Way to the top

Students tell

New friends and roll-up-your sleeves work

I am from Kuusamo. I was accepted at Lapland Tourism College in autumn 2011 into a programme offering training as a waiter or waitress. My choice of school was based on many considerations. I knew early on that getting a qualification as a waitress was what I wanted, because I had waited on tables since the ‘work a day for the community’ days in grades 7 through 9. So the work was familiar to me already. There would have been training available in the field in Kuusamo as well, but it was combined with training as a cook. I wanted to focus specifically on the profession of waitress. In addition, after basic school I wanted to spread my wings in a slightly bigger town.

Rovaniemi was a natural choice, because I have relatives there and had heard good things from them about Restaurant Oppipoika. It seemed like a fun and relaxed place to study. I had also looked at school’s web pages and heard about Oppipoika from friends of mine. Rovaniemi is also close enough to my home that I can go to Kuusamo for the weekend.

I was nervous when I applied to the school. At the time I was quite a shy and quiet person and I was very nervous during the group interview. But the interview went well and I got in. My time at the school was nice and I am happy to recommend it to others. The main thing I remember is that I made an enormous number of new friends. I also liked the fact that the programme I was in involved a lot of practical training, where you use your hands and get to do things yourself. There was less in the way of theory and sitting in the classroom.

In my last year, I went straight from a placement to a job and worked for an entire year in addition to studying. I also took part with Juuso Killström in the Finnish Cook and Serve championship, held in Pori. With encouragement from the teachers and general curiosity, we decided to try our luck in the competition. Juuso had finished a traineeship in Iceland just before the competition and came back to Finland a week before it. We did nothing but practice that last week. We felt that the competition went well but when the judges read out the standings and listed the silver medalists, Juuso and I were absolutely sure that we had ended up fourth. When the judges then said the winner was the team from Lapland Tourism College, I burst out crying. At 0.7 points ahead of the second-place team we had won the Finnish championship.

I got my qualification as waitress last spring and now live in Oulu. I have a permanent position at the Grill-it restaurant there. At the moment I am living the hectic life of a young working person. I have not excluded the possibility of continuing my studies or studying some other field at some later date. At the moment, though, I want to focus on my work.

Emma Sarajärvi studied and obtained a qualification as a server at Lapland Tourism College from 2011 to 2014.

Emma Sarajärvi