Alumnus of ISM: Jesse Rajala

After finishing his Bachelor of Business Administration at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Science and working for a few years, Jesse Rajala realized he wanted to further his studies. He ended up choosing Information and service Management at Aalto University School of Business due to the reputation, location and great selection of courses. Now a fresh graduate of Information and Service Management, Jesse talks about his studies, and gives a few tips to students coming from a University of Applied science background.

  • Would you shortly introduce yourself?

I am Jesse Rajala, a 29-year old fresh graduate of the Master’s Programme in Information and Service Management from Aalto University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences a few years prior. I began my master’s studies at Aalto Biz in 2017. 

  • Why did you decide Aalto for your studies?

After graduating from Haaga-Helia back in 2015, I acknowledged the possibility of continuing to a Master’s programme, but decided it was not worth it at the time. Eager to get into the working life, I thought I was ready to pursue my career ambitions in supply chain management and logistics. Working for a few years, I began to notice that my ambitions grew steadily and it became apparent that all the interesting open positions I found seemed to require a Master’s degree. Somewhere along the way I remembered that a Master’s degree was the end goal all along. The words of my mother to ‘maximise my potential’ and frequent debates with friends about the necessity of master’s degrees lingered in my head leaving me with only one option: getting that Master’s degree. Wanting to stay in the same field left me two viable options for a Master’s degree: ISM at Aalto Biz or Supply Management at LUT. I chose Aalto due to the reputation, location and great selection of courses.    

  • Did University studies differ from UAS studies?

In terms of course-work and lectures, the differences are noticeable. In UAS studies, courses and lectures were more intense with a strong practical approach and focus on building presentation skills whereas in university studies the lectures tended to be monologues by the lecturer or a guest lecturer with a few positive exceptions. Both studies included a lot of group projects. I didn’t feel that there was a significant increase in the difficulty of exams going from UAS to university courses. The key difference between UAS courses and university courses is that in university courses, the lecturer is not there to hold your hand and tell you what to do. While in UAS courses, where the lecturer acts more like a teacher and guides the learning process, at the university level, especially in the master’s-level courses, actually learning the course subject requires a lot of independent learning, self-guidance and active participation from the student. This is often learned the hard way, so this is probably my biggest takeaway to people coming to master’s studies from outside the university system.

Another significant difference between studying in a university compared to a university of applied sciences is the level of mathematical and analytical skills required to get by. This might depend on the study program, but coming from a bachelor program in business administration, I had to spend some time refreshing my more advanced high school math skills that I hadn’t used in over ten years. For UAS studies, basic math skills are enough, but university studies require a far more advanced maths skills. This caught me slightly off-guard, therefore I strongly recommend students starting their Master’s degree from a UAS background to take a few bachelor-level maths courses to start off. I know several people in my class who did just this, myself included, and it helps vastly. 

“ISM combines business and tech effectively, which is something companies really like right now and probably even more in the future.”

-Jesse Rajala, Graduate of ISM

  • What made you choose ISM? What did you specialize in?

I chose ISM as my Master’s degree program for its course offerings in supply chain management and logistics. Having worked and studied in the field, it was the perfect next step in my educational storyline. The idea of my master’s degree was to expand my knowledge on a very specific subject to become an expert of the field. Therefore, it was a logical choice to take the supply chain management track at ISM. The great thing about ISM that I learned is that even though the three tracks offered within the department at first seem irrelevant from each other, there is one underlying theme that links them together beautifully: data. After realising this, I began taking a few courses from the business analytics and information system science tracks to build a wider understanding into information and service management itself from courses across the track boundaries. I am really pleased with the end result. I gained more depth into my SCM knowledge while adding new valuable dimensions to my palette. ISM combines business and tech effectively, which is something companies really like right now and probably even more in the future.     

  • How have you translated your acquired skills to your work life?

Whether by luck or unconscious planning, I’ve noticed that I’ve managed to build my career path by expanding and utilizing my previous experience with surprising efficiency. In my current job as a business intelligence consultant, I am able to use my acquired skills, whether from school or work, to greatly benefit my work life. I strongly feel that choosing ISM as my Master’s degree major subject was a fantastic choice for my career, as it taught me valuable skills and has opened up doors I didn’t even realise existed. 

“I strongly feel that choosing ISM as my Master’s degree major subject was a fantastic choice for my career, as it taught me valuable skills and has opened up doors I didn’t even realise existed. “ 

-Jesse Rajala, Graduate of ISM

  • What has been your favourite course?

The most interesting course I took was Decision Making and Choice Behaviour and I recommend it for all ISM students. The course is a fantastic introduction into behavioural economics/psychology and is something every business school student should have at least a brief understanding of. The significance of this knowledge in actual business life can’t be emphasized enough. Product and Inventory Management was a great course that explored the mathematical modelling of inventory levels and yield management and taught me a lot. Lastly, my third pick for top course is Corporate Financial Management, and was part of my minor subject, finance. The course had an excellent lecturer, a challenging group project and provided a compact but thorough view into financial management. Yet again, something I believe every business student should know something about.   

  • What inspires you at the moment?

Finally getting closure on my educational goals, after years of ‘maybe, perhaps’, gives me the inspiration to be truly able to move on in life to focus my energy on my career and other aspects of life. Luckily I also found a perfect job during my Master’s studies, so I can delve straight into the working life, highly motivated and full of confidence in my decisions. Having already been full-time in the working life before, this time around the path is much clearer. 

  • What would you like to tell prospective or existing ISM students?

To prospective ISM students, especially those with UAS backgrounds: if you feel that you could have gone further with your studies to chase that career you really want, take the chance, I promise you will not regret the decision to apply to a Master’s degree. 

To existing students: do not forget to work on your soft skills, as usually those are the skills that get you places. Also, the ISM community is awesome, don’t be afraid to be a part of it. You might even end up finding job opportunities in surprising places.