Mutual learning through SAFA’s mentoring programme

Mentor Francesc Palomeras and his mentee Rasim Utku Kara think SAFA’s mentoring programme was a good opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences and to pause and reflect on their current situations.

Text: Anni Varis

The second round of SAFA’s hugely popular mentoring programme involved 25 pairs of mentors and mentees. The programme, which commenced in October 2021, comprised remote meetings for all participants as well as one-to-one meetings arranged separately by the mentors and mentees. The participants in this round included five pairs of mentors and mentees whose working language was English.

Rasim Utku Kara was one of the mentees to take part in the 2021 programme. He is an architecture student from Istanbul, Turkey, where he also completed his undergraduate degree. Now based in Oulu, he is currently job hunting while putting the finishing touches to his master’s degree.

Rasim chose to apply for the mentoring programme because he wanted to learn from other people’s experiences and develop a closer understanding of the Finnish architectural industry.

Francesc Palomeras was assigned as his mentor. Originally from Spain, Francesc runs his own practice, Ettala Palomeras, with his wife, Tiia Ettala, and he is also a partner at Luutonen Palomeras.

“I decided to sign up as a mentor, because I wanted to be able to share my experiences of what it has been like for someone me, who isn’t a native Finn, to practice architecture here. And it also gave me a useful insight into what architectural training looks like these days,” Palomeras explains.

The pair met a total of five times during the course of the programme. They initially started out by going over the rules and aims of the programme but gradually their conversation moved on to projects they were working and their approach to architecture and design.

“One of the questions I was keen to ask was how to manage the stress and time pressures that come with being an architect,” Rasim says. “I was also keen to find out about how Francesc approaches his work and how he processes everything.”

“We definitely discussed a lot of broad topics, but we also covered some very detailed and technical issues to do with contracts and portfolios,” Francesc explains.

We plan to stay in touch and check in on each other in the future.

Both agree that the mentoring programme was an excellent opportunity for learning and a chance to pause and reflect on their own practice and careers.

“There was so much to talk about, and we didn’t get the chance to discuss everything in detail, but we plan to stay in touch and check in on each other in the future,” Francesc says.

“Make sure you ask all the right questions, because you stand to learn a lot,” Rasim adds. “I would definitely encourage everyone to apply, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just do it!”

The next round of the SAFA mentoring programme will start this autumn. Read more about the programme and apply here. The deadline for applications is 21 August.