EAIE mentor experience: from mentorship to friendship

EAIE mentor experience: from mentorship to friendship

As the EAIE Mentorship programme gets ready to kick off yet another year of cultivating supportive relationships between internationalisation professionals, EAIE member and former mentor Evelien Hack shares how her experience led to knowledge exchange at the institutional level and friendship at the personal level.

During the preparations for EAIE 2017 in Seville, I came across the advertisement seeking new mentors and mentees for the EAIE Mentorship programme. Having already attended many EAIE Conferences, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to become a mentor to another professional working in internationalisation. That’s how I met Florina Camarasu from the University of Bordeaux.

In Seville we both attended a meeting for all new EAIE mentors and mentees, where we received a rough framework for the mentorship programme; basically, it was up to the mentor and mentee to decide what worked best for them. After the meeting we decided to go for coffee in order to figure out what our collaboration could be – and the rest is history.

Determining development objectives

A week or two after the EAIE Conference, we planned our first Skype meeting and decided we would meet every four weeks or so via Skype. After two interesting meetings, we decided that we would work towards visiting each other’s universities and workplaces. We further developed this plan to include an exchange totalling four days, for which we would use the Erasmus+ staff mobility grants. Florina would spend two days job shadowing me and meeting relevant colleagues at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and Leiden University, and I would go for two days to the University of Bordeaux to give workshops on Internationalisation at Home, internationalisation of medical studies and the partnership strategy of the LUMC.

To make sure the project would get the approval of both institutions and to help focus our mentorship, we defined the following development objectives together:

  • Improving the visibility of internationalisation within the university (how to position oneself as senior project officer in internationalisation)
  • Learning tips and tricks with regards to university politics (global vision, position of university in the world/country)
  • Sharing best practices (prioritisation, conflict management, how to address peers and superiors, how to take initiative etc)
  • Developing new personal and professional skills from a senior officer

Cultivating cross-institutional collaboration

In mid-April 2018, Florina came to Leiden and met many colleagues from the medical centre and the central offices of Leiden University. In general, her first day focus was on global university strategy and internationalisation (presentations of the institution/campus/global internationalisation strategy, internationalisation tools available); the second day focused on the personal and professional skills development listed above. Some additional activities included meeting with the main actors of the LUMC and Leiden University International and Research Policy, attending a presentation about master’s and doctoral studies at the LUMC, learning about regulations regarding awarding of degrees, and gaining a global view of the internationalisation strategies at the LUMC. All in all, a very full 2 days!

Two weeks later, I went to Bordeaux for a two-day visit as well. The request from the University of Bordeaux was for me to share specific knowledge and expertise of good practices in internationalisation at the LUMC. Thus I gave three workshops on specific topics: internationalisation at Leiden University, medical studies exchange options and partnerships.

The collaboration between the LUMC and the University of Bordeaux has since become more intense. On the bachelor’s level, we are sending six to ten Leiden students to Bordeaux for a short-term exchange programme in October 2019. At the same time, we are working on developing a programme for Bordeaux students to come to Leiden for exchange. So at the institutional level, things are certainly happening.

On a personal level, we are in touch and still learning from each other’s positions within the institutions. I would encourage everybody to sign up for the mentorship programme because it is valuable to learn from a colleague and it can be the start to a productive collaboration or even a new friendship.

The EAIE Mentorship programme

Are you an EAIE Member and keen to take a junior internationalisation professional under wing, or looking to learn from someone who’s already been there and done that? Sign up for the Mentorship programme by 02 August!