Mentoring Arena is a Startup School pilot project that offers a platform for experts and entrepreneurs to come together and co-create the next generation of sustainable businesses.
Mentoring Arena starts with three workshops, during which the participants learn tools to support the mentoring process and practice communication skills. The third and final workshop took place on May 5th in Yrityslinna.
– The participants are very motivated and seemingly want to develop themselves, says Mentoring Arena trainer Marika Alhonen.
– Everybody seems to be very excited. This project fits very well to Startup Schools idea to renew and innovate, says Mentoring Arena trainer Taina Mikkola.
Mentoring Arena is developed by Haaga-Helia StartUp School in co-operation with Haaga-Helia Alumni services and is backed up by IntGen, an EU-financed project.
Growing as a professional
Mentors come with diverse backgrounds but the ideal Mentoring Arena mentor has work and life experiences. The mentees need to be working on their business idea to be able to join the mentoring process.
– The diversity of the participants is a strength that brings more content to the program, state Alhonen and Mikkola.
Mentoring Arena is a place where mentees can find confidence to make decisions and progress. The process also provides support for the mentees in development of their business from a trusted and experienced mentor.
– I am currently also studying the vocational teacher studies so I believe that this process is an opportunity for me to learn things, develop new skills and grow professionally, says mentor Leena Salmio (in the photo below).
Mentoring Arena offers the opportunity for mentors contribute to the development of others by making use of their own wealth of experience. But mentoring is not only a learning process for the mentees. It can also help the mentors to develop their own competencies through the lens of others.
– For me this is about sharing experiences. When I was a student I would have loved to have a mentor, so for me helping people this way is very rewarding, says mentor David Blinov.
Tools for the future
Mentoring helps mentees figure out solutions to problems that they might not manage to solve by themselves. It also supports the personal and entrepreneurial development of individual mentees.
– I wanted to participate in Mentoring Arena so I could get help with launching my own business. I look forward to getting concrete help from Mentoring Arena and from my mentor, says mentee Nina Pulkkinen.
– I have many years of experience in various areas. Now I want to start my own business and I need ideas on how to make this idea attractive. Marketing is a big challenge, says mentee Elina Jalonen.
For both the mentees and the mentors Mentoring Arena can be an opportunity to challenge their own views. – I am looking forward to the mentoring process. Everyone should have a mentor who questions and gives feedback, says Elina.
So the process begins
Through the mentoring process, the participants will not only contribute to the development of others but might also discover new things about themselves.
– I think that you can never learn too much, there is always a chance to develop. I wanted to come here with an open mind, says mentor Hanna Huuriainen.
The programme works as a reflection channel for the mentors and fosters new skill development. Mentoring can also provide new perspectives and ideas.
– These have been three very interesting sessions. Mentoring Arena has not only enabled me to share my knowledge outside my own work but also helped me to gain new insight and learn new things, says mentor Miika Kostamo.
The mentoring pairs were matched in the last workshop and now the actual mentoring will commence. The pairs will work according to their own schedule. There are two additional workshop where the participants can share their experiences. The programme will be wrapped up with an evaluation workshop in November 2016.
– The aim is to develop a working model for StartUp School mentoring. We have experimented with the implementation of new ways and methods of grouping of the participants, confidence-building and coordination of mentoring pairs, state Mikkola and Alhonen.
Text and photos Nina Finell