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Exploring the Mentoring Buddy Program: A Dual Perspective


Many internationals in Finland would like to continue their further education to enhance their job opportunities and integrate better into society. Mentoring is one of the most effective tools to support them. Only this time mentors were students themselves!

The Mentoring Buddy Program, a collaboration between Turku UAS, International Working Women of Finland RY, and International Professionals Finland Ry, saw participation from 73 individuals, comprising both mentors and mentees. In two mentoring batches, 89% of participants completed the 3-month program.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and there are plans to monitor mentees’ progress in the coming autumn. During the program student or alumni mentors were able to support internationals in deciding and proceeding in their further education and navigating the Finnish society in general. Mentors themselves benefit from reverse mentoring and learn about challenges of internationals in the country such as difficulties to secure a job despite previous education and work experience or having their foreign degree recognized in Finland.


Mentee Journey: Joan’s Perspective

Joan, mentee


Meet Joan, an ambitious international student from Singapore, who embraced the Mentoring Buddy Program to expand her professional network and gain support in a new academic environment.

”I believe so much in the power of networking”, Joan emphasizes.

Joan’s background in business administration and her experience in the vibrant professional landscape of Singapore provided her with a unique perspective, enriching her interactions within the Mentoring Buddy Program.


Mentorship Impact: Finnish Insights

Paired with a Finnish mentor, Joan gained invaluable insights into Finnish higher education and work culture.

It was very helpful for me, especially since my mentor is a Finn.

Her mentor provided guidance that helped Joan navigate academic and professional landscapes with confidence, enhancing her sense of belonging in Finland.


Cultural Exchange: Building Strong Connections

Throughout the program, Joan’s relationship with her mentor, Olivia, evolved through mutual respect and a shared commitment to learning. Despite differences in age and background, they embraced diverse thinking, recognizing that wisdom knows no bounds.

A key moment in Joan’s journey was securing a summer trainee role, showcasing the program’s impact and her mentor’s invaluable support.

Inspired by Olivia’s guidance, I recommend the program to fellow international students.

a group of international students

The participants of Mentoring Buddy program in May 2024. Photo: Lucia Vuillermin.


Mentor’s Perspective: Olivia’s Experience


Olivia, mentor

Olivia. Photo: Tommi Ahonen

Reflecting on her role, Olivia emphasizes the program’s importance for international women in higher education.

Mentorship programs empower women to navigate unfamiliar academic landscapes with courage and resilience.


Olivia, born in Namibia and raised in Finland, is a student at Turku UAS and she has a passion for nurturing inclusivity and diversity. Her experience in higher education made her an ideal mentor for Joan. She witnessed the transformative power of mentorship, gaining valuable insights while supporting individuals.


The majority of the participants were women

It is a fact that the majority of Mentoring Buddy participants are women and that the very same international women are struggling more in their path in Finland. (Read the recent article in Turun Sanomat on the matter).

Mentorship programs like ours empower women to navigate unfamiliar academic landscapes with courage and resilience so that they can create better work opportunities and often re-invent themselves career-wise in the country.


Program Significance: Turku UAS’ Commitment

The Mentoring Buddy Program exemplifies Turku UAS’s dedication to diversity and inclusion. Through the collaborative efforts of mentors like Olivia and mentees like Joan, this program facilitates integration, cultural exchange, and mutual understanding, enriching the educational experience for all involved.


Summary of the Project

The Mentoring Buddy Program aims to support international talents in Finland, fostering cultural exchange and integration.

  • Participants: 73
  • Programs: 2 batches
  • Completion Rate: 89%


Mentoring Buddy team:

Sirppa Kinos (Turku UAS)
Lucia Vuillermin (Turku UAS)
Olvia Kumpola (International Professionals Finland RY)
Niko Vähäsarja (Turku UAS)
Taina Nordgren (Turku UAS)
Megumi Hayashi (IWWOF RY)

Discover more about the Mentoring Buddy project

In collaboration with International Working Women of Finland RY and International Professionals Finland Ry.


About the Authors

Sirppa Kinos, Senior Lecturer, Member of the Mentoring Buddy Team, Turku University of Applied Sciences

Lucia Vuillermin, Project Leader of Mentoring Buddy, Turku University of Applied Sciences



Sirppa Kinos, Lucia Vuillermin: Korkeakoulutetuilla Suomeen muuttaneilla naisilla on pitkä ja kivinen tie työelämään. Turun Sanomat 13.5.2024 (article on international women’s challenges in Finland)

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