Jonna Määttä is a final year marketing student at Haaga-Helia UAS. She spent the summer of 2022 at Altum’s Helsinki office as a Marketing Trainee. In this post, she will share her experience.
“What does Altum do?”
“Well, traditionally industrial pipes, heat exchangers, and whatnots must be cleaned with chemicals. Or by detaching the pipes and scrubbing them clean manually. But with Altum’s technology…”
This has been the story of the summer – a story I have shared with aunts, uncles, and new friends with shy pride. It has felt comfortable to stand behind the idea of this Finnish startup. I became a fan of the concept right from the start. Helping companies worldwide to save energy and decrease pollution? Sign me up!
Learning how to do marketing for an international B2B technology company has not been so easy. I mean, wow. I did not fully figure it out in 3 months, but despite that, I am certainly not left empty-handed. Let’s have a look at my ups and downs.
Trainee plan: use your strengths, and learn along the way
If one looks for a comfortable and fulfilling job, there is probably an ideal ratio of familiar tasks, unfamiliar tasks, and educating yourself on the job. It might go something like 80/10/10.
With zero experience in international B2B technology, or marketing, you can already guess my ratio was not on the comfortable side. My prior experience was from various customer service and office jobs.
I did not check all the boxes when I started as a marketing trainee, but I had a plan to fill the gaps. This meant doing three suitable marketing courses and one graphic design course over the summer, meanwhile working as a trainee.
With my future knowledge and my earlier experience, we made a rough to-do list that included
- Designing visual material, such as a conference poster, sales presentations, and flyers
- Developing the company’s PowerPoint template and creating a guide for using the templates
- Editing and writing blog posts
- Evaluating and updating marketing strategy
The tasks were then prioritized by my supervisor. Of course, being the perfect human that I am, I succeeded to cross all things from the list in no time.
Well, not quite.
Trial and error
To me, the leading idea of a trainee period is learning as much as possible, and learning does not happen by doing only familiar things. Even though learning is extremely rewarding, it is mentally draining! Doing many tasks for the first time might make you feel like there is truly little you actually know. Luckily, that is not the whole truth. A little discomfort is rewarded at the end.
Here are some of my unpleasant notes wrapped in a comforting lesson.
- There are no quick wins – marketing is a long-term game. The hardest thing is just trusting the process, and, of course, adjusting while you learn.
- Also, there are no quick wins in learning and getting things done. Put in the hours and something good will follow.
- Done is better than perfect. Done is better than perfect. Done is better than perfect.
- The world situation and global atmosphere have been very unstable, which brings its own spice to the game. It is important to learn not to carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders. “Peel one potato at a time.”
- You are not a technology expert. Even though you are sharp and try your best, you might still accidentally use a picture of an oil refinery when the blog post is about the pulp and paper industry. And while that is fairly awkward, it is not the end of the world. (But someone should totally fix that photo.)
My trainee period at Altum was not all fun and games – although it was pretty fun! While I am the main person responsible for my learning, the surroundings had a massive role, too.
What were the good practices that made a fruitful environment?
Concrete actions for a good atmosphere – Altum passed the vibe check
For all the learning to take place, the workplace must feel like one where you can be yourself and where the circumstances support your success. This is how Altum checks my boxes.
Working conditions. While many trainee positions are unpaid, at Altum I was compensated for my work. It allowed me to fully focus on the position without having to worry about income. And, of course, being compensated made me feel like a real, serious employee and an important part of the company. The list continues with lunch benefit, getting my basic equipment, and a proper introduction to the company policies. The growth plans of the company made it clear that I definitely was a needed addition to the team. Everything strengthened the feeling that I was not just brought to the venue to make coffee (at Altum we use ultrasound to… just kidding, only a regular coffee machine).
Atmosphere. Like a modern-day company is supposed to, Altum is flexible on working hours and location. Heck, I spent a week in Italy working remotely and dedicated another week solely to a graphic design course. I was incredibly pleased to experience this kind of trust from the very beginning. This kind of respect and equal treatment helped create a relaxed atmosphere. Everyone has been helpful and patient, be it explaining the technology, dragging the newest central unit to the courtyard for a photoshoot, or showing me where to park my bike. Oh yes, I’m a bike commuter now!
A unique enterprise. While a larger and established company might have its plans written in stone, a startup feels more like a place where you have more saying. The hierarchy is low, and I have been discussing with nearly everyone in the company. I cherish the moments when I have spontaneously been able to ask what COD is (the answer is Clamp-On Device), or when I have been shown what monitoring the devices looks like (it looks very cool). Plus, the basic idea behind the company is something that will improve the world we live in – what a spectacular reason for going to work every day.
Finish = Start
There were ups and downs, but the long-term learning curve is looking good. Overall, my trainee experience has given me insight on my SWOT, and I have learned a lot. Marketing has such many branches and specialties and I have just scratched the surface.
I am grateful that at Altum I got to know some of the real problems different industries are facing. We are working determinedly to help our customers, and marketing is the channel for communicating our efforts.
And I am excited to learn all about that.