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Jenni: Department Secretary for the Minister of Social Affairs and Health

Jenni Lahtinen. Silmälasipäinen ja vaaleatukkainen nainen kävelee kadulla liilassa takissa. Taivaalta sataa lunta. Taustalla näkyy talon punainen seinä, ikkuna.

Jenni Lahtinen started working as a Department Secretary for the Minister of Social Affairs and Health through job rotation. Lahtinen has only worked for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for just over two years, but has had several different posts and has worked on the social and health care reform, among other things.

What do you do in practice?

- I assist the Minister in handling and replying to citizens’ letters. I also make sure that invoices are paid. In addition, I assist and sit in for the Minister’s secretary, make meeting arrangements and sit in for the secretaries of the State Secretary and Special Adviser.

How does your job affect people’s everyday lives in Finland?

- One concrete thing is handling and replying to citizens’ letters. So it is important to write a clear reply that gives hope. It is great that the Minister herself reads the letters.

Why did you want to work for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health?

- My mother has always worked for the State and as a secretary. After upper secondary school, I started to think about this as an interesting career option, because you get to do so many different things. Luckily, I got accepted into the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences for administrative assistant training. During my studies, I did a three-month internship at the Prime Minister’s Office Communications Unit. That is where I got interested in government administration, because what the government does affects people’s everyday lives.

What is it like to work for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health?

- The tasks here are interesting. I have only been here for two years, but new challenges keep coming. I have gotten to learn more and seen the ministry from many angles. For example, I have worked on the social and health care reform as a technical secretary and after that, I got a fixed-term post in the ministerial end.

How well does the ministry take the reconciliation of work and free time into account?

- Well. Flexible working hours are good, because you don’t necessarily have to start at eight. You can also stay and work later. Agreeing on holidays has also been easy.

What kind of skills and personality traits are useful in your work?

- You absolutely have to be able to get along with people. You also have to be prepared to take on new tasks. If someone calls here and asks for advice, you have to be prepared to figure it out, even so far as to guide them to a person who knows more about it.

What is the best thing about your job?

- The fact that I have been able to experience so many different things. Working for the ministry in general is sort of a vantage point. You also get to network with so many experts and others working in the same sector. I also have to mention the upcoming electronic tables in our offices. Thanks to the new desk, I am sure I will do more standing and less sitting. The ministry’s location in Kruununhaka is also excellent. It’s a wonderful walk here every morning, surrounded by quaint old buildings.

N.B. The interview is from 2014. When the job rotation ended, Jenni returned to her position as secretary in the planning and development group.

Information

Name: Jenni Lahtinen
Job: Department Secretary for the Minister of Social Affairs and Health
Education: BBA HSO, degree in business administration: administrative assistance and languages
Duration of service at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health: Started 7 Nov 2011
Prior experience: Helsingin seurakuntayhtymä, Prime Minister’s Office Communications Unit (internship through the university of applied sciences) and summer jobs including the Malmi cemetery office and Citymarket