International mentoring – practical questions and cultural differences6.5.2019
”Thank you for being my friend!” A card mentee Jia Wang gave his mentor Janne Järvinen illustrates what’s been crucial for them in the International Talents’ mentoring programme. Advice, information and encouragement have been shared between the mentor and mentee, but above all Jia and Janne have become trusted friends.
Janne Järvinen, a Finnish electrical engineer, works as Head Of Development at Winco Oy and has a lot going on at the moment. His main reason to find the time to become a mentor: helping others makes him happy.
– Also, I’ve participated in another sort of mentoring programme myself, as a mentee, and it was a nice experience. To become a mentor, you need an open mind and willingness to share your experience, Janne says.
Jia Wang is a Chinese student doing her Master’s degree (Electrical Engineering, Smart Grids) in the new Tampere university. She applied for the mentoring programme in order to build some professional networks in Finland and get useful advice on the local job market.
– I would like to stay in Finland longer and work here. The mentoring programme is a good way to get to know a person you can ask anything you want about things related to work in Finland, Jia explains.
The practical issues
The mentoring programme is for international talents, especially degree students, and experienced professionals in Tampere. To be able to acquire a job in Finland, an international talent often needs information on very basic sort of questions: how does one find suitable companies and approach them, what is expected in a job interview, what are the unwritten rules of a Finnish workplace…
Janne and Jia have talked about many practicalities of job seeking and working.
– Like should I make a call to a company, because in China calling would mean I’m not patient enough. So I need a native Finnish person to tell me if it’s okay to call here, Jia says.
Janne has also given Jia tips about useful websites, for example companies that would be interesting for her and others that provide salary references – the one question probably to come up at some point when applying for a job.
For Janne, the main idea of the mentoring programme is to boost the confidence of the mentee. When Jia had her first job interview in Finland, Janne gave her some advice and a lot of encouragement.
– He told me to be myself and I would be okay. I think that was important, Jia says.
– It is always good to have someone more experienced to talk with. My advice as a mentor may not always be exactly correct but it is still nice to be able to ask when you’re unsure, Janne says.
Mentoring is a two-way process. While the mentee learns about the Finnish working culture, the mentor equally receives a dose of knowledge about the mentee’s culture. Mentoring has provided Janne more understanding on the Chinese working culture, which he deems valuable.
– A lot of suppliers are from China, and so are many professionals. Knowing the Chinese culture makes it a lot easier to work with Chinese companies, states Janne.
Questions will be answered
All in all, mentoring is not too time-consuming. Between October 2018 and April 2019 Jia and Janne have had five face-to-face pair meetings and some group meetings along the programme. They feel that they have been quite free to choose how much time to spend and when.
In the future Janne will be busy with other activities and participating in new mentoring programmes shall have to wait. Jia would be happy to help others as a mentor should she find a job in Finland and gather more experience. What ever happens, Jia and Janne will keep in touch with each other.
– Janne will be the first person I ask if I have any work related questions, says Jia. Janne agrees to answer, with pleasure, and even when he’s busy. And should he have any questions about, say, Chinese culture and companies… he’ll certainly ask Jia.
Talent Tampere mentoring programmes
- International Talents’ mentoring programme is for international degree students and other talents. Click here for more information.
- Hidden Gems mentoring programme is for the spouses of international researchers working at the Tampere University, and beginning in autumn 2019 also for spouses of private sector employees.
- Mentoring Programme for Doctoral Researchers/PhD Students is aimed for international and Finnish doctoral researchers/PhD students nearing the end of their studies.
- The programmes are organised by the Tampere University with the help of regional collaboration networks.
- All three programmes are conducted in English.