Energy Academy, which is a broad cooperation model between higher education institutions and leading energy companies in the Vaasa region, has broadened rapidly during the past few years. In the end of 2021 its mentorship program became bigger than ever with altogether 33 mentees of which 13 from the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences. According to Hitachi Energy, who originally started the mentorship program in 2019, the goal is to eliminate the existing gap between students and working life.
“Our mutual goal is to provide students with valuable contacts to the companies, opportunities to discuss their hopes, and overall, show transparently what companies actually do and what kind of career paths we have them to offer. At the same time, companies have a chance of a lifetime to network systematically with students and their schools and get valuable insights,” says Petri Kärki, Hitachi Energy’s Vice President.
According to Jorma Tuominen, director of school of technology at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences, students are more eager to stay in Vaasa region when the valuable contacts have already been built:
“We have companies in the area that are constantly developing more modern and sustainable energy solutions that are linked to battery industry, and we have students who can offer valuable know-how of this area, which result in greater attraction point for the whole Vaasa region,” saysTuominen.
“Highly satisfied” mentees in the programme
This year, students and companies in the programme have continued working towards mutual goals even during pandemic: sharing thoughts, having intriguing discussions and meeting both online and live frequently, even once a week. After 3 months of active dialog with each other, the results look promising: According to Hitachi Energy’s fresh report of Energy Academy Mentoring Program Evaluation, vast majority of mentees described their relationship with their mentors as close or successful. Over 82 % agree strongly with the claim “I am satisfied with my mentoring relationship so far” and 100% of the respondents were satisfied or highly satisfied with the availability of their mentors.
“The results were excellent. However, we do recognize that mentees and mentors wish more face-to-face-meetings after the long pandemic period. This year so far, we have arranged a mutual online catch-up session with all the partner companies and actors with the companies presenting themselves and their summer job opportunities, along with sharing successful mentor and mentee experiences,” says Tiia-Maria Kinnula, Employer Branding Specialist, from Wärtsilä.
“I like to give opportunities for students with fresh mindset”
One of the mentors this year, Director of Information Security at Wärtsilä, Petri Koivisto, highlights that the gain from the mentorship is mutual and sees that the excellent evaluations from the mentees stem from the mutual experience of strong connection:
“I like to give opportunities for people with fresh mindset and ideas who can evaluate things from different kind of perspective and usually students are these kinds of people. As a mentor and mentee, we give each other tips from various areas, such as performing in front of the audience. In addition, I am also willing to support fully him in all his choices, no matter what,” says Koivisto.
Energy Academy hopes to include as many energy cluster companies as possible
Energy Academy has been joined by every higher education institution in Vaasa: Hanken, University of Helsinki, Vaasa University of Applied Sciences, University of Vaasa, Novia University of Applied Sciences and the Åbo Akademi University. Companies and other organizations involved in the collaboration include ABB Oy, Danfoss, EnergyVaasa, Hitachi Energy, Merinova, the City of Vaasa, Vaasan Sähkö, VASEK and Wärtsilä Finland.
“Our key companies have Energy Academy’s networking model part of their day-to-day practises. This is probably the best way to get students along in the energy industry. Already nine companies are abroad and we strive for include as many energy cluster companies as possible. Everybody wins in this game, says Tuominen.