Meet our Alumna! Miryam’s advice: Listen intuition, value imagination, love a sense of curiosity, and learn how to sympathize with others

Miryam_headshotMiryam Haarlammert
Study field: Art Theory, Criticism, and Management
Graduation year: 2013
Employer and position: Program and Communications Associate at American Architectural Foundation

Hi Miryam, how did you end up in Finland?

I applied to study at the University of Helsinki after working for a Miami-based nonprofit for a year. I wanted to obtain a Master of Arts, and the Art Theory, Criticism, and Management program at University of Helsinki was attractive because it was dynamic and comprehensive. Also, location and sense of place are important to me, and I knew that I would have to study in a different country, with different values and customs, to obtain the type of education I was seeking.

You studied at the University of Helsinki in the master’s programme in Art Theory, Criticism and Management (ATCM). What motivated you in your studies?

As a student in the program, I was motivated by the holistic view of arts in society that the ATCM curriculum offered. I enjoyed taking courses in marketing and project management as well as in critical theory. Before pursuing my Master of Art, I obtain two undergraduate degrees (two BAs) in Art History and English Literature. I had interned at art galleries and during art fairs for over four years before beginning the program at the University of Helsinki, so I had been cultivating an appreciation for and understanding of the arts.

How did the studies support your employability aspect? Did you do an internship and if so, what kind of experience was that?

Knowing how to manage projects and having an understanding of marketing strategies are both incredibly important skills/experiences to have when searching for employment, particularly in the arts, cultural, and nonprofit sectors. In addition to those skill sets, the ability to understand, analyze, interpret, and expand upon complex ideas in philosophy, semiotics, culture, and linguistics is invaluable.

After my first year at UH, I completed an internship in Hong Kong with ArtAsiaPacific arts magazine as an editorial intern. I learned a lot about the world of publishing and the editorial process. It was a great and vital addition to my understanding of the scope of cultural sector.

How did University of Helsinki provide you with support, advice and guidance?

I was the recipient of the International Student grant upon entering, so there was some finance support, which is important. The advice and guidance from my professors, particularly from my thesis director and thesis writing seminar professor were foundational to my success. They were insightful, attentive, and interested in my writing and aspirations as well as great sources of information, and continuously connected me with useful resources.

What concrete benefits have you gained from your international background in your studies and life in Helsinki generally? And disadvantages?

Finland is internationally known for the importance the country places on education, so living and studying in Helsinki enabled me to gain insight that no documentary, short visit, or article (no matter how thorough) could offer me. I believe there is nothing like, as I mentioned previously, being in a place to obtain and create a sense of place. I am able to see things from a fuller, richer perspective because my understanding of Finland was based on the experience of living life there, paying rent, taking mass transit to school, purchasing groceries, etc.

I cannot think of a disadvantage that is unique to studying in a foreign country. Sure, some things were difficult, namely the weather. I am from Miami, Florida, so the lack of sun and the cold winter was tough, but also a great experience.

Could you still tell something about your current profession and future plans? 

I am the Program and Communications Associate at an architecture nonprofit, based in Washington, DC. I work closely with program directors on editorial as well as on events logistics.

I am currently working on setting my immediate plans into motion. My future plans will depend on how they work out…for now, I just hope to be able to engage people and communities in positive and meaningful ways.

Thank you for interview. Do you have any good advice for readers?

Listening to my intuition, valuing my imagination, loving my sense of curiosity, and learning how to truly sympathize with others have led to meet some incredible people and see wonderful things.