‘The Fulfilment I Derive from Helping Others Makes the Programme Special to Me’
At the end of 2023, HSE University launched its International Mentoring Programme, where international alumni help current students adapt to the new environment, develop their personal skills, set goals, and make clear plans for job search and career growth. The HSE News Service spoke to participants about why the programme is interesting to mentors, what it can offer mentees, how it is it different from other career guidance initiatives, and more.
The goal of the HSE Support and Career Centre for International Students and Alumni is to ensure that international students are a full part of university life. The centre launched the International Mentoring Programme to make sure that such students have opportunities for self-realisation while they are still adapting to the Russian-speaking environment and do not yet have a good command of the language.
It is available to all English-speaking international students and alumni.
The mentors are HSE international alumni selected on the basis of motivation letters and their willingness to invest in the development of international students. Unlike the one-on-one career guidance available at faculty career development centres, the International Mentoring Programme is also about personal development.
Project Manager, International Mentoring Programme
Mentors are trained to build a strong rapport with their mentees. If they encounter any difficulties, they can go over them in a debriefing session with a T&D specialist. All participants develop strategic thinking and goal-setting skills and create a personal development plan. This is one of the best practices in the commercial sector, and it is also useful in academia. Cross-cultural communication experience also enriches the participants.
The programme lasts a minimum of two months, during which successful applicants will receive guidance, support, an outside perspective, and expertise from their mentors. Mentees learn structural goal setting and get help in designing and implementing a personal development plan.
In addition to having the opportunity to return to their alma mater, mentors develop their leadership skills, network with other alumni, and get supervised training if needed.
After the project, mentors gain access to a private club of international mentors with useful content and online events.
Maria Berezina (Ukraine). Mentor; External Communications and Corporate Brand Manager, Russia and Eurasia at Teva in Moscow;
graduate of the Master’s in Integrated Communications
I obtained my master’s degree at HSE as an international student. When I started looking for a job in Moscow, most employers did not want to deal with the intricacies of hiring foreign students, and I received dozens of refusals. A lecture from an HSE graduate about the rights of foreigners during the hiring process gave me confidence, and I convinced an employer to hire me. This experience shaped my belief that even the smallest help can make a difference in someone's life. When I received a notification about the opening of the HSE mentoring programme for international students, I didn’t hesitate to apply.
I’ve mentored two students: Angel from Nigeria and Ali Sher from Pakistan. Angel studies on the Master's in Management in Creative Industries in St Petersburg and wants to become an entrepreneur in the art field. Our main goal was to help her make her first steps as entrepreneur in a new city, so we’ve created an approach to help her explore the city and interact with key art players.
Ali Sher is a master's student in Science, Technology, and Innovation Management with a passion for environmental projects. He is researching ways to reuse food waste and is looking for a job in Moscow. Together, we shaped a plan for finding a job, learning time management skills and Russian language, as well as overcoming barriers along the way.
The personal development plans are centred around identifying problems and their causes, setting strategic goals, and designing tasks to reach them. For me, the most important criterion for success in creation of a personal development plan is an open dialogue.
Maryann Asemota (Nigeria). Mentor; researcher in Moscow;
graduate of the Master’s in Science, Technology, and Innovation Management
Students of the programme have a great opportunity to learn from experienced professionals from around the globe. The mentors are very informed and helpful, offering students guidance and advice on many facets of their academic and professional lives. The programme's framework is also well-designed. We were able to develop our mentorship skills as well.
Several students noticed considerable gains in their self-assurance, communication abilities, and general personal and professional development. The programme's emphasis on cross-cultural exchange fosters a better understanding and appreciation of other cultures. I would also regard myself as a student of this programme, because I’ve learnt a lot from my mentees.
Paolo Abbate (Italy). Mentor; employed in Leonardo Aerospace, Defence and Security within the HRO Transformation Unit in Rome;
graduate of the Master’s in International Business
I believe that sharing my experience at HSE could help international students facing the same cultural, academic, and personal challenges that I faced a few years ago. More generally, I became a mentor because I believe in the power of knowledge exchange, insights, and helping others as a means of community empowerment and personal and professional development.
It is very important to understand the mentee's needs, set goals, and create a personal development plan together. The mentee must be proactive in proposing topics to discuss or activities to carry out. Mentorship must be an equal exchange, not a one-way process.
This time, I worked with a first-year student of the Master's in Business Development. We covered several topics, including cultural differences with Russia, HSE opportunities, training and development, CV and interview preparation, and how to find a job in Russia. This last topic was the subject of the professional development plan we created together. The plan allowed us to define short-, medium- and long-term objectives for finding work in Russia and the actions required to achieve them.
What I enjoy most about being a mentor is the opportunity to gain new perspectives and different opinions from individuals with different cultural backgrounds. The fulfilment I derive from helping others is another aspect that makes the programme really special to me.
Ahmed Gomaa (Egypt). Mentee; student of the Master’s in Business Development at HSE University-Nizhny Novgorod
I believe that making a positive contribution in society means helping others with knowledge and support. My experience with my mentor Paolo Abbate is going very well. We have good communication and are collaborating towards our goals. My main plan is to learn Russian language and culture, find an opportunity to work in Russia, and actively integrate into society.
Intikhab Ali (Pakistan). Mentor; founder of IAArchitects; graduate of the Master's in Prototyping Future Cities
I am the founder of IAArchitects, an architectural firm located in Islamabad. In addition to my professional practice, I am involved in education and serve as an Assistant Professor in the Art & Design department at a local university.
The mentoring process holds great interest for me, especially in understanding the comprehensive support that universities provide to students. From the mentoring programme, I gain personal satisfaction in positively impacting students' lives.
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