From Mario Kart Champion to IoT Explorer: My Two-Week Internship at a Research Unit


At HAMK Smart Research Unit, Isabella, a talented 15-year-old intern, recently embarked on an extraordinary two-week journey as her work practice program (TET). Her experience provides an inside look at our work environment, where she explored her passions for design and tech, got to know a unique blend of researchers and developers, and discovered the joy of contributing to societal betterment.

My name is Isabella, and I was HAMK Smart’s TET intern for two weeks!
I’m 15 years old, I was born in Finland, but raised in England. I’ve lived in Finland for seven years now, and it still feels foreign somehow. My mother is Finnish-Swedish, so I grew up speaking English and Swedish.  

I chose HAMK Smart due to a multitude of reasons, like my passions for design and tech, comfortable chairs, and unlimited office coffee – would definitely recommend, was worth it!
The unit is directed towards development and the betterment of society, something I personally think the world could really use, but let’s not let my pessimism shine through on this.  

The environment is certainly unique in a sense, I’ve never been in an office that was this relaxed and friendly. I expected it to be a lot stricter and like a classroom in a sense? But I was pleasantly surprised with the humour and the vibes the office gave. I’ve laughed more here than I did when I watched my 60-year-old grandma request to watch Game of Thrones as a family.
There’s a few breaks during the day, everyone eats lunch together usually, it’s a nice change. 

My project was to “build something that would better society”. I’m 15, I have no clue what it was they expected from me here, my biggest accomplishment so far is being epic at Mario Kart like the icon I am.

Isabella and Arduino Kit
First day experiments

I did IoT research for the two weeks of my being here, not recommended, unless you have a degree or knowledge and aren’t 15, good luck. I was tasked to research the uses of IoT and create something using an Arduino kit. I’ll sum it up for you.
“I’m snookered.” Me on my first day within the first two hours at a piece of machinery. I said this a lot here, because it usually was. 
I discovered how much I enjoy building with the kit, and how much C++ is going to forever haunt my nightmares from here on out.
I would arrive here at 9-ish, grab some coffee, sit at my desk, start to work, get distracted, do literally anything but work, and then continue – you know, for maximum possible stress because why would I do this the easy way?

There was a lot of challenges, being dyslexic and writing code is a terrible combination. The amount of spelling mistakes I made caused a problem, a lot. But then I realized I have glasses and should use them. Spoiler alert: did not help in the slightest. I’m just dyslexic but faster.  

I worked closely with a fair few of the other workers, but I did a lot of the work independently, because why ask for help when I have Google and unlimited caffeine? But when I asked for help, I definitely got it, it’s HAMK Smart for a reason.
I think that this might be the best experience I’ve ever had in a work and learning environment. I’ve made amazing memories here that I’ll cherish for a lifetime. I think my favourite was on my first day during the midday break, the theoretical situational discussion on two of our workers dueling with the Desert Eagle pistols in a medieval English accent and fashion. 

Get this – Bella had never even heard of IoT before, but that didn’t stop her from being super stoked about learning all about it. And let me tell you, from the very first time I spoke with her, I knew she wasn’t your average 9th grader. She’s got this amazing energy about her – always cheerful, open, and ready to chat. And with that Finnish ’Sisu’ spirit, nothing can hold her back!                              Atte Partanen, Bella’s supervisor 

I think I’ve learnt that offices aren’t always dull and boring, with the right people, they’re an experience to be commemorated. The future isn’t something I can predict or tell, nobody can, but if my working life is anything like my two weeks here, I’ll be a very happy person. Most students my age wouldn’t probably think an office of all places would be a fun place to work, especially not at a university. Okay I really just chose to do an extra two weeks of school because I could. But I know its not a choice I will ever regret. 


Isabella Westman-Scotcher is a 9th grader from Svenska samskolan i Tammerfors. She spent her early childhood in Bury St Edmunds, England, where her father was stationed. She moved over to Finland in 2016 with her family. She has always had an interest in machinery and technology and one of her aspirations is to become an engineer. She’s a big sci-fi fan, and to relax she draws and paints.

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