Mika Launikari


Interview with Aarne Puisto (PART 1): Studying law abroad, aiming at an international career

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It is pretty common among young Finns these days to take a university degree abroad. The top three destination countries where Finnish students like to go are the United Kingdom, Sweden and Estonia.

This is exactly what Mr Aarne Puisto (24), a Finnish law student, has done. So far he has completed his Bachelor degree at the Tallinn University of Technology/Tallinn Law School in Estonia (2012-15) and he is now pursuing Master degree studies on European Business Law at the Lund University in Sweden (2015-17).  

International law was a natural choice for me

“Initially I had the intention to do my legal studies in Finland, but as that did not work out the way I would have preferred, going abroad felt like a natural thing for me to do”, says Aarne. The choice of international law as his study field had been clear to him from very early on.

After some investigation the Tallinn Law School appeared as an optimal solution. “They offered a highly recommended Bachelor programme on international, comparative and European law, which genuinely was what I was looking for. Content-wise it was like tailor-made for me and my professional interests in the European justice system”, Aarne explains.

When launching his studies in Tallinn in the autumn of 2012, Aarne was of course very excited, but a little nervous at the same time. The main stress factor for him was simply the fact that the study programme was run completely in English. “I had not been using English in my daily life that frequently before, and then all of a sudden all communication was in academic English. At first it was a little hard, but very soon I felt that I was able to interact in English inside and outside of class without any major obstacles”, Aarne summarises his first months in Estonia.

The studies at the Tallinn Law School were composed of lecturing, independent learning, practical assignments and case studies including teamwork and presentations given by the students. “Of course it is crucial to listen to the lectures and learn about theories, legislation and the legal system as such. But I think that it is even more important to understand how the law can be interpreted in and adapted to different situations and contexts. To this end the different case studies and exercises were extremely useful”, Aarne reflects on his study experience.

On top of his studies in Estonia, Aarne took the initiative with some of his co-students to establish the Tallinn Law School Student Association as no such a forum was in place there yet. “There was an incredible amount of bureaucracy and administrative aspects involved in this venture”, Aarne says laughingly. “Had we known that in advance, we would never ever have taken the step to set up the Law Student Association. But now it is there and it is running all well.”

From Estonia to Sweden

Upon successful completion of his Bachelor level studies in Estonia (spring 2015), Aarne was interested in continuing his education in another country. So, again it was a matter of choosing a new study destination abroad. This time his choice fell on the Lund University in Sweden. The decisive arguments for him were that the legal education at the Faculty of Law there is based on research, has an emphasis on the EU and competition law and has the best ranking among the Nordic university faculties of law. Finally, it offers a solid foundation for entering a career in legal professions worldwide.

“I have truly enjoyed my study time in Sweden. One of the best things is that there is a perfect match and complementarity between what I learnt in Estonia and what I am now learning here. The most rewarding learning experience, while in Lund, has been the numerous visiting lecturers and external experts from the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, multinational companies and law firms. They have really added to the quality of learning with their legal expertise.”

“But now as I am supposed to finish my studies in 2017, my focus is getting more and more on how and where to enter the labour market. Making the transition from education to work as smoothly as possible is something that I am thinking of very much these days. I have had good summer jobs and other interesting part-time working experiences throughout the years. I also know how harsh the competition among graduates can be to find employment that corresponds to one’s qualification. So, I am well prepared for that!”

“As I see it, my professional orientation and my future career goals are somehow two-fold. On one hand, I am interested in a career as a lawyer in a larger law firm in the sectors of competition law, intellectual property rights and/or mergers and acquisitions. This could be in Finland or in any other European Union country. On the other hand, I could also see myself working for the European Commission in Brussels or for National Competition Authorities”, Aarne shares his future aspirations.

Aarne is promoting himself and his achievements to potential employers for any interesting job openings that fit his professional profile. “I am doing a lot networking within the academic circles and also in the private sector. Despite my young age, I have already learnt the value of setting up and maintaining good social relations and professional networks”, Aarne adds. “This is one of the key assets and resources that I possess!”

READ also the second part of Aarne’s interview through this link.

VISIT Aarne’s LinkedIn profile through this link.

SEE also this academic article by Puisto, A. & Alavi, H. (2016) Abuse of Dominant Market Position by Predatory Pricing - The Valio Case

Text: Mika Launikari based on an interview with Aarne Puisto (Löyly, Helsinki, on 10 July 2016)

Photo: Aarne Puisto



Interview with Aarne Puisto (PART 2): Studying law abroad, aiming at an international career

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Once you decide to go abroad to attain a university degree, you do not only go for the piece of paper, but for the whole experience of living in and adjusting to a new country and culture far away from your original roots.

When taking your first steps in the new country, you are in an unfamiliar environment and surrounded by total strangers. This can be both challenging and exciting at the same time. Yet living and studying abroad will change you and your life probably more than you can anticipate.

Mr Aarne Puisto (24), a Finnish law student, has studied in Tallinn (Estonia) and Lund (Sweden). Here he shares his observations and views on what it means to be running a life as a student abroad and how that influences you as an individual.  

We should avoid cultural stereotypes and generalisations

“I have gained my international experience in two very different locations in northern parts of Europe. Tallinn and Lund are two medieval cities, both with their own unique flair. Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and – in that regard – the place where all the magic, the important things happen in the country. Lund, situated in the region of Scania in Southern Sweden, is a smaller university town characterized by students constantly buzzing around the medieval streets”, says Aarne.

“As a Finn it is pretty uncomplicated to move to Estonia or Sweden. After all, these two countries are our dear neighbours and historically we have close ties with them. Also, we follow what is happening there in the media and we travel to these two countries on a regular basis. There are many similarities between them and Finland, but one should not be surprised by the differences either.”

“Only quite recently Estonia regained its independence (1991), and although the country is developing fast, there is still some of the Soviet-time burden left in the society. Occasionally this can be seen, for example, as a lack of client-orientation and service-mindedness in the shops, restaurants and even at the university, but luckily things are quickly improving there as well,” Aarne highlights his impressions.

“And to our great irritation in Finland, the Swedes again are just slightly better than we are in every possible area of life. This causes us an inferiority complex, a lack of self-worth and uncertainty, unpleasant feelings of not measuring up to their standards. We Finns just need to be a little self-ironic to cope with this and learn to laugh at ourselves!”

Aarne admits that we should avoid using such stereotyped thinking, when we talk about our neighbouring countries, even if there eventually is a kernel of truth in such generalisations.

You gain more self-awareness and self-confidence

“This may sound as a cliché, but indeed living abroad shapes you as a human being. Basically, if you voluntarily have taken the step to move to another country, it shows that you are a curious type of a person and not afraid of unknown things. Instead you are pretty much open to the world, eager to expand your horizons, to take some risks and to learn about the country you are residing in”, Aarne expresses his thoughts. 

“I have definitely become more self-aware and gained more self-confidence during my studies abroad. Of course, this is part of the process of growing up as well. Yet when in another country you have to learn to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient to cope with the challenges of your everyday life. You do not necessarily have such a support network around you as you would back home, and that means that you have to take more action and responsibility on your own. You become more independent, more autonomous, which is a very positive result!”  

Self-discipline and goal-orientation

In today’s competitive world you are expected to perform well and deliver high-quality results already during your studies. A high degree of self-determination, goal-orientation and persistence is exactly what is needed to do well in your studies, but also what employers are increasingly looking for among university graduates when recruiting them for junior level posts.

Heavy partying, irregular daily rhythm and an attitude marked by a lack of responsibility are often associated to student life by many. But of course this does not apply to all students.

“I consider myself being highly self-disciplined … I even tend to think that this personal quality of mine has got stronger while I have been living abroad. I also have the habit of being very organized with a pretty strict time schedule and always respecting the given deadlines. Although I am not that much of a party animal myself, I still like to go out and have fun with my friends every now and then. But generally speaking, I tend to go to bed early for getting up early the next day. I need this fixed rhythm for my work-outs and jogging rounds before I attend the university classes in the morning.” 

“I feel like being … or becoming a cosmopolitan, a citizen of the world, after all these years abroad. Europe is now my home-base, it is very easy to travel around and move to another European country. Being well networked, knowing several foreign languages, having good social skills and possessing a good qualification will open the doors for me in the future.”  

READ also the first part of Aarne’s interview through this link.

VISIT Aarne’s LinkedIn profile through this link.

SEE also this academic article by Puisto, A. & Alavi, H. (2016) Abuse of Dominant Market Position by Predatory Pricing - The Valio Case

Text: Mika Launikari based on an interview with Aarne Puisto (Löyly, Helsinki, on 10 July 2016)

Photo: Aarne Puisto

Clusterfuck and Merry-Go-Round

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Yesterday, quite by accident, I got acquainted with the term clusterfuck on Twitter. There was a posting in which this vulgar slang term had been used to describe the way things happen to be in the world right now – completely twisted and upside-down. Indeed it is quite easy to relate to it after last week’s Brexit and the latest terror attack at the Atatürk airport in Istanbul just two days ago.

In a continuum of sad, bad and mad developments that we have seen in the past months, you may start wondering where all order and structure have gone from this planet of ours. How come we have ended up living in a clusterfucked world, where everything seems to go wrong for most of the time!? Adding more control and regulating life more seem to be the quick cure to everything.  

Our societies have obviously become such complex environments that nobody alone has the capacity or competence to manage them effectively anymore. Is it so that the prevailing economic, political and social system has reached a saturation point where citizens are getting fed up with the current leaders and start looking for new, even alternative approaches to function and express themselves?

Maybe our joy ride on the Merry-Go-Round has come to a dead-end. The slowly revolving circular platform affixed with different types of seats does not necessarily serve its purpose anymore. It only resembles a bustle of activity that leads us nowhere. We are not at an amusement park, where we can escape from real life, have fun and pretend that all is well.

It may not be easy to accept that what was valid in the past is now invalid to a great extent. Into which direction do we want to go together in the future? Who decides on that? All of us! There is no space for the constant communication failures between us people and our leaders that we have experienced so many times before. More transparency and greater openness are called for.  

Finally, no matter on which side of the car the steering wheel happens to be (right or left), we have to make our best to turn it into a brighter future for us all in this turbulent, chaotic and out-of-balance world.   

Photo: www.recruiterpoet.com