Summer University stories: Puzzlers’ paradise

By Mari-Liis Kariste, Summer University Project Manager, October 25, 2018


Picking things apart and figuring out what makes them tick has always been Nelli Vassila’s passion. At Nortal Summer University, she found a way to turn that craving into a career.

“Every day I come to work, I get my coffee, I get my list of puzzles, I solve them and I go home happy.”

For Junior QA Specialist Nelli Vassila, the setup at Summer University couldn’t have been more ideal. She’s had an appetite for IT puzzle solving ever since her first glance at code a decade ago. A short course for absolute beginners (“they actually compared programming to baking a cake”) was the spark that lit the flame.

“I really wanted IT,” she said. “I was hooked.” It took a few years to find the time and the courage, but eventually Vassila enrolled in a two-year vocational study program. Halfway through, she decided to apply to Nortal’s Summer University.

“Nortal is really good at providing options to work part-time, so I’d also have time for my studies,” she explained. More than that, she’d already set her sights on Nortal after hearing plenty of positive reports from relatives working in the company.

“It sounded like some kind of paradise — the best work ever.”

Exceeding expectations

Such a glowing reputation would seem hard to live up to, but Vassila said her Summer University experience left her with absolutely no disappointments.

“It was everything I expected and more. There wasn’t anything I could have thought of that could have been done better.”

She says she particularly enjoyed the international atmosphere of the training, and found the material engaging.

“I personally liked the technical part most, because that was newer for me. For example, I hadn’t worked with Postman [API development software] before. They introduced Postman and I was like, ‘Oh wow. You can do it that way?’”

Learning by doing

A few days into her Summer University, Vassila joined a team working on an ongoing telecom project. The learning curve was steep, she said, but manageable.

“It’s a huge project. To really understand how everything relates with everything else just takes time and practice.

“But I have very supportive team members and an excellent tutor who always has time for questions. He provides good answers in a way that doesn’t directly answer but points out how I can do my own research,” she said.

Though she’s still relatively new in the company, Vassila said that Summer University has shown her that Nortal is the right place for her.

“I like the people, the puzzles and the constant learning. Naturally, I want to learn more and make a career out of it,” she said. “Of course I’m biased since I’m still in my honeymoon period, but still I don’t understand why anyone would ever want to leave this place.”