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.


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.