Meeting people

Emma Kärkkäinen - from AFRY Future Stars to Process Engineer

Emma Kärkkäinen - from AFRY Future Stars to Process Engineer

"As a Stars trainee, I got involved in client projects from the beginning and during the internship, I gained work experience from both detailed engineering and project management". Emma started in our first student career path program in 2019. After completing the two-year program, she is now graduating from Aalto University and has started a full-time job as a process engineer in our Process Industry Division in Finland.

Meet our people Emma Kärkkäinen Finland
Emma Kärkkäinen, AFRY Future Star & Process Engineer

Emma, tell us a little about your studies

I am about to complete a Master of Science at Aalto University, School of Chemical Engineering, where I majored in biomass refining. My minor was industrial engineering and management and to gain international experience, I spent six months as an exchange student in Singapore in 2018. The first Future Stars program (at that time it was called Pöyry Stars) took place in 2019 and I was immediately interested in the concept since it included a summer job in addition to working alongside my studies. Getting to know trainees from other departments and gaining a better understanding of your own career path also motivated me in the application phase.

What was included in your Future Stars program?

As a Stars trainee, I got involved in client projects from the beginning and during the internship, I gained work experience from both detailed engineering and project management. In addition, I was involved in various in-house development projects. The working hours during the school year could always be flexibly arranged so that my studies progressed at the same time. The studies have been directly useful in work assignments, and on the other hand, the work during the internship benefited the studies. I also gained credits with my work experience because the work assignments supported my major studies so well.

For the past six months, I have been writing my master’s thesis for AFRY on dissolving pulp production. I was able to express my own wishes on themes of interest to me, and colleagues made a number of suggestions on the subject. In the end, I chose dissolving pulp because it combined a wide range of topics of interest to me, from environmental issues to the cost accounting of investment projects. In my thesis, I compared different bleaching methods with the help of fiber-, chemical- and energy balances of a dissolving pulp mill. In addition, I evaluated, among other things, costs and water use.

Versatile work in the “pulp team” awaits

After graduation, I will now continue as a full-time employee in AFRY’s Process Industries Division in the same team where I was a Stars trainee. As a process engineer in the pulp team, my job description is nicely versatile, as it can include assignments ranging from individual studies to pre- and detailed engineering of pulp mills. It is really interesting to see, for example, the progress of long engineering projects over several years. On the other hand, there is a lot of variation in project work so there are always opportunities to learn something new.

How would you comment on Future Stars?

The Future Stars program was helpful in outlining my own interests, strengths and development needs. The program met my expectations well, actually exceeding them in its versatility. It was also great to meet other trainees from different fields and learn new ways of working from them. Different training days provided preparation for both the internship period and the tasks that follow it. For the new Stars, I want to stress the importance of asking for feedback. It’s a good idea to go ahead and try different assignments even if the topics aren’t familiar in advance - even surprising things can prove really useful later on.


AFRY’s next Future Stars career path program for students will launch in May 2021.

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AFRY Future Stars programme

What is it about? Please, read more about our one-year programme for students of natural science, engineering and business.