Mahsa Mirfatahi
Created 27.6.2024
Updated 8.7.2024

With a chemical engineering degree in Mahsa’s pocket, her next step was to learn about the mechanical and machinery aspects of the industry. 

LUT’s Master’s Programme in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on new packaging became the perfect starting point for Mahsa’s career in the Land of Paper. 

And it brought her further than she might have dreamed: With tenacity and adaptability, she has worked her way up to chief engineer of chemical systems at Valmet. 

Digital support – staying connected remotely

The course of a dream come true never did run smoothly, and Mahsa’s way to success was far from a walk in the park. 

Leaving her family behind was difficult: “It is really hard to move to another country and be far away from your family. They worried how we could cope with the distance, but otherwise, they really supported me. My mother reminded me that I had been talking about my dream to study abroad from a very early age and wanted it to come true.” 

The digital age came to the rescue, with video and phone calls helping the family stay connected. 


Weathering Finnish winter – facing the challenges of a different climate

The first winter made her question her life decision to move to a country so close to the North Pole: “I still remember waking up in the morning with the world frozen over. At times, it was so cold that our eyelashes froze, and we thought we could not stay here. When summer and spring came, however, we totally forgot about the hardships of winter.” 

To survive the cold and dark, Mahsa took advice from her Finnish friends: “When I was about to refuse to go out in the cold, my friend taught me a Finnish saying: There is no bad weather, there are just unsuitable clothes.” 

Once Mahsa geared up against the cold, she quickly learned to appreciate winter and its outdoor activities. By now, she has become an avid amateur cross-country skier. 

“Now, at the end of summer, we already look forward to the snow”, she laughs. 


Hands-on learning – expanding education from theory to practice 

Studying in the Land of the Curious was entirely different from what Mahsa was used to in her previous master’s degree programme in Iran. 

“In Iran, there is just the classroom, the teacher and the final exam. At LUT, we had papers, team assignments and laboratory work throughout the semester to determine our grade. The practical approach to learning really helped to bring the theory I read in books to life and made knowledge tangible.”

The practical approach to learning really helped to bring the theory I read books to life and made knowledge tangible.
Mahsa Mirfatahi
LUT alumni
The professors always took the time to discuss issues, share their experience and help. At lunchtime, it would be common for professors to come and sit with the students; there was no hierarchy.
Mahsa Mirfatahi
LUT alumni

Friendly faces – LUT professors as approachable supporters

The professors, according to Mahsa, were nothing but supportive and approachable: “They were more like friends, not professors. They always took the time to discuss issues, share their experience and help. At lunchtime, it would be common for professors to come and sit with the students; there was no hierarchy.” 

During her studies, Mahsa completed a summer traineeship at Kemira, where she got to appreciate the true-to-industry approach of her studies. She greatly benefited from her experience with tools like  AutoCAD, immediately adding value to the project she was assigned to. 

“Working in the LUT labs with different equipment helped me to do my best for the project at Kemira,” she remembers. 

Learning the ropes – application tricks of the trade from LUT

Determined to land her dream job, she took a course at LUT that gave her valuable insights into application processes: she learned about calling hiring managers and crafting a convincing CV. The rest is history.

One piece of advice she shares with all internationals: "Learn Finnish! If you want to stay and work in the country, I recommend you start learning immediately.”

Mahsa landed a permanent job at Valmet on her second attempt. She feels her  valuable experience as a startup engineer laid the groundwork for the rest of her successful career. 

Paving the way – paying it forward and door openers

Mahsa embodies the value of being a trailblazer. She’s paving the way for others to follow in her path, and helping fellow internationals improve their CVs and fulfill their dreams. 

When asked whether the reality lives up to Mahsa’s dream of working in the Finnish paper industry, she nods: 

“Everything in Finland is up to date, and new technologies are continuously adopted. At Valmet, we get a lot of fresh ideas and perspectives from students that come and work for us during the summer – I really appreciate the open-minded communication.” 

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