Meet our alumnus! Tianyan Liu “Computer Science is revolutionizing all aspects of our lives”

tianyan liu_universityofhelsinki
Tianyan Liu holding the Alumnus’ speech at the International Graduation Event, May 2011.

Tianyan Liu
Study field: Computer Science (Intelligent Systems), minor in Economics
Graduated: 2010
Employer and position: Viivamedia Oy, Software Developer

Hi Tianyan, how did you end up studying computer science in Finland?

My dad used to work in the Chinese Embassy, and I came here to study when I was 18. What motivated me to study Computer Science was the fact that computer related technologies have become the force that is revolutionizing all aspects of our lives. It has a good job prospect, and is also important for basically any career path. During my studies, what motivated me were the interesting studies provided by the university, and the brilliant people around me.

What is your profession at the moment?

At the moment, I am a lead developer doing front-end development, mostly with web technologies. We have a lot of clients in the field of publishing and media. I previously worked at the university as a research assistant, as well as at a company called Movial Creative Technologies. At Movial, I was doing front-end and back-end development on embedded Linux platforms.

How did the studies support your employability aspect? Do you think that Finnish language studies have a crucial role in job hunting in Finland?

One thing I consider that really helped me in terms of employability is personal relationship. I was working at Movial before I came to the university, so I didn’t really use any service provided by the university. The research assistant place that I got was by talking to a friend that was on the same course with me. After graduation, I started working with a friend who I studied together before the university. In that sense, I have been really lucky. As already mentioned, I think personal relationships have been instrumental in helping me find jobs.

As for my work, Finnish language hasn’t been really necessary, though it helps with communicating with your colleagues, especially outside the work context.

Are there any concrete benefits or disadvantages you gained from your international background in your study and/or work life?

Being international is a good thing, especially in a field such as mine. Technology is one of the leading export of Finland. It means that companies have a lot of international clients. International employees can provide valuable insight into these different cultures, and add value to other aspects of the company.

The obvious disadvantage is the language. Knowing Finnish would not only benefit the general workflow, give an extra edge to the resume, but also affect the prospect for promotion. As one gets into a higher position in a company, Finnish language becomes more and more important. Again, this depends on the company that one works for, but when one is in a position of managing other people or managing clients, communication plays a key part.

What kind of plans do you have for the future? Any good advice for the readers?

I am actually going to do an MBA degree in Shanghai starting in August. I am hoping this could broaden my employment possibilities, and take me to the next phase of my career.

Having extracurricular activities is one thing I would recommend for all new students, especially the activities that involve students from other faculties. These activities can enrich your understanding of different fields and provide more opportunities in life.

Picture: University of Helsinki