student story

Company visit and internship led to a full-time job

I am Eveliina Saarimaa, a digital tourism marketing expert originally from northern Ostrobothnia who moved to Jyväskylä for studies. I did my tourism and hospitality management studies at JAMK in 2014-2017 and later developed my skills in marketing communications with tourism marketing studies. During my studies I also did an exchange year in England at Bournemouth University.

In high school there were a lot of challenges when it came to thinking about future plans - I just couldn’t answer the question, what did I want to do when I grew up. I remember avoiding my tutor until last minute, when I was forced to fill out the selection papers.

While in high school, I attended a three-week summer camp in Germany through Rotary. It was there where I discovered my interest in internationality, working with people, different cultures and the tourism industry especially. From then on, I dreamed of a career in the field of tourism.

Tourism as a field of study is also very diverse and while the career dreams were not yet completed, a degree in hospitality would open many different doors and opportunities. With a degree from hospitality, you can work in many different places and positions around the world- the possibilities were great.

I was planning to leave to study tourism in England and when browsing through options, JAMK and Jyväskylä appeared a lot. I took a gap year after high school and continued to think about my options. However, JAMK stood out when it came to its degree program of tourism from a business economics point of view when compared to other similar universities. Also, the location of Jyväskylä was appealing to me.

I started getting interested in marketing and understanding business economics would support it. JAMK also did not require a large tuition fees that I would have had to pay in England. I then decided to move to Jyväskylä and study at JAMK.

Hands-on studying and full of interesting projects

Studying at JAMK was practical. I liked that we solved real problems and dealt with things that would probably come up when working in the field.

It was often difficult to be in contact with companies, especially during the courses, business contacts were filled with interview questionnaires and they did not always have time to answer our questions. I am very social and talkative person, so working in groups suited me well.

However, at times it was good to focus on things independently. Teachers also did a lot of different research and development projects that we often got involved in. The meeting between entrepreneurs and those working in the field gave a lot of new perspectives on what can really be done in the field.

More specifically, I remember a company visit from FlowHouse during my first year. During the visit, I thought, wow, it would be great to work on digital marketing. After the lecture, I went to chat with the visitor, collected contact information, and followed the company on social media. This company I was going to keep in mind. I never would have guessed then that this particular visitor would later become my colleague!

My exchange year in England was the best time of my life!

Studying in England was of great interest to me still. That's why I decided to take a closer look at the exchange options and well. JAMK's partner school was exactly the university I was planning to go to complete my entire degree earlier!

The University of Bournemouth has a big tourist field which is one of the best in the country. It might have also been among the top 200 universities in the world in the field of tourism. At that time, JAMK had few tourism marketing and digital marketing courses aimed at the tourism education industry. In England, however, there were, and so I set out to spend the exchange year in England.

I did JAMK’s second year at the University of Bournemouth, where I studied their fourth-year courses that best met my expectations. Never in my life have I studied as much as I did then. My courses there consisted mostly of tourism marketing, digital marketing, business administration and social media in the tourism industry. The exchange year was one of the best years of my life, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything! I especially recommend an exchange period abroad for those who want to or are already studying in the tourism industry.

The experience expanded both my own self-knowledge and the tourism industry as an industry from a whole new perspective - and it has been a great help to me. My English language skills also developed in a more academic way and my old British accent got a real tone to it. I also made a lot of friends and contacts from all over the world that I still keep in touch with today.

From internship to full-time job

When I came back to JAMK, I still had the last 1.5 years left. With my courses I was able to accredit a lot of compulsory courses and that allowed me to graduate in time even though I was gone for a year.

I wanted to do my in-depth internship at FlowHouse, as I now had a lot of knowledge in digital marketing and tourism marketing. I started training there in the spring of 2017 and there I stayed. At the time, FlowHouse began to specialize specifically in the travel industry, which was even better from my perspective.

FlowHouse commissioned me to do my thesis for them about the digital marketing skills and knowledge of regional tourism organizations. It is funny to think that now many of these regional organizations are my clients.

After the internship, I stayed for a while to do project and research work for FlowHouse in cooperation with Visit Finland. At the same time, I did digital tourism marketing campaigns as well as other jobs in the industry. After that, my position in FlowHouse was made full-time and now I work at FlowHouse as an expert in digital tourism marketing.

My responsibilities include planning and implementing digital tourism marketing, strategic planning, content production, tourism and business development work, digital tourism marketing coaching, and building and maintaining e-learning environments. I now master many tools, channels, and practices in the digital environment.

What makes this field challenging is that you can never fully know everything new that has come to social media channels, for example, the next morning everything in social media might look completely different.

Continuous learning and internal motivation in the industry are especially emphasized in this work. You always need to stay up to date on everything. We have a great team with whom we achieve a lot and where we support each other with our own expertise.

The best thing about this work is to help tourism businesses and tourist areas develop and help them cope in an ever-changing digital world. We work a lot with regional organizations, tourism companies and tourism development bodies. We are, for example, Visit Finland/Business Finland’s expert partner and we manage several different development projects. I also meet a lot of companies in my field during coaching days where I try to train them and help them with digital challenges.

Giving assistance and seeing progress is rewarding and I have never had the feeling of not wanting to go to work in the morning. I enjoy this job, our team, and meeting people working in the tourism industry. So, you could say that I have found my place.

Greetings to those who are considering studies in this field

For new tourism students, I want to say welcome to a growing and situation sensitive industry! A hospitality degree opens many doors in the field of tourism. You should take advantage of opportunities to explore different paths in the tourism industry, including this kind of digital path.

Things in the industry are changing fast and you should always be ready to learn something new. If you have the opportunity to go to study or do an internship abroad - do so (however, taking into account the circumstances)! That experience cannot be overemphasized in the tourism industry.