Tiina Kokkonen

  • Born in Jyväskylä, Central Finland in 1982
  • Master of Arts in Translation Studies (Russian, German and Finnish), University of Tampere 2002–2008; studies at Moscow State Linguistic University in Russia and at Leipzig University in Germany
  • Educational programme in Russian commerce, the Summer University of Tampere, 2013
  • Vocational qualification in entrepreneurship, Tampere Adult Education Centre, 2016
  • Vocational qualification for community interpreters, Tampere Adult Education Centre (ongoing)

I’ve always been fascinated by foreign languages and cultures. As a child, I used speak made-up languages with my sister, and we’d pretend we were foreigners from different cultures. Although I encountered an obstacle at age 10, when I wasn’t allowed to take German classes due to being too young, this didn’t put a dampener on my enthusiasm for languages. In fact, it made me even more determined. Soon I was taking both German and Russian classes at a local adult education centre, at the age of just 14, much younger than my fellow students.

My profession and career path have been crystal clear to me since early childhood: I knew I wanted to be a translator and an interpreter. I was enthralled by the thought of mastering a truly foreign language that very few around me would understand, which is why I ended up choosing to study Russian and German. To me, Russian has an amazing musical sound to it, like birdsong, while German is punctuated by an attractive rhythm and a hissing tone. When applying to university, however, I had to choose between German and Russian. My intuition led me to opt for Russian, but I was also able to continue doing extensive German studies as a minor subject.

My faith in the language profession was put to the test several times during my studies. Studying languages proved arduous and demanding, and the future career prospects explained to the young students were often far from encouraging and optimistic. Still, nothing deterred me from completing my degree in languages. In addition to enhancing my foreign languages, my academic studies also gave me even more appreciation for my mother tongue – Finnish is and always will be my most important working language.

Mastering the Russian language has opened up a whole new world for me. The language gives me intimate access to a unique, rich culture filled with history. And what’s even better is that it’s also given me the opportunity to meet and get to know many wonderful Russian people! I have come to understand what it means to have a great Russian soul.

Something I have always devoted a lot of effort to is taking my Russian to a higher professional level. So far, each individual challenge has been followed by a great feeling of accomplishment. My passion for Russian continues to grow, and I am still amazed and enchanted by the language’s endless potential for expressing things in subtly different ways.

I am a keen advocate of lifelong learning. My childhood determination to become a professional translator and interpreter still drives me today. I have a Master of Arts degree from the University of Tampere with a major in Russian Translation Studies. In 2013, I studied Russian commerce at the Summer University of Tampere, and in 2016, I completed a vocational qualification in entrepreneurship. Currently, I am studying towards a vocational qualification for community interpreters. The studies will conclude with skills testing in autumn 2017. I actively maintain my language and cultural skills by reading Russian literature and news and by using Russian in social settings. I also visit Russia frequently.

My main professional language is Russian, and I provide translations and interpreting from Finnish into Russian and vice versa. Compared to Russian, the German language plays a smaller role in my everyday life and work. However, my passion for German has continued on from my studies to my professional career as well, so I maintain German as another professional language, providing translations from German into Finnish. I also continue to develop my German skills during my leisure time and through my daughter’s German-speaking school. Germany is still one of my favourite countries to visit as well!

Besides working as a translator and interpreter, my professional work experience has included working as a project manager for a translation agency and working as an executive assistant for a consulting firm specialising in Russian trade. Tolkoma is my own translation and interpreting company that I founded in August 2016. Having my own company allows me to pursue my professional goals and to provide a high-quality service for my valued clients.