Mentoring at the University of Turku

The mentoring programmes of the University of Turku support students' transition to working life and the professional development and career planning of researchers and other staff.

The University of Turku's mentoring activities are diverse

The University of Turku has 3 mentoring programs:

  • mentoring programme for master's students in the graduation phase, 
  • mentoring programme for early-career researchers and 
  • mentoring programme for staff

Mentoring programmes feature the mentoring pairs' own independent meetings, where the pair deals with themes related to working life and working life readiness in their own field. Working is supported by joint seminars and a mentoring guide.

Mentoring maintains interaction between the university and the surrounding society. The mentoring programme also serves as a channel for the development of the university. We receive feedback from the mentors and actors participating in the program about the training we provide, as well as information about the needs and expectations of employees and their training right now.

Mentoring programmes for students and early-career researchers start every year at the beginning of the year and their mentoring pairs are always combined in November-December of the previous year. There is a continuous application for the staff mentoring programme throughout the year and it can be started as soon as a mentoring pair has been found.

Mentoring Glossary


Learn more about mentoring

Here is how mentoring proceeds

The phases of mentoring

Those wishing to become mentors can enroll all year round. For mentees, the application period to the programme takes place from September–October. The pairs are matched up in October–December and participants will be informed about their partner and joint seminar dates in November–December.

The programme launches in January when an introductory seminar and a pair’s first meeting is organized for both the mentors and the mentees. The pairs will receive a mentoring guide for support.

In the early stage, the mentor and the mentee get to know each other and agree on ground rules as well as create a plan for their work. It is necessary to discuss and set goals for mentoring and both parties involved already in the beginning.

During the year, mentoring pairs independently make appointments with one another in which they discuss the themes and topics they have agreed on together.

At the end of the mentoring year, the results of the year are put together. The official part of the mentoring programme ends in October–November but the mentoring pair may naturally keep on meeting outside the programme if they wish.

The phases of a mentoring year contain at least 3 seminars for all the participants: 

  • Opening seminar and the first meeting in January
  • Mid-programme seminar with a theme or networking meetings in May–June
  • Closing seminar in October–November

In addition to these, possible themed seminars can be organized according to the participants’ wishes.

Mentoring programme for staff can be applied throughout the year and mentoring pairs appointments begin as soon as a suitable pair is found. The pairs will receive a mentoring guide for support in advance, and the programme consists of bilateral meetings of the mentoring pair. The mentoring programme for staff may also include joint meetings to which all those currently involved in the program are invited.

Mentoring pair meetings

In between the joint seminars, mentoring pairs meet regularly.

To get the most out of mentoring, we recommend the pairs meet at least five times. On average, mentoring pairs meet 6–8 times. The pair agrees on their meeting schedule independently. It is worth setting the dates and times well in advance, even during the first meeting.

The arranged meetings are worth holding on to, as frequent cancellations may decrease the motivation to maintain the mentoring relationship. Mentoring is based on mutual interaction backed by reciprocal openness, trust, and commitment.

Mentoring pairs can shape their meeting and working habits and methods as well as pick the most suitable location for their meetings. Basing discussion over certain themes at each meeting has been found to be a useful practice.

It is also beneficial to reserve a long enough time for a meeting, e.g. between an hour and a half and two hours. Typical locations for meetings include the mentor’s workplace, a coffee house, and the common rooms of the university but possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Our mentoring pairs have also, among other things, visited other businesses in their respective fields. One pair combined a mentoring meeting with a fishing trip.

What is expected of a mentor?

Mentoring is a voluntary activity in which experts in working life share their experiences and support the mentee in thinking about the questions about working life and professional development.

A mentor has

  • been in working life for at least 5 years.
  • interest in sharing their experience, expertise, and networks with a soon-to-graduate student, researcher, or a university employee.

As a mentor you

  • encourage and instruct the mentee as they move on to working life, think about the future, or develop their skills in their current job.
  • develop your own communication, instructor, and supervision skills.
  • share your expertise and working life experiences.
  • support the mentee in creating their own professional networks.
  • ask questions and give your mentee pair room for independent reflection and processing.
  • give constructive feedback and present your own views.
  • are interested in learning more yourself.

As a mentor, you don’t have to

  • know the answer to all questions, i.e. the student can get career and study counselling and other support services from the university.
  • offer the mentee a job or an internship.
  • live in the Turku area. Mentees travel to meet their mentor if necessary. In addition to local mentors, we also especially need mentors who operate in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

As a mentor, you’ll get

  • a person to talk to about issues related to work and working life.
  • a clearer picture of your own work and expertise.
  • a boost to work motivation.
  • a lift of spirits by supporting another person.
  • new information and a fresh perspective on your job.
  • new networks.
  • new communication and supervisory skills.
  • a good connection to your home university.
  • an idea of newly graduated students’ or researchers’ abilities or work at the university.

How time-consuming is mentoring?

Each mentoring pair plans their own meeting schedule independently.

In our experience:

  • Mentoring pairs meet 5–8 times in total during the mentoring programme.
  • The duration of a meeting is typically ca. 1½ hrs.
  • A portion of the meetings can be replaced by e.g. phone or Skype calls.

The mentoring programme for students contains 2–3 seminars for all participants that take 1½–2 hrs each.

  • Opening seminar in January
  • Themed Mid-programme seminar or networking meetings in spring
  • Closing seminar in June
Ground rules for mentoring

Ground rules are one of the most important things a mentoring pair should agree on in the initial stages of mentoring.

With ground rules set, both parties will be able to know what the other one expects of them and how to go about different situations.

Both are also aware of their own responsibilities, obligations, and tasks in the process.

At least agree on the following:

  • Meetings: How frequent are the meetings? For how long at a time? Location?
  • Topics: Are the topics of the meetings agreed on in advance or will the mentee let the mentor know about the day’s topic before each meeting?
  • Communication: How is the communication between the mentee and the mentor handled between the meetings?
  • Roles: The roles and responsibilities of both parties in the mentoring relationship
The benefits of mentoring

The main goal of mentoring at the University of Turku is the endorsement of student employment, and the professional development and career planning of researchers and other staff. Based on the feedback, mentoring has many benefits for those who participate in it. Listed below are examples of what kind of things everyone can get out of mentoring, for example.

Benefits for actors:

  • Growing/cultivating self-confidence 
  • Developing professional identity 
  • Expanding employment opportunities 
  • Building work life networks 
  • Smoothing the job search process

Benefits for mentors:

  • (informed) reflection on one's own career and choices 
  • Updating one's professional expertise and skills 
  • New perspectives Development of leadership skills 
  • Recognition of one's work and achievements

General benefits:

  • Developing and improving work culture 
  • Expanding connections and increasing openness

Read studies about mentoring at the University of Turku (in Finnish): 

Mentoreiden kokemuksia ammatillisesta kasvusta (Clarissa Lammisen kandidaatin tutkielma)

Mentorointi työllistymisen tukena (Veera Ruskomaan pro gradu -tutkielma)