FatLife blog: Miia tells us what it was like to be part of Fatman’s trainee program

Fatman’s Customer Experience Trainee program started in the beginning of May 2022 when Fatman selected two trainees for the program. Miia Syrjä was one of them and we are really happy that she decided to stay with us after the trainee program and started as a Project Specialist in January 2023. Fatman has plans to develop the trainee program in the future and hire more young talent to the Fatman family.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where have you studied or worked previously, and what are your interests?

My background is in the events industry, where I worked for a bit over a decade. I’ve always been interested in project management but also more broadly in process and business development, and at some point, I started to long for a project with a longer life cycle than the days/weeks/couple of months that they tend to last with events. This led me to Business IT studies at Haaga-Helia, where I was able to attend the classes very flexibly while still working full-time.

As for personal interests, I think it’s easiest to describe through what kind of gifts I’d like to get: Any kind of experience (immersive theater, escape room, crafts class) or toys and gadgets any 8-year-old would want. Like Legos. Or robots. Ooh, or science and magic kits! To balance out my hyperactive inner life, I like to do different kinds of circus and flow arts like poi spinning and hoop dancing.

Fatman Miia Syrja

Why did you choose Fatman and specially why did you choose to apply for this trainee position?

I was looking for my first job in IT, a place where I could do my internship – and preferably my thesis – and came across Fatman’s ad through Haaga-Helia job teaser. The description seemed intriguing and included all the things that interest me. Also, the amazing video starring our CEO Ossi really hit home with all the supercool effects and elegant style. I applied immediately after seeing it.

So, what is it like to work at Fatman? Tell us about your normal working day as a trainee and what were the most interesting tasks? 

The first few weeks were a typical information flood, but the well-structured onboarding plan and the supportive atmosphere helped to stay onboard. The first few months we focused heavily on learning all about our product, Frame and in general Fatman processes.

Beginning of the Fatlife

The average day during the trainee period would include sitting down with one of our Product Owners to go through the current Helpdesk issues, attending internal and external project meetings and creating simple development tasks to Jira. The more we learned about the product and processes, the more we were able to start investigating, solving, and answering the user issues and customer requests independently.

The best tasks were the ones where I was able to figure out something on my own for the first time, or where I noticed that some logic that felt impossible to comprehend before, finally made sense!

Were you able to utilize the experience you have gained during your studies, did they prepare you for the working life and work culture?

There definitely has been some things that I remember reading about but had no previous real-life experience of, besides school projects. It has been really interesting to see for example how agile and scrum methods are followed in our two week sprints, and on the other hand how the customers operate in the traditional waterfall project management ways. In addition to school project courses, I feel I’ve also been able to utilize my prior experience quite nicely. Customer support and project management in different fields doesn’t differ all that much – in the end it’s always about people and communication.

Another difference I’d like to point out with school projects and working as Fatman Trainee is the offered guidance and support. At school most or all the course tasks were always self-guided and on your own responsibility, as there are no superiors or managers. Teachers are of course there to help, but there’s no one supervising your progress on a personal level. As a trainee it was a nice experience to be able to focus on the task at hand, and not worry too much about managing your own workload and thinking of what tasks should get done. I felt the trainee-period was more learning than result oriented, which was very motivating and reassuring.

Business applications

What is your role at Fatman after the Trainee program? Did those experiences and tasks during the trainee program effected on the role you got?

During the trainee period we had weekly check-up discussions with Jarno, our CE-team supervisor. The topic of possible future roles was brought up quite early on in these 1-on-1 meetings, and so it was possible to already focus some of the trainee tasks based on sparked interests and aspirations.

I am one of those people who aren’t afraid to admit I’m (just a bit of) an excel-enthusiast, so when I learned about Frame Lease management and IFRS 16, it immediately piqued my curiosity. After completing the roller coaster of “Fatman IFRS 16 Math classes” I was still onboard and determined to continue with the Fatlife. Now I work as a Project Specialist, assisting with customer feature sales and projects, and specializing in IFRS 16 implementations.

What are your expectations for the future?

I’ve always liked to work in between the technical team and the customer, making sure that the customers’ needs are understood correctly and that the delivering team has all the information and tools to make it happen. In the field of software development, I would want to expand this towards user experience and service design, to deepen my understanding of customers and end users.

On the other hand, it is also important for me to be able to develop the surrounding work culture and processes, and to drive meaningful change where needed. I see Fatman as a place where all these things are possible, and where I (or anyone really) can try out different kinds of paths and responsibilities quite flexibly. 

What advice do you have for those people who are starting their careers and looking for that dream job? 

Whether you are looking for your first job ever, or are someone changing fields, I highly recommend looking at all the different Trainee programs out there to find the right one for you. Many companies have annual or even bi-annual trainee programs with different focus areas and roles. And don’t worry if you’re not yet 100% sure what your dream job would be – Trainee programs are a good opportunity to see what interests you most.

Remember to also document all your school and hobby projects and start building your portfolio from the get-go. If you’re like me, and need some pre-defined projects to get started, join different Hackathons like Junction, Dash Hack or Mimmit koodaa hackathons and workshops. These are also great events to network, share experiences and get inspired!

Fatman reports revenue of EUR 3.2 million and operating profit of EUR 230 000 for FY2021

Fatman’s revenue increased 4 percent to 3.2 million euros in the fiscal year ending 30 November 2021. Operating profit was 230 000 euros. Due to the prolongation of the exceptional circumstances, the company’s number of employees dropped to 26 employees, but new recruitments have already been made at the beginning of 2022.

Despite the exceptional years, Fatman has continued the continuous development of high-quality SaaS services. Customer projects that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have finally started, and from the beginning of 2022, the company has obtained several new customers. The company has also focused heavily on the international sales and marketing of the IFRS 16 Lease Accounting add-on. In previous years Fatman has launched significant R&D projects for the development of IoT applications and the development of these projects continued in 2021.

The market situation and the company’s business are gradually starting to normalize after challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the company revenue decreased due to the pandemic in 2020, the number of employees was also reduced. From the beginning of 2022, the company started to invest in employee recruitment and more skilled labor has been hired in several different units. The normalization of the situation and the return of employees from remote work back to the office has been a big boost to the company’s everyday life.

The company has large significant new customers, international business plans, and continuous development of SaaS services, but the development of products made in cooperation with customers and effective customer service is still visibly among the company’s most important values. In 2021 the average customer satisfaction of satisfaction meter was a tremendous 4,5/5 and for this Fatman is especially grateful to its customers.