The importance of mentoring cannot be overstated in the ever-evolving aspects of education and professional development. The need for well-structured, robust mentoring programs is a priority for many institutions across the globe. You must have come across and organized many mentoring programs in which the alumni imparted education, skill, and wisdom to many mentees and helped them anchor themselves in this dynamic industrial realm. Why not make it more interactive, where the mentors receive feedback from the mentees periodically? Giving and receiving suggestions is one of the cornerstones of forging a symbiotic relationship between the mentors and the mentees. Also, feedback is a powerful medium for improving mentoring programs. Well, even the best can be better. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of a two-way mentoring program and how you can apply them to your educational landscape.
Defining & Understanding the Purpose
Understanding the purpose of the two-way mentoring program is a great way to start designing it. The heart is set, and the head is clear on what to expect, ask, and take from the program. Let’s dig a little deeper into how to make this possible.
Outlining Objectives for the Programs
Clearly define the course/program outlines and directives, such as career guidance, professional growth, upskilling, higher education, etc., and make them relevant to the core beliefs and values of your institution. Involving millennials (21–25-year-old alumni) and vagabonds (26–34-year-old alumni) in curating the curriculum is recommended, as they are well aware of the latest updates in their respective fields.
Many mentoring programs (including the two-way ones) start without introductions between the mentors and mentees. Many may dismiss this as trivial, but it plays an important role in the whole process. Conduct orientation sessions for both groups where they can connect and familiarize themselves. This is a perfect icebreaker, as both mentors and mentees know what can be expected from each other. As an institution, you can explain to them the advantages and takeaways from this program. So, the mentors and the mentees know how to take it forward from there.
Designing and Structuring
This process is integral to the whole mentoring program. The lion’s share of work, such as matching or assigning the mentors, articulating the necessary resources, and establishing communication channels, is decided in this phase. Let’s explore how these can be used to the fullest.
Matching Mentors & Mentees
Students nowadays have a clearer understanding of what they want from mentoring programs. Mentors, too, know what kind of mentees they are looking forward to teaching. Create opportunities where students can choose their mentors, and mentors can choose mentees. If this procedure seems compelling, you can always take the initiative in match-making! Consider common factors such as industries, personal interests, career aspirations, and goals in the matching process. Consider their preferred mode of mentoring; it could be one-to-one, one-to-many, etc. Leave a wiggle room for flexibility as the needs of the mentors and pupils take priority here.
The right resources act as navigators for both the mentors and mentees. Prepare, with the help of alumni, the toolkits, materials, and jump starters listing best practices, tips, and pointers for both parties. Create the required textbooks, questionnaires, and assignments with the help of the mentors. Hold webinars, workshops, and training sessions to ensure both parties can turn to you in the face of confusion and uncertainty. You can regularly provide video content, such as snippets explaining tricks on how to utilize the program effectively.
The growth and access to feasible technology are enabling people to do wonders. With wonderful tools at your disposal, mentoring needn’t be physical. Use varied mediums such as networking events and virtual communication tools such as Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.
Feedbacks & Measuring Success
Feedback is the foundation on which the whole two-way mentoring process relies. If suggestions are considered, improvements can be made easily. Mentors look forward to hearing from the mentees but not from the faculty, as it hampers the authenticity of the former’s opinion.
Establish a system for receiving regular feedback about the mentors from the students. Frame comprehensive questionnaires about every aspect of the program. Hold one-on-one feedback sessions for one-to-one mentoring programs where the mentee can be transparent yet empathetic about their opinions.
Analyzing & Acknowledging Success
Mentors put a lot of effort into teaching, curating curriculum, clearing doubts, and providing support to their junior counterparts. Mentees, too, devote a significant amount of time to learning skills, writing assignments, and making projects to show that they are industry-ready. There’s got to be a way to acknowledge and analyze their efforts. As an institution, you can establish some metrics to measure their success. Parameters such as career progression, alumni engagement, number of mentors and mentees onboarded, mentorship satisfaction for both parties, students securing seats in universities for higher education, students who got placed and received internships, etc., can be used. You don’t have to restrict yourselves to this. Make the metrics that suit you better.
Congratulate mentors who led successful mentoring programs by felicitating them at alumni events. Mentors will feel a sense of satisfaction for their efforts and will come back to give a piece of themselves to more students. Create testimonials and success stories about the mentees, where camaraderie and brotherhood with the mentor were pivotal. Highlight the importance of a mentor in a student’s life.
Mentoring programs cover many facets of life. It is crucial to a person’s overall development. In the era of continuous learning, mentoring can be a powerful vehicle one can use to reach their target. Alumni offer training and guidance to first-year students so that they can excel in their field. Employ the techniques discussed in your alumni programs and witness the rise and glory of your institution as a pioneer in education.