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ISYY’s Hobby Buddy service matches students together

The Hobby Buddy service, which was launched in the autumn of 2021 as an activity in the BRIDGES project of the University of Eastern Finland and the Student Union, is a service that has been clearly needed by students. During the autumn 102 students registered for the service and we suggested at least one hobby buddy to almost all those who have registered.

The service is intended for all students of the University of Eastern Finland who want to make new friends through common hobbies and interests. You can register to the service by filling in the application form, after that the BRIDGES project coordinator will search for a suitable match among the other people who have filled in the application form.

– The operating principle could be compared to the primitive Tinder; the applications arrive to me as students fill in the application form found on the ISYY’s websites. I read the applications and search for similarities in them. When compatible applications are found, I will inform the buddies by email that there is a match and I will share their contact information with each other so that they can make an appointment, says the BRIDGES project coordinator Riina Pääkkönen.

The service is being developed by user feedback

At the end of the autumn of 2021, feedback was collected from students who had registered to the Hobby Buddy service. The feedback was mainly positive. Respondents praised the existence of the service, the ease of it and the fact that through the service you can really find a company for your hobbies.

However, the feedback also brought up the challenges of the service. It is in the hands of those who have been matched with each other as hobby buddies to contact each other, so it is possible that the contact has never taken place or the suggested buddy has not responded to the other's contact.

– The threshold for matches to start a discussion and arrange a meeting more smoothly should be lowered so that the goal of the service can be better achieved, Pääkkönen reflects.

Some changes have already been made to the service based on the feedback received. The biggest changes are related to the application itself.

– Some of the users suggested that the form should also indicate the age of the buddy requested and that a telephone number should be shared too, because everyone doesn’t read email often. All the suggestions were very good, and hopefully these changes will make use of the service easier.

The continuity of the service must be ensured

The number of people who have registered for the Hobby Buddy service and the feedback the service received, emphasize how important and necessary the service is for students and it will also be needed after the BRIDGES project is over.

In order to ensure the continuation of the service, there has been discussion about an automation of the service. The automation would also make matching hobby buddies together easier in future.

– The development work will continue, and its results will be seen at the end of the year, Riina Pääkkönen says.

The BRIDGES project, funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture for 2021-2022, includes operations which promote student wellbeing, strengthen students' attachment to the university community and prevent loneliness and exclusion.

Read more:

Isyy.fi/en, opens in a new window: The Hobby Buddy service

More info:

Riina Pääkkönen, the BRIDGES project coordinator, riina.paakkonen(at)isyy.fi, tel. +358 44 491 6529