I want to tell you a nice story which may give hope to young and passionate people out there.
If you are a student who is seriously planning on their career, being active in your university community and joining projects can be a game-changer. This is a certain way to upgrade your professional life at TAMK. For me, this was the first place that supported my career more than anything.
March 2020: my first work opportunity
In March 2020, it was decided that the big Art, Music and Media International Week, iWeek, would be held virtually. Instantly, Sohvi Sirkesalo, our International Coordinator, together with Isabella Presnal (3rd year Fine Art student), Anna Haaraoja (3rd year Music Production student) and me (3rd year Fine Art student) started working on this virtual project that had never been tried before.
Everything we achieved during iWeek 2020 was done from our homes, due to Covid-19 related restrictions. I was going out with my dog three times a day in the woods and working on my computer for the rest of the time; having meetings, taking notes, and writing emails. It may not sound very fun, but in fact, I discovered my passion for event production.
It was an instant realization – “Wow, this is fun! This is something that perfectly matches my personality. I want to do more of this!”
April 2020: becoming a graphic designer
After this first virtual event was over, we saw the volume of gathered digital material: selfies from the participants from their homes, screenshots from virtual meetings, Zoom recordings, group drawings, etc.
I often put myself in difficult situations in order to learn. Even though I didn’t know graphic design, I have always wanted to learn. So, I told my team “Please, let me do the iWeek booklet. I don’t know how to do it, but I promise you that it will look good!“
Here’s the thing that I simply love about TAMK – they believe in you, let you try and make mistakes, and support all your tiny steps.
It took me more than two months to finish the booklet. It was an extremely bumpy road, and I started it all over again three times. I asked all my friends and teachers, who know graphic design and book design, to guide me. I watched several YouTube tutorials. Of course, I couldn’t do it without Isabella Presnal, my iWeek colleague, who created all the texts, articles, organized and proof-read all the content!
June – November 2020: my practical training in event production
When I decided that event production is what I want to do, things started to happen. Timo Kivikangas, the Head of Media and Arts in TAMK, was impressed with our iWeek production process and contacted us with new work opportunities.
At first, we guided a big event company in Tampere on their new path to virtual events. Then, we were part of XR-Factory production team and started moderating Zoom and Teams meetings.
At the same time, I also emailed my photography teacher, Juha Suonpää, and offered to help organize his big exhibition, Visual Catalysts (read my previous blog post about it here). He emailed me back: “This comes at a perfect time, Luiza. Actually, we need help asap!”
My whole summer was all about going to the Rauhaniemi beach, having long walks in the forest with my dog and organizing events from my laptop. Autumn 2020 was the busiest period of my life and the most fulfilling ever!
December 2020: TAMK-VES and the job I never dreamt of
I guess the biggest advice that I would give to a student is to say YES to university projects. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to join the technical team of TAMK-VES, the new Virtual Event Services created in TAMK. I have always been a creative person and my field of expertise has always been Fine Arts.
I was a bit afraid and not very sure what I’m saying YES to when I accepted to work in TAMK-VES.
TAMK-VES started from a strong need to go forward with university events. Although everything was about experimentation, there wasn’t a lot of time to waste. We needed to move fast and assign team roles. I started as a Zoom moderator, I tried to be a camera director, did stage lighting, but soon I realized that there are people around me who are better than me at these tasks.
One morning, Carlos Portilla, our production manager, suggested I become the production designer of TAMK-VES. So now, I design the virtual events’ overall look and aesthetics. I am also the event photographer, but mainly I oversee stage design. Currently, I am researching this new field on my free time and try to improve my work.
Here are a few examples of some stages that I designed:
TAMK Presentation for Business Tampere, where we presented TAMK-VES and our processes. My vision was to create a backstage on the stage; to leave the things we use out in the open.
The stage for the pre-recorded TAMK Graduation Day ceremony 2020.
I created two stages for TAMK’s staff Christmas Party (Pikkujoulu), one of them was the concert stage.
Nowadays, I work part time as a production designer and continue my studies. I simply love my job and I cannot believe that I received all these work opportunities in such a short time. My life and work skills, from 2018 when I arrived in Finland, have changed completely and I can finally see a bright future for my professional career!