Coordinator, OK Study Centre, Helsinki, Finland (www.ok-opintokeskus.fi). OK is an adult education institution that caters for the voluntary sector. My tasks include project management and coordination, international projects, evaluation, training and consultation. I also contribute to the study centre's various publications.
After graduation I first went to work for the Research Unit for the Sociology of Education at the University of Turku, Finland. I worked there for seven years, during which I also completed my PhD. The title of my thesis is "To Educate, Empower or Economise? Lifelong Learning in Civil Society Organisations". Besides research, I also translated and edited a variety of academic texts. In 2007 I left academia and started in my current job.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
Working with NGOs is very rewarding: both paid staff and volunteers are enthusiastic and interested in learning. I can use my expertise (both theoretical and practical) to make a real difference.
What was the best thing about your time as a student here?
I enjoyed my studies a great deal. I also got to study and live with some really wonderful people, even though I haven't kept in touch with most of them. I also got to have a lot of fun! For a half British person who was born abroad, like me, living in the UK itself was also important for me.
How did you grow as a person by coming to University?
Taking a year off to take a master's degree gives you time to reflect on what you really want to do. My career took a new path after studying at Birmingham, and that of course changed my life.
In what way did living and studying in Birmingham live up to your expectations?
The degree programme was great because the teaching was excellent and I could combine modules flexibly. My student accommodation was also a positive experience, even though sharing a flat was slightly hard in the beginning, as I had been living alone for a good few years before coming to Birmingham. The city was also great, even though it's even nicer now.
Advice for current students
Take up an extra-curricular activity. Even though you will be working hard with your studies, student groups and other activities give you a chance to mix with people from other departments. Voluntary work in the community can help you meet locals, which will make you experience richer. I was involved with the postgraduate students' committee, the Amnesty International student group and volunteered for Oxfam. I made new friends and could make myself useful.