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Career after graduation – Joonas Siivonen – PerkinElmer

Joonas graduated with a master’s degree in biotechnology in spring 2011. Before graduation, in January 2011, career opportunities took Joonas to Turku, and that’s the path he has stayed on. As a counterbalance to his work, Joonas says that he enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling. 

In high school, Joonas was particularly interested in physics, chemistry and biology, but clinical medicine did not seem like his calling. The biotechnology study direction comfortably combined all the subjects that interested him, and Joonas was bouncing around with the idea of a career as a researcher. 

At the time, there were five majors. Joonas ended up doing all the compulsory studies from bio-business and molecular biology majors. Joonas did his master’s thesis in the university research group in which he had been working in the summer and worked there before stepping into working life.  

Career path at Aqsens 

When Joonas was finishing his master’s thesis, he had the opportunity to work at Aqsens in Turku. Joonas’ plan was to continue his early research career by applying for a doctoral dissertation position at EMBL in Germany, but between the application periods, he also decided to try his wings on the industrial side. Joonas moved to Turku, worked at Aqsens for days and wrote his master’s thesis in the evenings. Joonas’ job description as a product development chemist included the development of various commercial assay methods, and the work was mainly carried out in a lab, followed by the analysis of the results. 

The experimental part of the master’s thesis had already been completed before Joonas moved to Turku, which made it possible to him to work at Aqsens. Joonas completed his master’s thesis during the spring, and in the summer of 2011, Joonas graduated from the university. Joonas recalls that he did not feel that writing his master’s thesis combined with working life was tough. Still, he recommends to write your master’s thesis before working life. There is a risk that working life will take its toll and the thesis will be stretched or left undone. Joonas is grateful to his of the time supervisors, who limited graduation as a condition for getting a permanent job. Joonas participated in an interview with EMBL during the spring, as planned.  EMBL offered a place and there was a choice ahead. However, Joonas had started to be more interest of the corporate side, and eventually Joonas decided that he would have more to learn in that area. Joonas worked at Aqsens as a chemist for 2-3 years and then as a supervisor. 


Current career at PerkinElmer 


After seven years of work at Aqsens, Joonas applied for a job at PerkinElmer and started there as a project manager in 2018. His job included leading product development processes, supporting team in problem solving and management of the communications. Nowadays Joonas is working at PerkinElmer as a R&D Department Leader which includes developing determination methods, managing department operation, following projects and taking care of the project team and their needs. PerkinElmer produces different diagnostics for prenatal and neonatal disease screening. The product development processes that Joonas is involved in are focused on around different reagents. Joonas describes his workdays as full of meetings and approving and commenting on product development documents. He says that the best thing about his current job is finding solutions to technical problems and seeing the results in real life health care. 


Tips for students 

Joonas encourages to study the things that really interest you and not to worry if some study combination is irrational or good enough for applying for a job. Joonas says that work life is multidisciplinary, for example, biology can be combined with ftware sciences or mathematics. If you have interest in working with diagnostics, Joonas recommends getting familiar with quality regulations and the ISO13485 standard. When applying for a job, Joonas says that it is good to apply even if you don’t fully check all the boxes in the job advertisement. For example, word “Chemist” in job posting could mean person that has experimental background and not just a person that has graduated from department of chemistry. It is good to clarify in the job interview what the job is about. Joonas says also that group working skills are important in the working life. He says that group work in studies is an excellent place to practice your social skills and how to divide the responsibility and workload. At the end of the interview Joonas recommended to seize the opportunities that come across you even if they don’t fully sit on your current plans.