Juho-Atte Riikonen, a Human Geography major and Graduate Year of 2012 gives a tip for future BIDSters: “Do not feel like you have to work in the development field just because you studied development studies. Your expertise and way of thinking is valuable in other fields as well!”. Read more about Juho’s experiences below!
Well hello, my name is Juho-Atte Riikonen and I’m a 25-year-old Finnish national.
I ended up studying at BIDS because it seemed like the most comprehensive package for someone who is interested in geography and social science. In the beginning of the program I had no experience in the development field nor did I have much knowledge about the subject. What I did have was a drive for learning new things. I graduated from BIDS in 2012.
Specification during BIDS-Programme
I spent much of the three years trying to identify my niche from the wide array of things we were taught. For me who was still a bit confused about what specifically I wanted to study BIDS was a great chance to sniff around. I did an exchange in Melbourne, Australia, and was extremely happy to be able to freely choose what to study there. After I came back I started leaning towards human geography, design and planning. I studied some GIS-courses and wrote my thesis about urban planning in China.
Most useful lesson learned from the BIDS-programme?
I have often posed this question to myself (and friends).
Since social sciences is not a practical thing to study it can be hard to pinpoint the things you learned. However, now after 2 years of studying landscape architecture the benefits are becoming clearer. At BIDS you learn critical thinking, first and foremost. My time at BIDS made me able to not take things as they are. It has taught me to take a second look at everything (a highly needed trait in architecture for example). The critical perspective works the other way too, I am able to see good in things that seem bad on the surface. “It’s not that simple” is an expression that I value very highly now.
Other development -related activities
I have recently been involved in a few initiatives in Finland that relate to the envigoration and appreciation of rural culture. Otherwise I don’t have that much to do with the development field at the moment, which I find completely OK. I would be extremely happy to work with development projects but do not feel constrained by my previous studies.
Life after BIDS…
I started studying landscape architecture (master) in SLU Alnarp. They had a very nice open policy about previous study requirements. At the moment I am writing my thesis.
BIDS-tips for future students
Do not feel like you have to work in the development field just because you studied development studies. Your expertise and way of thinking is valuable in other fields as well!
From BIDS Alumni webpage I wish to…
See what kind of initiatives people have started. It would also be nice just to know what my old friends are up to.
I am not that great in planning. I’m more of a drifter.
Interview conducted and edited by Kia Silvennoinen