Thirteenth season crossed the finish line

The Closing Event of the Group mentoring programme offered groups the opportunity to gather once more. During the evening, participants were encouraged to crystallize their most important learnings and insights from the six-month journey.

Inspirational, exciting, educational, encouraging. These four words stood out prominently in the large word cloud when actors and mentors described their experiences at the Group mentoring programme’s closing evening in May.

Groups that were greeting each other cautiously in November, now chose a table for themselves in the lecture hall casually and without hesitation. Strangers had become more familiar to each other, and some perhaps even friends.

Yleiskuva luentosalista ja osallistujista seuraamassa puheenvuoroa.
The relaxed yet festive Closing Event is an important part of the programme and the groups’ shared journey. During the evening, everyone also received a diploma for their participation.

Changes in everyday student life surprised the mentor

In the early part of the English-speaking event, experiences were shared by mentor Akseli Huhtanen, who participated in the program for the first time. After eight years in the working life, his primary motivation for becoming a mentor was to reconnect with the university community.

Huhtanen summarizes that mentoring was an educational experience. The biggest surprise was how astonishingly much student life had changed since his own student days. Many of the changes discussed in the group were related to the upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic really hit hard on current students’ studies and student life: it changed the operations of student organizations, other student activities, and of course, teaching with the introduction of remote teaching. The differences to the past are so significant that I sometimes found it a bit difficult to relate to the actors’ experiences – and they to mine. Yet, all of this was very interesting,” he explained.

From his mentoring experience, Huhtanen takes away above all the realization of how valuable it is to create connections with people in different life situations and with different backgrounds.

“Our group was diverse in backgrounds, as nearly all actors are studying in different faculties. This enriched our discussions and also created space for reflection and thought-provoking moments that I had not anticipated.”

Individual photo of mentor Aleksi Huhtanen
Akseli Huhtanen, an alumni of the Faculty of Social Sciences, had the opportunity to share his work life experiences as a mentor. Working with the student group also provided him with new perspectives.

Valuable peer support and lifelike conversations

After the joint part of the event, a satisfied-looking trio of students sat with Huhtanen. At the beginning of the season, the group chose themes such as the concreteness of expert work, ways to find a personal direction, articulating one’s skills, and the fears and hopes related to working. These were delved into in monthly face-to-face meetings.

“The best parts have been peer support, sharing thoughts, and meeting other students, because I have studied a lot by myself during the remote period,” Sonja Nyblin explains.

Henrik Hynninen completed a traineeship included in his degree during the programme.

“That and the mentoring process strengthened my feeling of my own skills and that I am doing the right things,” Hynninen states.

The group’s discussions were given a new twist when Huhtanen’s work contract ended unexpectedly in the spring. As usual, the group discussed this very openly, as part of life.

“If something similar happens to us, then we know that, hey: Akseli also got through it,” Nyblin says warmly.

Clear directions, or maybe not

Mentor Anne Rahikka‘s group also met face-to-face throughout the mentoring season. According to them, the exercises in the Workbook for Mentoring (pdf) provided a good basis for joint discussions, which focused on topics such as well-being and stress management, as well as skills and job search issues.

For Ellinoora Ekman, who is working on her doctoral thesis, the mentoring brought clarity about direction.

“Mentoring strengthened the idea that research work could be what I would like to do in the future,” she sums up.

Saara Hannula, who transitioned from working life to master’s studies, expected that her seemingly clear plans would become even clearer. Instead, the opposite happened.

“This actually broadened my options, and that’s very good. My thoughts have expanded, and I got a peaceful feeling that I do not need a super clear plan,” she explains.

Like Hannula, Vilma Turunen, who is studying for her master’s degree, describes mentoring as an interesting journey and a great opportunity to address important themes.

“It was also important to realize that others are grappling with the same uncertainties. That I am not alone.”

Anne Rahikka, Saara Hannula, Vilma Turunen, and Ellinoora Ekman sitting on the stairs of the lecture hall.
Saara Hannula (on the left), Vilma Turunen, Anne Rahikka, and Ellinoora Ekman, satisfied with their shared journey, emphasize the importance of managing expectations. “Don’t expect to get ready-made answers from mentoring. No one can make decisions for someone else,” they remind.

Both groups also included a fourth student actor who was not present at the time of the interview.

A big thank you to all the mentors and actors who participated in the programme this season. The programme will continue in the 2024–2025 academic year with a revised schedule. More information will be available at the beginning of autumn, so stay tuned for updates!

Text and photos: Johanna Ruhanen

Kick-off evening provided insights into successful mentoring – “I would really have needed this during my own study days”, mentor says now

The eagerly awaited new mentoring season of 2023–2024 kicked off at the end of November at the Viikki campus. Read about the first impressions and initial plans of the groups!

“How are you feeling right now on a dog scale?” This surprising opening question sparked hilarity and helped the groups to start getting to know each other.









Images of nine different dogs with various facial expressions appear on the lecture hall screens, and the slightly tense atmosphere quickly melts into smiles and laughter. The idea behind this humorous warm-up activity is to provide participants with a relaxed way to share their initial feelings.

– You can continue to use exercises like these in your future group meetings, because you always come to them from slightly different situations, hints career counsellor Salla Wilén from the university’s Career Services, who is hosting the evening. 

On-site in Viikki there is the majority of the season’s 31 mentors and 119 actors, accompanied by a small number of remote participants. As it is the first meeting of the programme, Wilén goes through the most important common aspects: schedules, cornerstones for good group interaction, and the support materials available to the groups. Most of the evening is, however, reserved for the group members to get to know each other – a much anticipated part of the kick-off.

Exploration and listening to intuition

Actors Kyösti Männistö (right) and Roosa Näsi and mentor Tapani Järveläinen believe they will have plenty of interesting discussions during the six-month mentoring process.










As the evening draws to its end, a three-person group at the top of the hall begins to depart. Mentor Tapani Järveläinen explains that the third actor had to cancel at the last minute but will join the group in their next meeting. 

Järveläinen, who works as a leading IT expert and internal coach in his workplace, is participating in the programme for the third time. He describes mentoring as an explorative journey, also for himself. 

– It’s always a bit exciting in a positive way, he adds. 

Roosa Näsi, a soon graduating anthropology student, describes her initial feelings as anticipatory. 

– The programme came at the right time for me. I chose my mentor intuitively, and it seems to have been the right pick, as we have similar interests and many opportunities for interesting discussions and genuine growth, Näsi summarises. 

Kyösti Männistö, a computer science student pursuing a second degree, agrees.

– I’m sure it will be a good set. 

For their next meetings, the group has chosen the themes of self-leadership and job search strategies. Their plan is to delve into the Workbook for Mentoring and set more specific goals in the next meeting when the the whole group is present. 

Four group members, four nationalities

Laughter has been abundant all evening in the English-speaking group sitting in the middle of the hall. 

– Working together was immediately easy. It just flowed, says a delighted Cèlia Pla Farriol, who is a student in the international Global Governance Law master’s programme. 

Kaan Daibasoglu, a data science student, agrees. His exchange year in Helsinki is almost halfway through, and one of his goals for the second half is to meet as many people from around the world as possible. The programme offers a great opportunity for that, as their own group already covers four different nationalities. 

Mentor Sangita Seshadri says that hearing the actors’ stories has made her feel nostalgic. She graduated from the master’s program in theoretical and computational methods a few years ago, and her own study experiences are still fresh in her memory. Seshadri admits to being surprised that the group mentoring programme is now in its 13th season.

– I would really have needed this during my own study days, but back then, I didn’t know about the opportunity. Now I heard about it from the alumni newsletter, but maybe I should have read the messages more carefully when I was a student too, she laughs in hindsight. 

When the group meets again, the topics will be survival tips and mental well-being. The choice of topic arises from the current season: two of the group members are facing the Finnish winter for the first time in their lives. 

At the time of publishing this blog post, it is safe to say that in the frosty weather of the turn of the year and January, any tips have undoubtedly been worth their weight in gold.

Text and photos: Johanna Ruhanen

Jutussa haastateltu nelihenkinen Sangita Seshadrin mentorointiryhmä istuu Viikin Oppimistorin keskellä pöydän ääressä juttelemassa.
Mentor Sangita Seshadri’s (in the foreground, on the right) group quickly found a common tune. “It was great to find a mentor who is so easy to relate to,” says Manuchehr Shamsiddinov, an economics student sitting in the foreground, on the left. Next to Shamsiddinov is Cèlia Pla Farriol and next to Seshadri on the right is Kaan Daibasoglu.

Application period 2023–2024 has ended

The application period for the group mentoring programme’s season 2023–2024 is now closed. All applicants will receive an email from the Careers Services between 23 and 27 October 2023 with further information on the group allocation. Thank you to all who applied for the programme!

More information: careerservices(at)

The application period for students extended – apply by 16th October at 12 pm!

The application period for the University of Helsinki Group mentoring programme 2023–2024 has been extended until Monday 16th of October 2023 at 12.00 noon. There are still available slots in several mentoring groups, so check out the mentor profiles now and apply for the programme that will benefit you for a long time to come!

There are several English-speaking groups available, and some groups operate completely remotely. Please note that the mentoring groups are multidisciplinary. Therefore, you can choose the mentor that you feel is the best match for you, whatever your field of study.

The programme starts in November and runs for six months until May 2024. During this period, the groups will meet approximately once a month. Read more about group mentoring here.

The groups are filled in order of registration, so send your application today:

  1. Check out the mentors on the mentors’ introduction page.
  2. See the application instructions and apply!

More information:

The application period for students is now open!

The application period for the Group mentoring programme 2023-2024 has now started and will close on 6th October 2023 at 12.00 pm.

Check out the application instructions, the introductions of our 46 alumni mentors and a short pre-assignment on the Apply for the programme page. Groups will be filled in order of registration, so act fast!

What have the previous participants learned during the programme?

“Mentoring strengthened my career-related confidence and gave me perspective that others are going through similar things and I am not alone with my thoughts.”

“I feel more confident to talk openly about my insecurities, career plans and situations. I learned more about job search on a practical level and received personalised feedback e.g. on my CV.”

“To boldly seek very different paths instead of a particular one.”

Read more and apply now!

Apply to the Group mentoring programme 2023–2024 – application period starts on 25th September!

The UH Group mentoring programme’s application period for students starts on Monday 25th September 2023 at 12.00 pm. Groups will be filled in order of registration, so check out the application instructions as well as mentor introductions and apply soon!

In the University of Helsinki Group mentoring programme 2023–2024 you have a unique chance to discuss, for example, different career paths, your personal strengths and questions related to job hunting during a six-month process. The special thing about group mentoring is that, in addition to the support of your mentor, you also get peer support from other students in your group.

This 13th season of our multidisciplinary programme, which will kick off in November, offers a choice of 46 amazing mentors (16 of them English-speaking), who are University of Helsinki alumni representing different fields in society. They share a background at the University of Helsinki as well as a genuine motivation to share their knowledge with our students.

There are both Finnish- and English-language groups available, and some groups operate completely remotely. Mentoring groups are multidisciplinary, so you can choose the mentor that you feel is the best match for you, whatever your field of study.

The programme is a great opportunity to reflect on your career-related aspirations and get support from an UH alumni. Check out the application instructions, mentor introductions and a short pre-assignment on the Apply for the programme page now and apply when the application period is on!

The doors will close on 6th October 2023 at 12.00 pm, but please remember that groups are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

The programme is organised by UH Career Services together with Helsinki Alumni -network. More information: careerservices (at)

The call for mentors for the season 2023–2024 is now open!

Nelihenkinen mentorointiryhmä keskustelemassa pöydän ääressä. Pöydällä jokaisen edessä on paperinen osallistumisdiplomi.

The University of Helsinki group mentoring programme 2023–2024 will start in November, and we are now looking for mentors for our students. The programme is now running for the 13th time and the application period for mentors is open until 17th September.

Students need support from alumni of their own fields. As a mentor, you have a great opportunity to provide this support in the students’ path towards graduation and working life. And for sure, you will learn something new yourself!

Many of our mentors have found the experience so rewarding that they have participated in the programme more than once.

What is the programme all about?

For you as a mentor, group mentoring means sharing your own skills and life experience with a group of 2–4 students at different stages of their studies. Most of the groups are interdisciplinary and the language of the group can be Finnish, Swedish or English. This season, we hope to attract even more doctoral researchers (PhD students) as actors. In choosing mentors for the programme, we prioritise alumni who are currently in working life.

The group mentoring programme 2023–2024 will be launched with a kick-off meeting in Viikki Campus on Tuesday 21th November 2023 starting at 5 pm. For the mentors selected for the programme, we will organise a Q&A session on Zoom on Wednesday 15th November 2023 at 5–6 pm. The closing event will take place in May 2024.

Between the kick-off meeting and closing event the mentoring groups will meet independently approximately once a month. If you want to mentor your group entirely remotely (online), please indicate this already on the application form.

Are you interested? Great! Apply to the programme as a mentor with this Lyyti form as soon as possible and on 17th September 2023 at the latest! 

We will contact all mentor applicants by the end of September.

For more information on applying to become a mentor, please contact Career counsellor Salla Wilén, salla.wilen(at) or Liaison manager Marja Peltomäki, marja.peltomaki(at)



Group mentoring brings students and alumni together again: “There’s more to come!”

The participating groups’ friendship books indicate that the six-month mentoring journey provided excellent resources for the future. Read more about the groups’ experiences and take a look at photos from the programme.

When the latest term of the University of Helsinki’s group mentoring programme – the twelfth of its kind – concluded at the end of May, the mood was both joyous because of the successes and melancholic. The group of participants in the programme was wonderful this time too: a total of roughly 100 student actors (mentees) and 28 mentors, most of the latter of whom alumni of the University of Helsinki.

As per convention, the University’s Career Services unit and the Helsinki Alumni community coordinating the University’s alumni activities were responsible for the programme arrangements.

Finally meeting face to face

After terms implemented partly or entirely online, joint meetings were finally organised on site at the University. The kick-off for the programme in November and the final meeting in May were held for the first time on Viikki Campus, where the redesigned Oppimistori (‘Learning Plaza’) at Info Centre Korona proved to be a suitable venue.

“This term was particularly memorable for the joy of meeting face to face and seeing groups in discussion. It’s also worth noting that in the autumn during the application period for students, English-language groups were the first to be filled,” says Salla Wilén from Career Services.

However, some groups also convened entirely online this term too. Independence from physical location provided – and will probably continue to do so – broader participation opportunities for both mentors and actors.

Lessons learned compiled into friendship books

One of the new initiatives this time around was a dedicate friendship book, in which groups were presented with traditional incomplete sentences to complete. At the final meeting, the completed pages were placed on the wall for everyone to admire.

What emerges from the responses is that the shared six-month period not only boosted knowledge, skills and understanding, but also meaningful human relationships – even friendships. More than one group signalled their plans for a follow-up meeting next autumn.

“There’s more to come,” came a cheerful exclamation from one of the groups as people dispersed from the final session.

What kind of goals did the groups have at the beginning of the term, and how were they achieved in six months? Read the responses and greetings sent to future participants in the friendship book below the photo montage.

Kornelia Kuc giving her presentation at the kick-off event.
Kornelia Kuc, an actor in the term 2021–2022, shared her experiences and top tips at the kick-off event held in November.
Heini Hult-Miekkavaara giving her presentation at the kick-off event.
Career Counsellor Heini Hult-Miekkavaara spoke about how to take sustainability into consideration in personal career choices.
A four-member group in discussion at the table and drawing up a joint mentoring agreement.
After the joint introduction, the participants had the chance to mingle among their groups and agree on their goals and rules.
Mentors discussing at the speed dating–like discussion on mentoring.
In February, mentors convened at the midpoint of the programme to exchange news and network through speed dating–like discussion on mentoring.
Heini Hult-Miekkavaara interviewing mentors Paula Aaltonen and Gergana Gateva in front of the audience.
In the closing event held in May, mentors Paula Aaltonen (middle) and Gergana Gateva (right) summed up their journey and encouraged students to become mentors in the future. “If you have even a little inclination for mentoring, go for it! We mentors are ordinary people,” Aaltonen pointed out. Heini Hult-Miekkavaara from Career Services conducted the interview.
Participants in the mentoring programme responding to the statement ‘We did an exercise from the Workbook for mentoring’ displayed on the screen. Several hands are raised, indicating affirmative responses.
As the mentoring journey of each group and participant is always unique, unifying experiences were explored through a round of bingo.
A four-member group in discussion at the table and smiling. Each person has a printed participation diploma in front of them.
There was plenty of time reserved for the groups’ final discussion. All participants received a diploma for their involvement, enabling them to demonstrate their activity as learners even after the programme.
Four smiling members of a mentoring group at the table giving each other feedback under the theme Siivet selkään (‘Growing wings’).
The last task of the groups was the emotional Siivet selkään (‘Growing wings’) exercise. In turn, each participant had the opportunity to explain why the wings of the group members will definitely continue to carry them forward.

Extracts from the mentoring groups’ friendship books

In November, our shared goal was to…

  • “Increase our skills in job seeking and (self-)confidence as experts. We also wanted to learn from the extensive experience of our mentor and hear about various career opportunities.”
  • “Network, identify and highlight our personal competencies, update our CVs and go on excursions.”
  • “Identify paths to professional life, increase professional self-esteem, communication skills and networking skills, describe competencies.”
  • “Become adept in describing your competencies and rethink professional life, as well as increase self-awareness.”

Now, in May, we can say that…

  • “We’ve had a good group where we got to hear different viewpoints and where others were able to ask questions I wouldn’t have come up with.”
  • “We will find our paths eventually, and we’ve formed a really good group.”
  • “Mentoring has been a tangible help.”
  • “The journey has been rewarding and goals have been achieved. We’ve learned to ask questions.”
  • “Everyone found some direction for their future.”

The best part of our joint journey was…

  • “Peer support, the sparring provided by group members when drawing up job applications, and joint discussions. The group has empowered its members, making expectations of mentoring increasingly positive.”
  • “Getting to know and learning from one another.”
  • “Understanding the concrete nature of career options and the functioning of the university sphere.”
  • “Being able to be ourselves, dealing with difficult issues in a safe environment.”
  • “Receiving peer support and normalising career concerns. Openness: it was easy to share ideas. Eliminating fear and shame from job seeking.”
  • “Sharing ideas and gaining new perspectives.”

To other programme participants, we wish to say that…

  • “You should take part and actively contribute to the planning of goals and topics to get the most out of mentoring. It’s not necessary, and perhaps not always advisable, to bind yourself strictly to a single career path. Instead, meaningful careers can often be found even in unexpected places.”
  • “The situation between graduation and entering professional life is only one stage in life. In the end, everything will be fine!”
  • “The groups provide you with strength and help in everyday challenges.”
  • “If you are considering the direction of your career path or looking for advice for job seeking, networking or entrepreneurship, group mentoring may be a good option for you.”
  • “You will find your path even if you can’t see it clearly right now. Approach difficult experiences head-on with a positive mind. Don’t avoid complicated emotions.”
  • “In the mentoring group, we learned that good is enough.”
  • “Create a safe space for sharing things in a confidential atmosphere. Follow the Workbook for mentoring; it contains appropriate tools.”

The next term will begin in November 2023 – Join us!

The new term of the group mentoring programme will be launched in November 2023, and we are once again looking for University of Helsinki alumni as mentors. Further details on mentor recruitment for the upcoming term will be published in Helsinki Alumni channels, but you can already express your interest in serving as a mentor by emailing Liaison Manager Marja Peltomäki at marja.peltomaki(at) The official application form will become available in August.

Students will have the opportunity to apply to mentoring groups in autumn 2023. Follow our communications in this blog and the Studies Service.

Students can obtain further information on group mentoring from Career Services: careerservices(at)

Application is for 2022-2023 is closed

The application period for the group mentoring of season 2022 – 2023 has closed. If you applied you will receive an email about your group from the career services by the 28th of October. Thank you to all who applied for the programme!

More information:

We’ve extended the application period for group mentoring until 17th of October!

Please note: because of a technical error that occurred during the weekend the application form for students is open until 17.10. at 23:59. If you didn’t manage to sign up during the weekend you can do it today!

Ryhmämentorointiryhmä tiedekulmassa

The application period for group mentoring programme has been extended until 16th of October 2022. We’ve switched one of the groups to English (Henrik Wolff) and there is also still room in the Finnish speaking and the Swedish speaking groups. The groups will be filled in order of registration.

Read more about the mentors and read the application instructions & sign up!

In group mentoring you as a student will get the opportunity to discuss different career paths and their strengths related to job hunting. The group brings added value, as students receive the support not only of their mentors, but also peers in the same situation.

Read more about group mentoring.

The programme is organised by UH Career services together with Helsinki Alumni -network.
More information: