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)