region of Finland.

3. How does the future look in your field?

I believe that biotechnology will have a crucial role to play in the future development of medicine and many branches of industry. I would like to see more companies and industry in the field in Finland. I also believe that agricultural production in Finland will continue in the future.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

My best memories are related to understanding “life” through studying biochemistry. Different practical courses were the best way to memorise and remember things.

Anna Tall graduated with a Master’s degree in plant production sciences and works as a service manager at the School of Food and Agriculture of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences in Ilmajoki.

1. What did you study?

I studied plant production sciences, especially crop science, on the Viikki Campus. In addition, I completed study modules in plant pathology and agricultural zoology. During my twenty-year career I have studied education, qualified as a teacher and enhanced my expertise by completing a Licentiate degree. In addition, studies in web-based teaching, project management and the development and management of innovation environments, as well as my qualifications as a specialist in competence-based qualifications and employment-oriented educational planning officer also significantly support me in my current position.

2. What do you do for a living?

I am a service manager at the School of Food and Agriculture of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences in Ilmajoki. My current duties involve the development of all non-degree teaching and the planning of new educational products. I am also involved in the planning of projects to support teaching and serve as the quality manager of our unit.
I started my teaching career as a substitute teacher for a sixth-grade tutor, from which I moved on to become a teacher at a upper secondary vocational school specialising in agriculture, then a locum tenens lecturer in plant production at a university of applied sciences, then an adult education coordinator and then, finally, I began working at my current position.

3. How does the future look in your field?

As long as Finns want to eat domestically produced food, we will need agricultural production and food specialists. High quality education and research are the only things that guarantee that the field remain active in Finland and that there be demand for our expertise internationally as well.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

As regards the studies per se, my favourites were practical projects and traineeships in Germany and England. On the other hand, our student organisation’s excursions to various Finnish towns, organising Nordic sports championships with fellow students, going on excursions to Kenya, Egypt and Morocco, and visiting agricultural locations in Australia and New Zealand as part of a round-the-world trip are some of the things I will still reminisce on as an old lady. My year serving in the board of our subject-specific student organisation, Sampsa, created many lifelong friendships.

Ulla Heinonen, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, works as a researcher at the Jokioinen office of Natural Resource Institute Finland.

1. What did you study and what do you do for a living?

I studied plant production sciences, particularly plant pathology. I work as a researcher in the plant protection team of Natural Resource Institute Finland. I cooperate with other researchers to test and inspect the biological efficacy of pesticides entering the market. As a plant pathologist I work with fungicides, i.e., biocidal chemicals for battling plant diseases.  

2. What makes your work interesting?

I like the diversity and practical nature of my duties. My work is strongly connected to agriculture and food production. As a researcher I spend time on the computer, in a laboratory and in the field alike. Our research results benefit both the commissioner of the study and Finnish farmers who have access to well-researched pesticides. In addition, my own expertise increases constantly, which is also encouraged by my employer. Cooperation with other parties in the field is an interesting added bonus and a learning opportunity.

In addition to testing pesticides, I participate in various research projects, which enables me to update and develop my knowledge and skills regarding the biology of different diseases. At the Institute, I can take my daily coffee break with the top experts in the field of plant protection, so I am in no danger of narrowing my expertise.

3. How does your future look?

The future is full of challenges that agricultural research is striving to meet. The pest population in Finland has been different from more southern countries, but global warming will bring – and has already brought – new species to our country. Maintaining the competitiveness of our domestic plant production with better and more targeted plant protection methods is an important goal which we are attempting to reach through research.
There is plenty of work in the field, so that does not worry me. I am constantly developing my experience and expertise, and I believe that I can find uses for it in the future as well.

4. What are your best memories of your studies?

During my studies I was an active member of both our subject-specific student organisation, Sampsa, and our parent organisation, the League of Agricultural and Forestry Students' Associations (MMYL), and my best memories involve these activities. First of all, subject organisations are a great way of getting to know your fellow students and to have a good time. Secondly, organisational activities familiarise you with, for example, organising various events, meeting procedures and cooperation skills. I feel that student organisations have taught me many career skills I could not have learned through lectures. In addition, student organisation activities created a network of people with whom I am still in contact. Contacting people about work-related matters is now easy when I already know their names and faces.

Essi Saarinen, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, works as a development manager at Yara Suomi Ltd (formerly Kemira-Growhow Ltd).

1. What did you study and what do you do for a living?

I studied plant production sciences, particularly plant pathology. I work as a development manager at Yara Suomi Ltd. My work combines product development and communications. I am in charge of planning research on grassland farming, applying research results to product development and production and communicating with our farmer customers about these matters. In addition, I collect user experiences of our products, carry out training and tour trade expos. Sometimes I even have to don my rubber boots, because our field testing is carried out at our research farm in Kotkaniemi, Vihti.

I originally heard and became excited about Yara Suomi at a recruitment fair in Viikki during my studies. I found a summer job at the company, after which they offered me a Master’s thesis project and a real job.

2. What makes your work interesting?

The best things about my job are variety, cooperation with farmers and the international nature of the company. Finnish farmers are top level professionals with whom I am always learning new things. On the other hand, my international colleagues open up new perspectives to the topics at hand. It is interesting to follow the international developments of our field. In addition, I have many opportunities to participate in training and conferences abroad.

3. How does your future look?

There will be interesting challenges and opportunities that affect the entire agricultural sector. International trade will further increase the demands on the quality of agricultural products, and we must strive to meet these demands. Environmental issues are another topical question, and we strive to both consider environmental perspectives and facilitate the work of farmers; our comprehensive growth programmes are a concrete example of the latter.

My current duties in product development and communications are interesting – there is something new every day. I can constantly increase my knowledge and experience. Discussions with my knowledgeable colleagues are particularly rewarding. The future looks good, because Yara Suomi Ltd is a diversified company offering a wide range of positions.

4. What are your best memories of your studies?

During my studies I was actively involved in our subject-specific student organisation, Sampsa. It created a network of people with whom I am still in contact. Contacting people about work-related matters is now easy when I already know their names and faces.

Ilmo Aronen, who graduated with a degree in animal science, works as the R&D director at Rehuraisio Oy and the representative of Raisio Research Foundation.

1. What did you study?

I studied animal science, particularly animal nutrition in Viikki.
 

2. What do you do for a living?

I work as the R&D director at Rehuraisio Oy, a subsidiary of Raisio Plc. In addition, I serve as the representative of Raisio Research Foundation. In my work I engage in continuous cooperation with universities and research institutes both in Finland and abroad. On the other hand, I also cooperate with farms and many animal product companies. My job is to generate and acquire research-based knowledge to support feed product development.

3. How does the future look in your field?

The future of my field looks good. In Finland we know that sustainable animal production must be ethical, ecological and economical. Finland has technological knowhow.  Animal research has fairly good resources, particularly in the field of dairy cattle. All in all, agriculture is a field of the future. After all, agriculture produces not only food, but also energy and experiences.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

My best memories have to do with various recreational activities in sports and music. I had a fairly tight-knit group of friends, and many of those friendships have lasted a lifetime. I completed my Master’s thesis project at the Alfa Laval research farm in Sweden. It was a great experience for which I am still grateful.

Elina Paakala, who graduated with a degree in animal science, works as a development agronomist at Faba Co-op in Tikkurila.

1. What did you study?

I studied animal science, particularly agricultural animal breeding, in Viikki. In addition, I completed study modules in organic agriculture and food economy as well as, for my own enjoyment, Spanish. Before that, I completed the degree of agrologist at a university of applied sciences.

2. What do you do for a living?

I am a development agronomist in Faba's product development team. At the moment, my duties include developing and upgrading various software used by, for example, farmers, breeding advisors, office staff, dairy farm advisors and hoof trimmers.

3. How does the future look in your field?

The field would appear to be developing rapidly due to the increased amount of available genomic data and to global food issues. Locally produced food is very popular and I do not believe that consumers would like to switch to using purely imported animal products due to reasons of ecology and animal rights issues.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

My best memories are the amazing lectures held by top level experts in the field! Another, perhaps surprisingly, is the summer during which I completed my Master’s thesis. My thesis dealt with a very interesting and topical issue, and no matter how good lectures are, practical work is the only way to truly learn.

Mikko Säynäjärvi, who graduated with a degree in animal science, works as a product group manager at Faba Co-op in Hollola.

1. What did you study?

I studied animal science, particularly agricultural animal breeding, in Viikki. In addition, I also completed another study module in animal science. I had a summer job at a bull stud farm as a schoolboy and became interested in the field. I was also intrigued by the philosophy of animal breeding. Breeding opens new opportunities, generates permanent benefits and is also an ecological venture.

2. What do you do for a living?

I have worked in artificial insemination ever since graduation. I have worked as a production manager of two bull stud farms and two boar stud farms. In this work I became thoroughly familiar with semen production. At my workplace in Hollola, semen production decreased in the mid-2000s and ended a few years ago. After that, I have worked in semen marketing and export. At the moment I work as product group manager at Faba Co-op, where I am in charge of the marketing of Faba Co-op in general and VikingGenetics bulls in particular. My employer is Faba Co-op, but most of the time I work for VikingGenetics.
Occasionally I am also still involved in matters pertaining to the care of the bulls. This is what keeps me going in my job. By working next to the breeding centre I can occasionally take some time to mess with tractors and visit the bulls.

3. How does the future look in your field?

People keep saying that this is a dying field. This has been going on throughout my career, i.e., over twenty years. At the moment, the global prices of food and dairy are rising. Dairy products are needed, and insects are not yet going to replace meat and dairy as protein sources. Finland has good opportunities for success in food production, but this can, of course, be ruined through political decisions. The greatest concern is the coping of dairy farmers.
The latest method in cattle breeding, genomic selection, will lead to a decrease in the number of bulls and change the structure of the entire field. However, this is a great opportunity for VikingGenetics and for us Finns. After all, VikingGenetics’ breeding programme is a forerunner in terms of both size and methodology.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

My studies involved plenty of significant events. The best thing about the studies themselves was some of the lectures in my major subject and my agricultural traineeship in Suitia. I was not very active in student organisations, but I spent some time at my regional student association. The best thing about my studies was perhaps the time spent with students from different fields. My wife studied literature and through her I was able to meet students of “aesthetics, cosmetics and comparative erotics”. It was always nice to return to the wholesome and down-to-earth students on the Viikki Campus from these excursions.

Janne Heikkinen, who graduated with a degree in environmental and soil science, works as a senior specialist in an environmental project coordinated by Natural Resource Institute Finland and the Southwest Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

1. What did you study?

I studied environmental soil science in Viikki. In addition, I completed study modules in chemistry, plant production sciences and multidisciplinary environmental studies.  I also completed courses in forest ecology and limnology.

2. What do you do for a living?

I have worked in research positions at Natural Resource Institute Finland, focusing on topics pertaining to the recycling of organic nutrients and the efficacy of nutrient use. My duties included planning container and field experiments, organisational and management duties, and reporting. I also worked in an environmental project under the purview of the Southwest Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, which utilised concrete methods to decrease the flow of agricultural nutrients to waterways in cooperation with farmers. In my work I can apply the knowledge and skills I learned during my studies to practice in an expert position. The best thing about project work is seeing how research and practice come together in the form of advisory services. Through networking I have familiarised myself with the operation of various parties in agriculture from ministries to individual farmers.

3. How does the future look in your field?

Agriculture is always in a state of flux. Food production methods are constantly changing and becoming more environmentally friendly. Agricultural production is subject to heavy political regulation, which involves several different parties and many reforms that guarantee a constant demand for research and project work in the field. Agriculture and the environment go hand in hand, but there is still much to do to strengthen their grip on each other.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

My best memories are about learning to perceive large wholes; not individual courses, but how the contents of different courses are organised into a single functional network. Being able to perceive such systems gives you a practically oriented career approach, which is something that employers value.

Martina Metzler, who graduated with a degree in environmental and soil science, works as a chemist at Novalab Oy.

1. What did you study?

I studied environmental soil science in Viikki. In addition, I completed study modules in, for example, chemistry. I had studied environmental protection science at the Open University before starting my degree studies. By completing a few additional courses I also turned this into a minor subject module. In addition to my degree studies, I also attended many interesting lectures in topics such as development studies, environmental policy and bee culture.

2. What do you do for a living?

I work in a laboratory called Novalab Oy, a testing laboratory that conducts chemical and microbiological analyses. We analyse plenty of samples of, for example, polluted soil and water, as well as food, animal feed, raw materials and many other substances. I work as a chemist at the laboratory. My main duties include developing measurement methods for detecting various elements such as lead, mercury and uranium in water samples. My days are largely spent advising laboratory technicians in their work and presenting reports to customers, but I often get to do laboratory work as well.

3. How does the future look in your field?

There is continuous competition in the laboratory sector. On the other hand, increased awareness of the state of the environment creates more demand for research. I work with consultant companies that decide on taking samples and recommend various cleaning methods for, e.g., contaminated areas. My studies would have well qualified me for those duties as well. Continuous construction and the need for additional residential or industrial areas require using potentially polluted sites. This results in work for both consultants and the laboratories analysing the samples.

4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

I greatly enjoyed the freedom of university studies. If you knew you were extremely well versed in some topic, attending lectures was not compulsory. On the other hand, sometimes you wanted to drag yourself to lectures at eight o’clock in the morning even after extended partying the night before. Other students were great as well – wonderful people who were extremely interested in the same things as you. My year-long student exchange period in Vienna was awesome! It is difficult to name just one best memory. Perhaps lunchtime conversations with friends? Perhaps finding yourself and a direction for your life?

Studies are part of your career. At the University of Helsinki, all degrees include career planning. The Career Services at the University of Helsinki, in cooperation with degree programmes, supports the growth of your expert identity as part of your studies and with separate services.

From the start of your studies until one year after the completion of your degree, the Career Services supports your career path.

Career Services  

  • gives career counselling and job seeking support, 
  • arranges info sessions, workshops and events, 
  • provides suitable job and traineeship offers for students,
  • shares university’s subsidy for traineeships and  
  • facilitates group mentoring programmes.

Check out the Career Services on the Instructions for students “Work and Career” and “Traineeships”.