It is almost three o’clock at night between Saturday and Sunday when Markku digs his home keys from his pocket returning from work at the end of an evening shift. It is dark and quiet at home – his family have already been sleeping for many hours.
This used to be the normal every day rhythm for Markku. Morning, evening and night shifts. Whole free weekends were only a rare luxury. The spouses mainly met at the front door, one returning from work and the other one leaving.
Today, things are different, as Markku Lehtonen decided to change his career and now works as software developer at Protacon.
Originally from Kylmäkoski, Akaa, Markku graduated with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences in 2007 and later also completed a specialist qualification for bartenders alongside work. This 35 years old father of two under school-age children worked in the restaurant business for over ten years. His last job was restaurant shift manager in Amarillo, Jyväskylä.
Although he liked his job, the working hours and – on the other hand – poor opportunities for career advancement made him consider a career change. Shift work that is typical for the restaurant business is a difficult combination with family life – there was only a little time to spend together with his family as he often had to work during evenings and weekends and even the spouses had completely different work schedules. In addition, career progression would probably have required moving to Southern Finland, which would have presented its own challenges.
Towards new challenges thanks to educational leave
So it happened that in 2015 Markku was granted educational leave from his job, which allowed him to start studying information systems science at the University of Jyväskylä. He did not have any earlier experience in this area, such as coding, but he had always been interested in computers. He got his first computer at about the age of seven and during the years became well-versed both in playing and music editing.
His new career selection was also influenced by good employment opportunities, as well as more family-friendly working hours. Markku started work at Protacon as a trainee in autumn 2017.
– I learnt about Protacon during a recruitment event in Agora, University of Jyväskylä, and became interested. Since Protacon offered interesting jobs and technologies, I decided to apply for a traineeship, Markku explains.
During his traineeship, Markku worked as part of the development team for Protacon’s maintenance cloud service KuPi.
– As the result of traineeship, I also decided to change from information systems science to computer science. I prefer practical software development. It has the same kind of craftsmanship and creativity as in the restaurant business, Markku adds.
At the end of his three-month traineeship, Markku’s employment contract was renewed. Combining school and work has worked well. In principle, he works three days and studies two days.
No regrets over the career change
For Markku, the career change meant resigning from a secure job; however, he thinks that it is sometimes absolutely worthwhile leaving behind what feels familiar, safe and secure.
– I knew that the change would bring challenges, but I trusted myself to cope with them with good motivation and faith in that risk taking will eventually be rewarding, Markku says.
Markku has enjoyed his job at Protacon and thinks that the career change was the right decision.
– It is nice to have an opportunity to do things that help people’s everyday life. Getting to know new technologies and learning new are also rewarding. It is true there have been challenges, but they have usually been quickly resolved, since people are very helpful at Protacon. The working environment is relaxed and it is nice to go to work every day, Markku sums up.