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Article | 12/10/2018 06:00:00

Working at a 102-year old plywood mill boosts self-esteem

It was the opportunity to work in an old mill setting for a trustworthy company that made mechanical engineering student Jaakko Pauninsalo to decide to apply for a summer job at UPM Plywood mill in Säynätsalo. “At the end of the day, it was great coming home with a feeling of accomplishment and knowing that the factory was running safely.”

Working at Finland's oldest operating plywood mill was anything but slow or boring. As a mechanical maintenance manager, Jaakko soon realized he had to make decisions quickly. “That summer really improved the way I handle stress,” he says. “When something breaks or a part needs to be replaced, you have to act fast so that production stays on schedule. I’ve found that a little pressure helps me do my job better.”

Jaakko’s days were spent making sure the machines were in tiptop shape: from preparing work orders for contractors, ordering spare parts, to scheduling maintenance and assigning tasks, as well as leading team meetings and making decisions.

Already in his second summer working at UPM, Jaakko was able to give input about his work tasks, which included everything from installing parts to working in projects and planning upcoming assignments.

“Maintenance is such a broad area, and it was great to work on different things as it is something that will help me in the future.”

A peek into working life

Mill maintenance is always executed in close cooperation with production and other units. Jaakko appreciated the opportunity to work with different people. “While an self-reliant spirit is needed, it feels good to know that there are colleagues to support me if I need any help. I have learned so much about taking on responsibility and making decisions. Going back to school after the summer, I’ll have a totally different outlook thanks to my summer job.”

After a hectic workday, Jaakko was all about exploring his new hometown, Jyväskylä. Early summer found him restoring an old Volkswagen, which his sister received as a wedding gift. On top of that he managed to find time to go to the beach, play sports and hang out with friends.

“It’s interesting to see, where I’ll end up working. I can even imagine myself working back in Kangasniemi, where my family still lives. Only time will tell, I guess.”

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Minea Hara