Kristiina Mutka-Vierula is a long-standing teacher who wants to highlight the importance of entrepreneurship and community in her work. Still, the best thing about being a teacher at a University of Applied Sciences is seeing how your work as a teacher drives students' professional growth.
Kristiina Mutka-Vierula ended up in the teaching profession quite by coincidence. She grew up in an entrepreneurial family and chose to study at the School of Economics. During her studies, her mother changed from working in the health care sector to teaching.
Her mother's example inspired Kristiina, but also her boyfriend's studies in economics and his learning experiences.
– Somehow, these things led me to a situation where, when asked to teach at a business school, I immediately agreed.
She left her job as a marketing consultant and began a long career as a teacher. For twenty years, she worked at the same business school where she, after the first year, also completed her teaching internship and obtained a teacher's qualification.
Practice and theory meet at the University of Applied Sciences
For almost 14 years, Kristiina has taught marketing and business administration at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. There, she is particularly inspired by virtual entrepreneurship, in which she has been involved from the beginning.
– Virtual entrepreneurship is a very practical way to learn, and we have proudly presented this model to other educational institutions abroad as well. It is a special pedagogical model of business economics in which students run imaginary companies and thereby study business. It is awesome to watch as students get excited and get a kick-start in their professional growth.
Virtual entrepreneurship is an illustrative example of learning at a University of Applied Sciences more broadly. The Universities of Applied Sciences teach knowledge and skills to future experts, but in addition to teaching, the task of education is to develop working life and the sector.
Of course, the development also materialises in every student.
– Working with young people is inspiring. There is something tremendous about the continuum I can witness as a teacher. A person gets excited, studies, goes into working life and makes a great career. Then comes the day I call them and ask if they can come to tell the new students about their career. Often, they also offer new students an internship.
"I learn something new every day."
The values of the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, Finland's best-awarded polytechnic, are entrepreneurial mindset, internationalisation, community spirit and responsibility. Kristiina concretely implements these values as a teacher. During the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, communality has been invested in a completely new way.
– I believe that fostering community has also played a major role during this period of distance teaching and learning, and it has made students more committed. There have hardly been any dropouts, and the students have been well involved.
The work is rewarding but also demanding. Kristiina finds it challenging in her work, for example, to make fair assessments when the groups are large. The things to be taught are also changing rapidly, so the work requires constant updating of one's own skills.
– I think that my job as a marketing teacher is to build a strong foundation based on the basics, on which it is easy for each student to develop their own skills.
Kristiina also constantly learns from her students.
– My motto is that you should always try and learn something new. Young people today are really smart, and I enjoy being questioned and asked. I have also learned a lot from my students. I can honestly say that every day I leave home, I learn something new.
Her commitment to her work stems from motivation and genuine concern for what she does.
– Success is in the small moments: In how you plan the course, execute it, get feedback and give grades. One course, one year at a time, the continuum goes on.