Starting my alumni activity

Helsinki, 16 degrees

Once again, I've had an eventful week. To make a summary, I must take you through each day, day by day. Sit back, get comfortable and enjoy.

Last Monday I had the chance to start my alumni activity. An alumnus (pl. alumni), according to the American Heritage Dictornary, is "a graduate of a school, college, or university." When I graduated in 2010, I made a promise to give back to my school (polytechnic) Arcada and come visit from time to time to have some presentations telling new students about my life after graduation.

Planning a presentation like this gives you a perspective on things. If I'm able to give a presentation like this, I must have reached a place worth talking about. Somehow, when one works all the time, the actual achivements that one had, get blurry and it feels like one hasn't achived anything special in life. That's when presentations like this are truly needed. Not only the presenter, in this case little old me, give something to the audience, but the audience gives something back to the presenter as well.

While planning what to talk about, I tried to think back on all the powerpoint presentations I listened to in school and make one truly interesting and easy to relate to.  I remember the ones I found the most interesting were the ones that related to me, that I could reflect on my own life with.

I tried to first present Helsinki as a working tool, because after all, the city is the best working tool I have at work. I mean, my work wouldn't be useless without this great city as a foundation. I talked about the strenghts of the city, and how we try to promote the city and its brand. I also told the students about the difference between a travel agency and a tourist office since for first year's students that have just started their studies these things might not yet be too familiar.

 I also mentioned some figures to show the importance of tourism in Helsinki. A stunning 49% of the whole country's turnover in the tourism field comes from Helsinki!

Every year has been a record concerning overnights in Helsinki. The newest statistics we have are from 2010 and that year we had over 3 million overnights per year which meant a growth of about 10%. That's huge! This year is already known to become a new record year. We still have potential to extend the overnights since we in 2010 had 1,3 million day visitors per month, only here for a day. What amazing potential! Together the visitors we have in Helsinki bring in 1,1 billion euros to the city, so we're talking about a field of high economical importance!

Some of the students were surprised over the TOP 10 countries concerning overnights.

 The list looked like this in 2010:
1. Russia                 2. Germany            3. UK                    4. Sweden              5. USA                
6. Japan                  7. France               8. Italy                    9. Spain                 10. Estonia

The fact that Sweden only comes as number four surprised at least the Swedish students that were among the listeners. I've done all my school in Swedish but in my class we didn't have anybody coming originally from Sweden though. This year, the new class had around five students from Sweden I believe. That made me happy. It's nice to know that Swedes have finally understood that they can study in Swedish in Finland. I could only imagine how exciting it would have been to study along a Swede. Even though our cultures are similar, it would have been interesting to notice the differences and learn from each other.

Are there any surprises in the TOP 10 in your opinion?

The students were also surprised over the growth of the Estonian visitors. Since 2009 there was a growth of 42% concerning only Estonian visitors in Helsinki. 

I also had to tell the students something about how my workplace is organized and go through our organisation model and so on, as well as our budget.

 I think though that they got the most out of the part when I tried to tell about my own work and things I have had the chance to be envolved in, like marketing tours in the country, events abroad, interviews for magazines, radio and TV and then producing text for the social media at our work place like Facebook and our work place blog.

They asked a lot about my personal work tasks and my opinions about Helsinki's TOP 10 sights and attractions. Of course they also wanted to know about silly questions we've had at the office.

I must say that they gave me a great impression. Of course there were shy and one could noticed that they had just started their studies, but I saw great potential in them as well. I thought to myself: if these are the future workers in the tourism field, we're safe. The best thing about them was that they were curious, they were truly interested in what they study. Motivated people are the best thing!

After the presentation some of them came up to me and said a big thank you. They said that they learned a lot, aaw! The icing on the cake was the bottle of red wine they gave me as a thank you.

Now I know that I am competent enough to have these kinds of presentations and I look forward to see how tourism students change with time!

What's your opinion?