The multidisciplinary mentoring programme of the University of Turku supports the students' transition to working life as well as their professional development. The mentors are University of Turku alumni and other volunteers who want to share their work life experience and views and professional networks with recent graduates.
On Wednesday, 14 June 2023, the Piccu Maccia restaurant was filled with a buzz of conversation. Volunteer mentors and students entering the working life gathered to celebrate a successful mentoring programme. The mentoring programme for students was now organised for the 21st time and, for the first time, both in Finnish and in English. This year, a total of 75 students and their mentors participated in the programme. In the mentoring program, the mentoring pairs meet one or two times a month to discuss issues connected to working life, career and skills that are in their field. An experienced expert, a mentor, shares experiences with a student, i.e. a mentee, who is about to graduate.
Shared Journey from the Unknown to the Familiar
The closing event featured speeches from both mentors and mentees. One of the programme's mentors, Minna Ylikännö, Senior Specialist in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, compared her mentoring experience to Clare Pooley's book Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting. The book is about people who take the same train route every day without really knowing each other. However, a surprising coincidence unites the passengers and they begin to talk to each other on the train. A somewhat similar experience could be said to take place in a mentoring programme as well. At the beginning of the program, the mentee is a completely unknown person to the mentor but the shared six-month journey in the mentoring programme has led to a friendship with a new person. Ylikäntö hopes to keep in touch with the mentee even after the programme has finished.
International student and mentee Henry Ascencio discussed how his mentor Sami was able to give him new perspectives as he moved from studies towards working life. Another mentee, digital culture student Jenni Jäntti, told that the mentoring programme had gone in a flash. Jäntti described that she had no idea how many new career-related perspectives and thoughts the programme can provide.
New Insights for both Mentees and Mentors
Development Specialist Susanna Ahteensuu, who coordinates the mentoring programme, says that it is rewarding to see the entire arc of the programme from uncertainty in the beginning to great new insights.
“Many mentors may initially feel uncertain about what they have to offer to students and, on the other hand, students do not quite know what to expect from the programme,” Ahteensuu explains.
During the programme, uncertainties take a back seat. Both mentors and mentees usually find the programme rewarding. Mentors tell that they have been able to help the students in first steps of their career. Students, on the other hand, find that discussions with a mentor help to dispel concerns about the future.
“Through career and work-related discussions, mentors also have a chance to explore their own career path. Many people get so excited about mentoring that they also take part in the following year's programme,” Ahteensuu says.
If you want to support the Master’s degree students of the University of Turku, you can sign up for the mentor pool, which is used to find mentors. The next search for mentors takes place in the autumn of 2023. The next mentoring programme will be organised in January-June 2024.