It takes some, but it gives a lot. Why should you join the board?
I did it for the free food. I did it for the fun. I did it for the people. I did it for the connections. I did it for learning. I did it to build my reputation. I did it to create something new.
Would I do it again? 150 % sure and I might even do it again. I felt inspired and that’s why I’m going to open up my mind on being the chairman of OuluES for 2018. Let’s see where we will end up with this.
First, a bit of background. I’m originally from Helsinki, only been living in Oulu since summer 2017 when I moved here for doing my Master’s Degree at the University of Oulu. I do not study business even though I have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. I study education. Before joining OuluES I had some background in entrepreneurial setting, from education perspective since I have been working in that field for around 5 years.
Still it was somewhat jump to the unknown for me. I started in the board in autumn 2017 as a vice-chairman and then was elected as the chairman for 2018. When I started in autumn, I did not really know what OuluES was doing or has been doing in the past. The whole concept of Business Kitchen was unknown. The only person I knew in this city was actually my own grandmother and couple other relatives. My real, relevant connections were in Helsinki, 550 kilometers away.
I did it for the connections
They say that nowadays all ‘good’ jobs are hidden. You have to know someone who knows someone who can then introduce you to someone. That’s how it goes. When I moved here, my connection count was 0, on Linkedin I was connected somewhere around 500 people. Now on Linkedin I’m at 716 and connection count outside internet can be counted with hundreds as well.
From the Mayor Of Oulu, to heads of different local companies to students from different universities. That’s to name a few. This has opened many doors in Oulu. I have been invited to the city’s strategy workshops, universities’ focus groups for entrepreneurship and other local communities. If you just open your mouth, usually good things happen.
And the best part, it’s not only limited to Oulu. The entrepreneurship society network covers almost whole of Finland. From Helsinki to Turku, from Tampere to Joensuu, from Jyväskylä to Lappeenranta. You name it, we have it. A network of young professionals doing great stuff around the country. Throughout the year we meet in different events in different cities. Polar Bear Pitching, The SHIFT, Stream, Harvest, Spotlight and Slush just to name a couple of the big ones.
I did it for learning
This was expected being an educator. I can honestly say that the last 1,5 years have been the best learning experience I could have had. I have been in the working life already for 8 years, but still this time has taught me so much. I will list down here couple of things and then expand on them:
Event Design and Management
Planning and implementation of entrepreneurship programs
Cold calling skills
The list goes on and on. Some of those skills are completely learned during my time and some of them strengthened. If you said to me 4 years ago that you would be doing a 30 minute keynote in English at the University of Oulu, I would have laughed.
I have also recognized my strengths and see more clearly the places where I can still improve. When you are in charge of something, it really means that. If you do not do it, usually no one else will either (unless you learn to ask for help, which is really important).
I have noticed that when you get to do things that inspire you and you actually have a say on them, you can do them all day and all night. That what’s happened to me. It does not happen to everyone and it’s okay, but for me it was something that has pushed me forward. I might have a day at the university when I sit in class from 8 to 16, then do some ‘real work’ and then still in the evening have energy to design a new event concept that we could try out. I even remember one time pitching the concept of entrepreneurship society to a semi-stranger in a bar in Helsinki for 30 minutes… and the guy did not even buy me a drink.
I did it to build my reputation
Yes. In the era of self-branding this kind of experience is super valuable for your own brand. You can study for multiple master’s degrees, but so will many many more. How can you separate yourself from them? With the so called extra curricular activities. You will stand out of the crowd, when you have on your Linkedin profile that you have been an active member of a student organization such as OuluES. Entrepreneurship society is a word that is recognized in all big cities in Finland.
Before I started at OuluES, I though that “yes, I know a thing or two about working life skills and how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for learning, but I’m no expert”. I put above that my self-confidence has grown and now I can say proudly that “yes, I know quite a lot of the skills needed in the working life and how you can as a student develop them already in school”.
I did it to create something new
OuluES has been around for a while and the organization was founded back in 2011. We have different events and programs that have been around for a long time like Startup Crawl. Still, one of the best and most giving parts has been the freedom to create new things. This year we for example created and implemented a Human Accelerator -program that focuses on individuals’ working life and employability skills. The process for that started with a chat with an entrepreneurship society member in Turku and ended up being an eight week program with more than 20 participants in each workshop.
Another cool thing was a seminar in a movie theatre. This year we will arrange two Get Shit Done -seminars, which are speaker events. First one had +150 participants and the next one will be in November. Third new thing is our own entrepreneurship program, NY Start Up, which is done together with Nuori Yrittäjyys -organization.
I have said many time that we are a lean organization and it’s up to the people involved to create. If you have passion for something and you want to make it happen, this is the perfect platform for that.
I did it for the fun
The best thing is to see other people get inspired. That makes this fun. It can be a company visit, Startup Weekend, a workshop… aim is always to have fun in some way. As a student-run organization we can do things a bit differently and really do things from students for students. I think that one of the reasons, why people like to participate our events and programs.
What did I really do during the year?
The reflection part is the usually the hardest one. What does it mean to be the chairman of the board of Oulu Entrepreneurship Society? It means responsibility, it means leadership, it means learning by doing, it means DOING.
You could think that as the chairman I would just sit in some meetings and ask other people to do stuff. That’s one way to approach this, but I really enjoy doing. From carrying pizza boxes to sitting in a steering group meeting, been there done that.
Basically my responsibilities during the year have been:
Designing new event concepts like Human Accelerator and NY Start Up -program
Organizing events like Startup Weekend
Participating in different meetings and communities in Oulu and in Finland
Giving speeches and keynotes on topics that relate to our work
Writing project proposals and project plans
Pitching our work to companies and other organizations
Applying for our funding together with our partnership manager
Ensuring that we will have enough money for our activities
+ as a bonus, I got the chance to go to events like The SHIFT Business Festival in Turku and Slush in Helsinki and even visited the US Embassy
I did not have any prior experience on running a non-profit organization andI did not have any real life experience of handling budgets and money applications. All of this I have learned and now (almost) master them.
It takes some, but it gives a lot
Is it really worth it? Y E S. Definitely. Being the chairman has offered me a great platform to develop my own skills, expand my networks and learn. Since I have felt great passion for this, I haven’t even counted the hours that I have used for this. I’d would say around 10-15 hours per week, sometimes less and sometimes more depending on the events that we have.
I have heard from many people who have been involved earlier that this takes some from you, but it gives a lot more back to you. Just go to Linkedin and type in Oulu Entrepreneurship Society and you will see, where they are now.
I encourage you to join the activities and the board. We have great positions available for the upcoming year, starting from the chairperson title and other positions as well. Check them out here and fill in the application. You can apply to become the chairperson until 1.11. and on that day opens the applications for the other positions in the board.
Do not be afraid of applying. You can do it. You are not alone. You will have a great team around you. You will have me helping (if needed). It will be the best time of your student life. It is really worth it.
CHAIRMAN OF BOARD 2018