While Aila is preparing for her well-earned retirement, it is more than time to warmly welcome our new CoID study coordinator Minna Paasio. How she came to Aalto and where students will be able to find her, we wanted to know.
Minna, what did you do before you came to Aalto?
I worked at the National Defense University (NDU) for six years. It’s quite a different environment coming here working with Art students, which is quite different to officers, but I like it. And yet it’s surprisingly similar in the sense that both study fields are very specific. They are not generic science schools. They both have a very specific aim, although Arts is wider than educating officers. At NDU I was a planning officer and I worked with a lot of students, but my last assignment was with Master students. At NDU I have worked with doctoral degrees, Bachelor degrees, student feedback and quality insurance, student exchange and with ICT projects – you get to do a lot in six years. And now it was time to switch. I also wanted to improve the international side of what I do. And within the NDU it was very limited. I was there starting up the NORDEFCO exchange student program, but after it was done, it was done. That was one of the only international assignments you can participate in, if you are a civilian and are working in student administration. And then this opportunity came along with Aalto. I arrived already in the beginning of February, and I have to admit that I had my reservations for a while, but I have enjoyed my time here so far.
How much of Aila’s tasks will be the same for you, or different?
I guess the same part is easy for me to say, because I will be taking over CoID, as a CoID coordinator. And I will also do the joint studies. And then Naoko, the CS and IBDM coordinator, will take over MEDes, and some tasks will go to Mervi Palva, the new coordinator who will be responsible for CoDe, Contemporary Design. Some things have been divided, and some things I will be inheriting from Aila. Of course, there are many things that Aila has just done over the years, because she has been here so long, so I have to see how to cover these things. I will know what’s ahead exactly in fall, because it’s impossible to switch just like that. I have been trying to ask questions and she makes lists on what needs to be done, but I am sure some things will fall between the cracks.
A new thing we will have is the collaboration with Tongji University in Shanghai, starting in fall. Aalto and Tongji University have made this collaboration agreement where students are coming from Tongji to Aalto. The students from Tongji come in as second-year students in CoID, IDBM and Creative Sustainability. And that’s different from normal exchange students because they are degree-seeking students. They only come for one year, as their first year is to be done in Shanghai. Of course, they can be here longer than one year. But they also have to finish their degree at Tongji and do their thesis here. I think it’s good to know that new students will be coming in and they are second year students, but they are still new in Aalto. I hope that everybody will welcome them. It might be tricky for them, also because they have to jump into Thesis Seminar right away. Right now, I am in the middle of trying to figure out their schedule so that they can at least be part of the Intro course and orientation.
With what kind of questions can students come to you with?
Student administration – anything having to do with their credits and studies and at least in my previous job, part of my role was to just be there also. You can pop in and talk. If you get anxious, come in and talk to me. That’s what I am there for, and if I can do something to relieve the anxiety, or if you are not getting your grades, or something like that, then I am here. However, I am still learning, so with some questions maybe we will learn together.
Are we able to reach you in the summer and where will students be able to find you from fall onwards?
Since I am a new member of the staff, you are lucky, I don’t get any vacation days yet. ; ) So, you are able to reach me all through summer, either by phone (also WhatsApp works) or email. Email is best, because nobody knows where we are in June. While we do have some office hours in Otaniemi, it’s easier if you just email me.
Regarding where to find me in Väre from fall, I am not sure right now. There is going to be LES (Learning Services) designated spaces, but we don’t have specific work stations, at least not right now. The best way to contact me in the fall is also via email. You can book a time, or call me and ask me “Are you there, and where is there exactly?”. Because even though I don’t know where I will be sitting, I am available to you. Email should be your best friend. I will also have office hours, but I want to stress that I am not limited to those times. Whatever suits you, I will try to make it work. And I am sure it will be easier once we are all in Otaniemi, because until now I have kept going back and forth between Otaniemi and Arabia due to different tasks in different places. And commuting can get crazy.
Would you like to share something personal about you?
I am part of organizing Steelfest – a black metal festival held in Hyvinkää every May. This was my sixth year of being in charge of the merchandise part there. Bands bring in their CD’s, vinyls, t-shirts and aprons and pins and whatever you can imagine. I am in charge of selling them and paying them when they leave. So that’s actually a big part of my life every spring. It is volunteer work, but I really like it, because it is very different from what I do every day. I think that is the biggest thing that comes to mind right now, but if you are curious about me, just ask.