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Inspirational interaction is a win-win situation

Mentor Sirkku ja mentee Mairi 

Estonian-born Mairi Põltsam has taken systematic measures to enter the Finnish job market. In addition to studying and continuously seeking opportunities for professional growth, she has learned the language quickly. The Mentoring Programme provided another avenue to expand her knowledge and skills.  

Mairi Põltsam and her mentor Sirkku Eskolin participated in a mentoring programme intended for immigrants who are in the early stages of their careers. Eskolin has years of financial management experience under her belt, and Põltsam is keen to pursue a career in financial management. She has studied, among others, accountancy in Estonia. 

Both agree that the mentoring programme, which lasted throughout the winter and ended in spring 2013, was an inspirational experience and offered personal and professional advantages for both parties.

“Even though we were both a bit scared at first,” laughs Mairi Põltsam. 

Support for motivated job seekers 

Mairi Põltsam worked as sales assistant in Pärnu, Estonia, before moving with her two children to Tampere in 2011. Her husband had already been working in the construction sector in Tampere for a couple of years.    

“When I first arrived in Tampere, my Finnish vocabulary was limited to a few words. I knew that I had to learn the language properly to improve my employment prospects.”

While attending a Finnish-language course at Tampere Adult Education Centre, Mairi heard of the mentoring programme – what a fine way to strengthen her language skills and communicate with a professional in her field.

Sirkku Eskolin was introduced to the mentoring programme by her professional contacts – and was not immediately sold on the idea. What if the cultures of the mentor and mentee clashed?  

“I knew the mentees were highly educated and eager to find employment. If I could do something to ease their way into the job market by sharing my experiences of financial management and the Finnish way of life, why shouldn’t I do that?” 

Eskolin took part in the training for mentors and struck up an almost immediate friendship with Mairi. They met five times to discuss the themes of the programme and potential employment opportunities. They also updated Mairi’s CV. The purpose of the mentoring programme is to offer support and advice to immigrants who are looking for work in Finland, it is not intended as a recruitment channel. 

Sirkku Eskolin says that she learned a great deal about herself and the Estonian culture. Her mentee, on the other hand, took a concrete step towards her new career. Before the mentoring programme ended, Mairi was delighted to hear that she had been accepted to an apprenticeship programme to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration in a local accounting company. The accounting course she completed at Tampere Vocational College last winter provides a solid foundation for her studies.

The article originally appeared in Tredea’s newsletter in May 2013.

​Sirkku Eskolin and Mairi Põltsam encourage everyone to join the mentoring programme. “Job seekers need to be active and realistic, as no one finds work sitting at home,” says Mairi Põltsam (right). “Mentors receive advance training and just need to be themselves,” emphasizes Sirkku Eskolin.​
​Sirkku Eskolin and Mairi Põltsam encourage everyone to join the mentoring programme. “Job seekers need to be active and realistic, as no one finds work sitting at home,” says Mairi Põltsam (right). “Mentors receive advance training and just need to be themselves,” emphasizes Sirkku Eskolin.​