The main benefit for me was expanding my professional network during the mentoring process. Even though we did not know the names and working positions of all the other mentors in the group, I felt that I could use their help too.
My goal was not to find a new job, but rather to sharpen my career
planning skills, enhance personal efficiency and learn more about
entrepreneurship in Finland. The mentoring process also helps in building one's confidence. When you have access to the expertise of successful busy people - it's a privilege! And I appreciated this.
My mentor also learned something from me, of course. We exchanged ideas and it was a positive experience for him, too. Other mentors also mentioned that they learned to understand their own culture better when they compared it to other cultures. There are many things people
take for granted here that are not reality in other countries. And the mentors also became aware of the challenges that international students and graduates face in Finland (e.g. the language, visa issues and other obstacles in finding a job).
The most important aspect for me was the example of personal efficiency and entrepreneurial skills that my mentor showed to me, and the potential access to his network of contacts. The Workplace Pirkanmaa project coordinator Ms. Kaisa Niiranen was of great help in my research and we will continue our collaboration.
Individual sessions worked well, and the facilitated group meetings were inspiring, but I wish we had spent more time doing group work to get to know each other better. It would also be nice to hear everyone's story of how the mentoring helped them (preferably published online).
It would be nice to have a mentoring programme running on a regular basis in many cities, as a good practice of linking HEIs, international students and the employers. The mentors could also benefit from getting to know each other and I am sure it was a rewarding process for them!
Yulia Shumilova is a PhD candidate, at the Higher Education Group, School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland. Her PhD thesis is related to the employability of international graduates in Finland. She graduated from the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Higher Education Programme in 2007 and has a six-year experience of administrating international education.