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Career story, Saija Saarenpää: A broad skill set as a gateway to success

A broad skill set as a gateway to success | Saija Saarenpää

Saija Saarenpää is a passionate software developer who in addition to her development work at Vincit also does graphic design. When it comes to work, Saija enjoys learning new things and developing her skills on a wide spectrum. Her free time is filled with Lego bricks and handicrafts, and she likes to stay in shape by running and cross-country biking.

A broad skill set as a gateway to success | Saija Saarenpää

High school elective as a gateway to coding

Saija’s coding journey began already in high school, where she ended up taking an elective in programming. The language used on the course was Turbo Pascal, which Saija soon took a liking to. Apart from programming, Saija was also interested in graphic design, but finding an IT study program in the Tampere University of Technology study guide set her on a path to becoming a coder. She never forgot her passion for graphic design, though, which she also later studied at Helsinki Design School.

Saija first came in contact with Vincit at a networking event aimed at women some six years ago. At the event, Saija found herself sitting next to Johanna Pystynen, who’s now in charge of Vincit’s LaaS Company. “We introduced ourselves and Johanna soon discovered that I was a coder. She immediately asked me if I was interested in applying for a job. I thought about for a while, and after one month I submitted my application. I haven’t looked backed,” Saija recounts.

A broad skill set as an asset

Saija has a lot of experience in various mobile and web projects. “Before Vincit, my strengths lay in Qt applications and mobile platform development for Linux-based phones. I’ve also worked as a full stack web developer using Node and React,” Saija says. At the moment she’s working on a cross-platform desktop app using the Qt framework.

When it comes to graphic design, Saija has mainly focused on designing icons, but she has also done logos and graphic charters. Saija considers her range of skills as a strong suit and is always on the lookout for opportunities where she can put everything she knows to good use, be it in coding, design work or even 3D modelling. Her next goal is to learn game programming with Unity, as Qt’s 3D framework is something she’s already worked with.

“In this line of work, you need to be willing to learn new things since the field is constantly evolving,” Saija muses. Luckily, there are plenty of good video tutorials as well as more advanced courses which allow anyone to develop their skills independently online. “Joining and making use of various networks is always a good idea too. Who knows, they might help you land your next job,” Saija says.

Nothing beats solving problems

Saija’s favorite thing about coding is problem solving and the feeling she gets when a solution is finally found. “There’s nothing better than to come up with a super elegant solution to a problem you’ve been working on,” Saija says. Sometimes, experiences of success can take a surprising form: Saija is reminded of a web service which has been in production for several years without any serious problems. “I think you can call that a small miracle”, she laughs.

Saija’s been using C++ since her university days but has only recently come to realize how the programming language has given her a head start when it comes to mobile platform development and Qt. “Even though I’ve worked with Objective-C, Swift and Javascript over the years, C++ still has a special place in my heart,” Saija says fondly.

Freedom and responsibilities in a perfect balance

Saija feels the best thing about working at Vincit is the freedom that the job allows: being able to choose your own tools and to work where and whenever you want as well as not having anyone breathe down your neck are a luxury.

“I also have to mention our amazing work community,” she adds. Saija often works at the client’s premises but luckily her colleagues are only a Slack message away. Slack gives the opportunity to take part in interesting conversations and to check out funny memes and other motivational boosters. “Let’s hope that this current coronavirus situation blows over and we’ll be able to have normal get-togethers at the office soon. I’d love to see my colleagues face-to-face again,” Saija says.

P.S. If you want to connect with Saija, send her an invitation on LinkedIn or follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @saija_kristina.

Interested in joining our fun-loving bunch at Vincit?


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