The interim meeting of the group mentoring programme held in late February brought together mentors to share their experiences of the programme launched in November. For most mentoring groups, February and March denote the midpoint of their collaborative journey, a fitting time for sharing well-functioning practices with others.
Like the sessions in November, the interim meeting was held via Zoom, with mentors from around Finland and the world attending. Before the actual group discussions, the mentors had the chance to hear about matters related to career planning and job seeking at the University. Anna Storgårds from Career Services described the current and future support measures related to career planning at the University, as well as developments in the field.
“At Career Services, we are adopting a new theoretical framework in which career skills are analysed through five different types of capital acquired during studies. This capital relates to, among other things, networking, getting to know parties active in the field, understanding the cultural codes of different organisations and career planning. In all this, mentoring holds a key role,” Storgårds said.
Varied experiences of group dynamics and remote connections
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, remote connections have been used for all meetings. Some have adapted to this well, as scheduling has been easier. However, some mentors who had contributed to the programme earlier felt that group dynamics were not necessarily as close-knit as in face-to-face meetings.
Experiences of good practices were also shared in the discussions, with some mentors describing how their actors had assumed an active role in organising meetings. The Workbook for mentoring had also been helpful in planning meetings and allocating questions from the actors under specific themes for individual sessions.
“While the students in my group are in fairly different stages of their lives, all of them are approaching the transition to the labour market in one way or another,” one mentor commented.
Important observations were also made on the role of the mentor in the process as a whole. Mentoring is a process based on volunteering, where the mentor can share their personal knowledge and experience.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the mentor is not expected to serve as a therapist, a supervisor of studies or an employment agent. Mentoring as a process should be reciprocal so that the mentor can, for example, listen and share their knowledge and experience. The role can vary and be shaped by the group dynamics,” someone pointed out in the meeting.
In conjunction with this term, the coordinating team of the mentoring programme intends to collect feedback, especially on the pros and cons of remote arrangements and meetings.
“This is a new situation for everyone, so it’s important to collect valuable lessons gained this year to further develop the mentoring programme for subsequent terms. Feedback and questions can of course be sent to the coordinating team any time already before the term ends,” notes Salla Wilén from Career Services.
The 10th group mentoring term will continue until May, at which time a joint wrap-up session will be held. Due to the prevailing coronavirus situation, the rest of the term will continue to be held online.
Other Career Services content and services in support of job seeking and career planning for students and recent graduates have been compiled under the Traineeships and Work and career sections on the Instructions for Students website.
Mentors and actors can reach out to the coordinating team any time during the mentoring term by writing to careerservices(at)helsinki.fi.