Implementing a student mentoring program can have benefits for students, alumni and the universities, colleges or schools who run them. Before we look at the key factors in planning a student mentoring program I will briefly look at the reasons why running a student mentoring program is beneficial to all involved.
Having a mentor while starting a career can be an invaluable resource in many ways. An alumni mentor allows students to tap into the mentor’s network for potential job openings or recommendations, as well as improving their job search and interviewing skills.
It’s not just graduates who benefit from Alumni Mentoring programs, Alumni do too. In a CMI survey one third of managers stated they want to develop their coaching and mentoring skills. An Alumni Mentoring Program can give them the perfect opportunity! Furthermore, by establishing a mentoring relationship with the student, they can establish an amount of loyalty that they may not find with other new employees. They also have a chance to “try out” a potential new employee before hiring him/her and get a good feel for their work ethic, goals, and personality.
An often overlooked benefit is to engage alumni, making them more likely to contribute to funding appeals. By having the opportunity to develop their mentoring and coaching skills and by developing relationships with current students, university bonds that may have weakend over time can once more be strengthened. This means that when the funding calls come, they are more likely to donate as they will feel a new allegiance to the university or college and can see the impact of their donations.
The key ingredients of a successful alumni mentoring program
Having reached the decision to offer a student Mentoring Program the next important stage is to start the planning and design process of that program.
Through our experience of developing mentoring programs we have identified 5 key elements that need to be considered:
1. Setting Clear Objectives
Try to be clear about the objectives you are trying to achieve and the benefits you expect to come from achieving those objectives. For example is your program aimed at;
- Supporting student employability
- Alumni to alumni networking to raise your profile
- Enhanced academic achievement.
- What benefits might you expect to achieve and can these be tracked?
- Increased graduate employment
- Enhanced alumni financial support
- Higher academic achievement
Once you’ve set objectives you need to make both your alumni and current students aware of the opportunity of your Alumni mentoring program. Having an up to date Alumni database is obviously going to be a great help here as is a regular Alumni magazine where you can promote the program through email marketing and editorial in your newsletter.
One of the biggest factors in the success of any mentoring program is the matching of a student (mentee) with an appropriate Alumni mentor. Like any relationship, the success of a mentoring match will hinge on whether there is a good interpersonal fit. Whilst personal chemistry is not something that can be easily matched, industry knowledge and specific skills and experiences can be. So it’s important to identify the key variables that will form the important matching criteria that will underpin the system.
4. Program Management
Once you have established your program objectives, begun to market it and are matching your mentors and mentees you need to ensure you have the correct platform in place to manage the program. Program management is basically your management dashboard and should include;
- The ability to view who is being matched on the program
- How many active mentors you have
- How quickly are you matching mentors with mentees
- What goals are being achieved, these could be learning goals e.g. interviewing skills
- A strong program management function will help you track that your program is achieving your expected goals and if not help identify where you can start to implement some corrective action to get things back on track.
It’s important to support your mentoring program with useful content for both the mentor and the mentee. Mentoring should have a clear framework so both the mentor and mentee are clear of their expectations and also have a roadmap to refer to that takes them for the start of the mentoring journey through to completion.
At PLD we have a wealth of information on how to set up and run effective mentoring programs. If you would like more information call us on 01625 251 055 or request a demonstration.