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A history major knows her data

Ilona Virtanen has a Master of Arts in History. She works as a liaison manager at the University of Helsinki.


Mural at the National Library of Finland, where Ilona worked as a project manager

An innate interest in the past led Ilona Virtanen to study the history of Nordic countries after graduating from high school. During her studies she became fascinated with the colourful history and society of Finland's southern neighbour, Estonia. As part of her studies, she also learned Estonian. When the opportunity came to work at the Embassy of Finland in Tallinn, she applied and landed the job. Knowing the language helped, but by that time she had also become acquainted with the history, political system, and culture of Estonia in her studies.

​After working in Tallinn for a year, Ilona returned to Turku to finish her studies. Working life had given her fresh motivation for her MA thesis. It also made her aware of the skills relevant to working life that she wanted to develop and practice in her thesis. She wrote her thesis on the history of city planning of the city of Tartu.


Soon after graduating, an interesting project came up in the electronic services at the National Library of Finland. Ilona became a project manager in the national consortium for academic journal databases. Thanks to her studies where she had learnt both efficient data management and project skills, Ilona was well prepared for a job that involved a lot of planning, negotiating, and handling of large quantities of data.

​Her career path has since lead Ilona to managerial duties at the University of Helsinki, where she now works as a liaison manager and a team leader for international fundraising. She feels confident working in a multicultural environment and sees her background as a historian as an asset in finding ways to approach people from different backgrounds.

​​Ilona’s top 4 skills

  1. ​Language skills

  2. Interculturality skills

  3. Knowledge & information skills

  4. Communication skills



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