How to start a design career when you haven't even finished high school?

Anu Ylänen • Quality Woman / Senior QA Specialist

When I was sixteen, I had a summer job on a strawberry farm. I picked berries surrounded by angry bees, stinging nettles and boiling hot sunshine. It was fun, but I wished I had more information about what kind of possibilities and jobs there would be for someone like me in the future. The world was wide open.

Information technology was something I didn't even consider back then, maybe because I didn’t know anything about it. Though it seems that teenagers of today are much more well-informed. They use all kinds of applications every day, all the time. Heck, even a three-year-old can be addicted to an iPad nowadays! So, looking back at the days when I was young, I felt privileged to be part of the wonderful Super-Ada crew in Sanomatalo. Like my dear colleague Janetta blogged a while ago, among 14-year-old teenagers, boys and girls have similar attitudes towards computers and use them approximately equally. That's why we need input from both genders, to be able to design and implement awesome applications for a wide variety of users.

There were several companies presenting themselves at the event: Rovio, Appelsiini, Palmu, etc. and at each stand there was a specific task to be completed by teams of 2-3 people. We had a fun challenge for the girls and several enthusiastic teams gave it a go. They had to design a mobile application for a music festival, in just 20 minutes. The tools that they were allowed to use for the task, were simply pen and paper. That's it. We wanted to show them that working in IT is not just working with computers all day long, it can be much more than that. Like one of the participants said on our stand: “I have never been in any festivals! The hardest thing is to figure out what they need.”

Ideas started to flow and finally take a more structured form on paper. Then they had to present their design to us, which almost brought tears into my eyes. So much enthusiasm and energy, such great ideas and proudness of what they had just done, by themselves. It's all about the young ones, for sure – we need "fresh blood" in order to stay fresh. That is one of the reasons why Futurice, for example, co-operates very closely with students and universities. And that is one of the reasons why we wanted to take part in the SuperAda event.

winners Pinja and Johanna

Finally, when the teams were done with all the challenges, the points were calculated and winners announced. In our design task we considered several teams to be excellent and possible winners. It was almost impossible to select just one. However, when the organizers announced that Johanna and Pinja are the winners, all the ladies at our stand were very happy that these two girls would be our colleagues for a few weeks in the summer of 2014. We need damn good guys and gals - smart people who get things done. That's exactly what they are and did, a festival app design in 20 minutes. Welcome to Futurice, girls!

I hope a summer job at Futurice will help Johanna and Pinja get a good understanding of what it's like to work in an IT company, but also on what kind of ingredients are important in a good workplace.

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