GTK started a mentor program in August 2020 with the aim of community-building and helping first-year international students to settle in Szeged. The programme involves upper-year Hungarian and international students of the Faculty.
The design of the mentor programme is based on a method presented by a guest lecturer to our International Economy and Business MSc students in the Fall semester of the 2019/2020 academic year. In context of the International Human Resource Management course, students were introduced the Employment journey mapping technique used to reduce the workforce fluctuations at a workplace. Benefiting from the course, our students designed the student journey method that serves the basis for the current mentor programmes. Students identified 5 phases of the student journey, from sending the first inquiry email to becoming an alumni. Students elaborated on the different phases in groups of four. GTK chose one phase and after spending several months with discussions and preparations, started to apply it in practice. The selected student group compiled the two key documents of the programme, the Student Onboarding Kit and the Mentor Tracking Sheet. The Student Kit is a detailed summary of the steps that every new student have to take after a successful entrance exam, while the Tracking Sheet is an effective tool for mentors and program coordinators to monitor the completed tasks.
The 21 Hungarian and international members of the GTK mentor team were selected based on motivation letters and personal interviews. The team shares different responsibilities. Four appointed head mentors coordinate other voluntary mentors and keep contact with the colleagues of the International Office of the GTK. Most of the voluntary mentors joined the team because of personal motivations. They still remember their own experiences from the first semester thus being motivated to offer help for the new freshmen students. Mentors should be proud of participating in the program. They receive support and encouragement from each other and from the colleagues of the Faculty responsible for coordinating the team: Anita Kéri, Ildikó Pusztai-Varga, Melinda Kovács and Gabriella Maczkó. The programme is a great opportunity for community-building between Hungarian and international students also, boosted by social programmes and a newly designed mentor T-shirt. Hungarian mentors gain experiences that could be an advantage for them later in international environment.
The mentor programmes has an even greater significance amidst the circumstances caused by the pandemic. International students may face difficulties when entering Hungary, and, after arriving, they have to spend two weeks in quarantine until receiving two negative COVID19 test results. It is a great help to have somebody who guides and helps them both with practical issues and emotional support as well. The Faculty plans to elaborate on further student journey phases (e.g. a guide to the first exam period) and to coordinate and maintain the mentor programmes.