Mika Launikari

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Need a professional change? Reinvent your career today!

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Turbulent times in working life challenge our sense of familiarity, security, safety and certainty. In this increasingly competitive and fast-paced world living in one’s own professional comfort zone, where all activities and behaviours fit a well-established daily routine, is not necessarily possible anymore. Those of us, who can step into the discomfort of uncertainty by taking risks and moving to new directions, will not only reap the biggest rewards, but will be able to survive professionally.   

The best you can do is always to be interested in developing yourself professionally. Entering new avenues in working life is much easier, when you systematically maintain a good and solid level of employability. Remaining employable throughout life means that you have the overall capacity to function in a job and be able to move smoothly between jobs and careers.

Yet the biggest obstacle for most people is self-doubt and fear of failure in relation to new professional challenges. Needless to say, any job or career change normally results in some stress and anxiety as we are not familiar with the new circumstances and may fear of losing control over the situation. This feeling of fear is only humane and will subside gradually.

For initiating a career change, you may consider these points:

What do you like doing and what are the things you do well? Make a list of your strengths and another list of your passions. Also discover what gives you joy in life, then determine your goals accordingly. Research career fields that would fulfil your passion and strengths. Maybe you have transferable skills that you can apply in a creative way to an area other than you are currently involved in.

What are your future career aspirations? Define the steps that are required to bring you to the desired job or career path. Maybe you need to broaden or deepen your skills and thus pursuing further studies will be high on the agenda. For this you may wish to consult a professional guidance counsellor or a vocational psychologist.

Is your professional profile recognizable? A good way to articulate your skills, experience, knowledge, and overall value in the eyes of potential future employers is to create a personal brand that helps you stand out in the crowd. Make an effort to put your achievements forward in a concrete and transparent manner (e.g. your CV/LinkedIn profile, your personal website).

How do your networks look like? Expand your personal and professional networks to include a wide range of different people as through them you can discover completely new career opportunities and get a broader overview of what is actually happening in the labour market.  These days up to 80 % of jobs are gained through networking instead of any other job search strategy. Also see how your network contacts could support you in promoting and marketing yourself.

Are you 100 % committed to what you want to do? If not, simply go on staying in your comfort zone! But if you really want to redesign your career, accept the fact that reinvention at any age can be a little frightening and it may call you to leap empty-handed into the unknown. But always remember, giving up the old and obsolete will bring you something much more valuable in the long run.  

Photo: www.griffith.ie/about-griffith/blog/open-new-doors-2015-your-business-career

A nationwide companionship to help refugees and asylum-seekers

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This week I participated in a seminar in Helsinki that was used as a public consultation among stakeholders across Finland who are dealing with migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. These stakeholders represented public and private sectors as well as NGOs. The main aim of the event was to generate views, initiatives and proposals to be included in the new National Programme for Integration and Migration that the Finnish Government aims at putting in action in the coming months (during 2016).

At the seminar the lively discussion with active exchange of experiences and open knowledge sharing was not only addressing the current state of affairs, but to a great extent looking into the future. The burning issue at hand was the numerous refugees who have been arriving in Finland in the past few weeks. Yet the views expressed were more focusing on how to support the easy access of these people to the Finnish labour market rather than problematizing their presence at the reception centres throughout the country.     

For the first time in my opinion, there was an intention to do things together (bottom-up and top-down), to do them well and most importantly to jointly work together towards a common goal. This is definitely needed as the financial resources in Finland are diminishing and better targeted and coordinated measures to help arriving migrants are in high demand. If only all actors will pull together, miracles will happen, and everybody will benefit from that.  

The concept of companionship is used to describe the way the national authorities wish that the cooperation across actors and sectors will look like in the future. No stakeholder alone can achieve much, but together we are strong and capable of creating something truly remarkable. So, instead of always emphasizing the administrative and legislative challenges between different sectors, Finland needs to rely on a companionship that reminds of a friendship across actors and sectors.

The current migration flows to Finland put a high pressure on the national authorities, the private sector companies and the NGOs. It is absolutely clear to everyone that there will be more people arriving in Finland from the war hit regions in the near future, and therefore we need a vision, a strategy and a well put-in-place cooperation for handling with due respect all foreigners who happen to come to our country for whatever reason. I am glad to say, indeed we are already working together towards this reality.    

Photo: www.todayonline.com

 

Better Science Communication - Getting your message across effectively

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Getting your message across is a key to every researcher and scientist. Thus, effective communication skills are regarded as part of the professional competences that all science students and academic scholars should have today. For many scientists, though, this role as a science communicator may appear challenging as they may fear that their promotion and communication activities can erode their academic credibility and damage their professional seriousness.

Actually, it is the other way around! The more skillful a science communicator you are, the more your own research and academic work get visibility and recognition. Especially now as there seems to be an insatiable interest in evidence-based knowledge across societies, effective science communication becomes an essential means of conveying your message to diverse audiences. Putting forward in a clear and concise manner the outcomes of your research to funding bodies, policy and decision makers, general audience, school children and academic peers calls for a customized approach to satisfy the information needs of these different stakeholders.

Science communication is a necessary ingredient of every scientist’s daily work. It ranges, for example, from writing peer-reviewed articles to giving lectures to university students, from preparing project proposals to talking on the radio or television, from blogging to tweeting, from giving policy advice to exchanging views with other academics representing different disciplines. All this becomes easier, if you know how to communicate effectively and how to modify your message for different purposes.

So, what should scientists bear in mind when making an effort to popularize their academic work in writing to the general public? For explaining the results of their often very complex research or describing their own field of science, they could easily improve the effectiveness of their science communication by following these principles:

KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE – First identify your audience and then make sure you have a distinguished message instead of just providing information. Avoid approaching the subject with too many details and with too much jargon. Rather keep your message on a general level and focus on one specific perspective that the readers well can relate to in their everyday life.

KEEP IT SMART, BUT SERIOUS – As your duty is to guide a reader through an unfamiliar trail, simply tell the story in straightforward language. The more concrete you are, the better the impact will be. Use the appropriate style of writing. Keep it serious and punchy, if you have a breaking news story. With a blog text, take a different, more relaxed approach. It is your chance to be clever.

KEEP IT SELF-SUSTAINING – Define the goal you want to achieve with your science communication. Also make sure you have chosen the right channel/s and medium/media for the given purpose. In any case, whatever you intend to communicate should be a self-standing message which is easily recognized, received and understood by the audience. Well-designed visualizations, matching photos or on the Internet even videoclips attached to your text will help catch the readers’ attention.

MAKE IT SOCIALLY SHAREABLE – If you write for a traditional newspaper or a print magazine, check if your text will also be published online as to increase its dissemination potential and accessibility through social media. As long as you manage to incorporate the human voice and interest in your science communication, you can be almost sure that it starts spreading on its own.

Visualisation: Wordcloud from Cornell University website