All of us, at some point in our lives, have looked for a mentor to guide us through, either Professional careers or Educational learning. Mentorship simplifies the things that tend to be filled with lots of uncertainty and doubt. In today’s scenario, while faculty mentors are experts in their fields and can surely enlighten the students on aspects like conducting research, and advancing their analytical skills, that itself may not be sufficient. Students and young alumni need more insights into the actual industry and business world to help them survive in the corporate world. This is where alumni mentors come into play.
There’s no denying that students are the most benefited through the Alumni Mentoring Programs but that’s just not it. The benefits of the program are multifold and will be extended to all of those involved. Students will gain important insights, alumni will feel more connected to their alma mater and fellow alumni, and the institution will have a stronger network of individuals working to improve the learning experience. While Alumni Mentoring Programs are one of the best fits for Student development, how do you design one such program to reap the maximum gains in an effective way?
Designing a Mentor Program
With 12+ years of exposure in Alumni Relations, we, at Vaave have identified the Best way to design a mentor program involves 4 steps that are equally important as the other.
- Layout Mentoring areas – Alumni Mentoring can be stretched to multiple areas where both the Student and Alumni can be benefited from and classified into –
Academics – Project Guidance, Internal Examinations, Higher Education (India and Abroad inclusive)
Careers – Jobs/Internships and Entrepreneurship
Personal Guidance – Mental Support and Investment
Pick up and focus on one area that you want to run a program on, this further helps to screen the mentor and the right audience i.e., mentees.
- Setup mentoring platform/tools – Starting and running a mentorship program takes time, but to start with, it needs a dedicated platform/tool that is meant exclusively for the purpose. It can be tools like handbooks/Q&A platforms/Training that help mentors prepare for their roles and platforms that enable Virtual Interactions and engagement. This helps mentors and mentors understand their roles and what is expected of them during the mentoring program. Specific tools for taking feedback or surveys are not to be forgotten.
- Identify and Enroll Mentors – The process of Identifying mentors and onboarding them, the mentor journey mapping in turn has 4 major stages within it –
Awareness – Introduce the Program among your Alumni community, and create hype around it so that Alumni can’t afford to miss out.
Value – Market the value that Alumni would get from it. Sell it to the Alumni by showcasing the worth that they can gain out of this and how it helps in their personal and professional growth.
Consider – Identify the different sets of your Alumni, consider their interests/Domains/Achievements, and place them into the right program.
Loyalty –. Specify the expectations and responsibilities of the mentor which helps in getting commitment from the mentor and his interest to come back.
On the other hand, Qualifying mentees as well along with identifying mentors is needed, so that the discussions cannot be off the board. Provide access to only such mentees who don’t end up spamming your platform.
- Measure success and recognize best mentors – Build up your own metrics like No of mentors onboarded, mentees benefitted, sessions conducted, no of jobs/Internships acquired, according to your needs on which you can evaluate the program that enables you to improvise and make it better. Have a timely tracking of the program and keep certain benchmarks that can measure the success of your program.
Recognize and filter best mentors by Reviewing and from the Feedback Mechanism and with a couple of iterations. Reward them with Certifications, and brands and thank them on social media that aids the mentors in their professional careers. This also encourages fellow Alumni to become mentors.
The support a student gets from an institution from the faculty is immense. Having said that, in the latest competitive world that doesn’t let a newbie excel that easily, Alumni Mentoring simplifies the process of Career development. The Alumni Mentoring Program is more of an Exposure/Experience-sharing program in the vocational curricula that many students are choosing where networking is key and previous experience is necessary. Mentoring provides both of these important opportunities, as well as many other benefits. Seize the opportunity to improve your students’ learning experience by building and maintaining a Mentoring Program.