I met Lovisa Niilekselä, the project leader of the WILMA-committee. The word WILMA stands for Women in Lund Mentorship Association. We spoke about the mentorship program, why there aren´t so many men involved and how the word of this committee spread to other unions and even cities. Read more to find out all about it!
Hey Lovisa, for those who are not that familiar with WILMA, can you briefly explain the concept?
WILMA is a mentorship program and network available to assist and guide students in the best possible way. The mentors are all women and come from different companies and have leading positions in their area. The mentors do this voluntarily. We want to value the female leadership and the mentorship program are for both men and women, the so-called adepts.
So, who is WILMA for?
It is for students who want to get inspired for their futures and get personal coaching. We focus on the students who study their first semesters. This is the time where we can see the mentors having the most impact on students. The program fits well when you are not quite sure of what you want to do in the future. Master students are of course also allowed to apply, even though they are more certain of what they want to focus on.
What do you think is the reason for men not being involved in WILMA?
In the past, it has only been a program for women. So even though it´s not like that today that could be a reason. Another reason could be that the name of the committee is a girls name, all the mentors are female and so far the committee members have all been girls. To solve this it requires targeted marketing. Three men got in to the program this spring, and hopefully the number will still increase for each semester.
What can students get out from WILMA?
You get a mentor that coach you, a networking evening and internal meet-ups, like the brunch we had for the adepts two weeks ago. You will also get a deeper insight into how you work and who you are as a person. You will get help with your CV and get great networking opportunities, and possible ties of friendship with the other adepts.
You were once an adept, what´s your best memory from that time?
My mentor was personal and our relationship was very friendly. She helped me with preparations for job interviews, so called mock interviews. She interviewed me in the context of how they would have done it in real life in an interview situation and later gave me invaluable feedback. She also helped me with my leadership, how it could be improved and how to motivate people around me. My former mentor is also my reference when I search for jobs.
What would you like to say to those thinking about maybe applying as an adept for next semester?
Apply!!! We have many spots to fill up. We are here to help and inspire as many as possible. The only thing for you to do is show up for the three meetings per semester (so six in total) with your mentor. We will help you with complete guides that we have designed ourselves, the so called “Wilma Year guide”. It contains ideas and possible questions about what to talk about during the meeting. We in the WILMA-committee as well as the other adepts are here for you if you need help in the exchange process. The more confused you are the better.
What are your best tips?
Prepare questions and have a structure. As an adept you get six occasions to get all the answers to your questions. Another tip is to be open and see things from another perspective. Be receptive to mentors with other experiences and career paths than the one you are thinking about right now. You will benefit from this mentorship program no matter what. Thirdly, I want to call for daring to take contact. Take the opportunity to talk to other adepts and take part of the network we build up together. Dare to take advantage of the opportunity that is given to you.
WILMA doesn’t only inspire students at LUSEM. You have also been in contact with other student unions wanting to do the same. Can you tell us more about it?
I have recently met a representative from the Legal Association at Juridicum and they are going to create a WILMA! They also believe that empowering women are important and that a mentorship program like WILMA is something you really benefit from. I have also helped the Human Resources programme here in Lund and UppsalaEkonomerna with this. Being involved in this project and developing it is so much fun. We want to give students as much added value as possible.
Lovisa also told me a about an exciting event that WILMA soon will announce on LundaEkonomernas facebook page. This event is an external event; this means that even if you are not an adept (maybe yet) you can still join this evening. And this is an evening you will not regret joining because it´s about boosting your LinkedIn profile!