01 Dec 17 Setting up a Mentoring Programme using an Online Mentoring Platform
Jo Haddrick is Mentoring Coordinator within the Employer Opportunities Team at Edinburgh Napier University. The department has been running a mentoring programme for 9 years and they are currently in the process of moving to an online mentoring platform, sfG MentorNet.
Following a conversation with Jo, we thought it would be interesting to share the different uses of the platform, as well as where they are in terms of steps to roll it out.
Supporting Different types of Mentoring Schemes
Napier runs multiple mentoring programmes across the university and these are gradually being moved onto the online mentoring platform, MentorNet. The different types of mentoring models:
- Career Mentoring Programme: Jo is responsible for the career mentoring which encourages the link between students and mentors in working life. There will be about 150 relationships for this, which are currently being paired. For the first time, mentors and students will have access to a resource bank full of useful information and mentors will have the ability to contact each other to share knowledge and mutual support.
- Enterprise Mentoring: The enterprise team will also use the platform to pair senior consultants from industry with junior consultants, who are students, for short term project work for local companies such as web development or research projects. The expenses function will be particularly useful in this, as will the use of forums to encourage discussion amongst the participants
- Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: Student mentors who have been there a year or two are trained to mentor new students that have arrived at the university. This enhances the range of support services available and helps students to settle in – especially if they are new to Edinburgh.
Future uses of the platform being explored include peer mentoring for college students with firm offers to join Edinburgh Napier to offer transitional support, a buddying programme for exchange students studying at the University for one trimester and e-mentoring with alumni worldwide. The staff mentoring programme will also be migrated to MentorNet in 2018.
Setting up Mentoring Online
The online platform has streamlined many of the administrative processes – essential as demand from students for mentors is increasing. Some of the steps involved in the process this year, as they add people to the system:
Getting Users Registered
- Finding suitable mentors: The network of volunteer mentors is growing and each year new mentors apply because a colleague has recommended the programme. There are also times when we have to carry out research to identify a specific mentor based on a student’s future career aspirations. Because mentor profiles include a shortcut to their LinkedIn page, we can easily find our mentors and see who they might introduce us to. Jo comments, “It is the sfG MentorNet platform that will allow us to do the mentoring more efficiently.”
- Mentor and student profile setup: Once someone has been identified as a mentor or a student participant then they are sent a link to register a profile on MentorNet. The information they have to complete is fully customisable so we can ask request different information for each programme if necessary.
Induction: This essential part of the preparation can also be time-consuming and technology, such as webinars, can help make sure mentors and students are fully prepared. Throughout 2018 Jo will build up their resource bank, including links to multimedia resources, so that information will be easily accessible – even during mentoring meetings in a local coffee shop.
- Jo comments that it used to involve generating two emails with attachments to match profiles and inform mentor and student, but it is now so simple and takes just two clicks. “I love that I log in to the mentor’s profile, choose the student and press the button. As simple and quick as that. They both then get their email and can make contact,” Jo adds enthusiastically.Next year we also want to fully explore the capacity of MentorNet to suggest mentors when we’re matching students based on information requested in the profile template.
Developing the Mentoring Relationship and Continued Engagement
- Checking Communication: “I can check a week later that they have messaged to set up a meeting or a call as MentorNet has custom designed reports to monitor what is happening on a weekly basis. The beauty of the platform is that we can see where communication is happening and focus on where it appears to have stalled so we can quickly offer support before relationships break down.”
- Keeping things going: The mobile version helps Jo a lot while she is not at her desk. “It is absolutely brilliant having the mobile version. I can be sitting on a bus going to see a mentor and can check my messages and reply to students while I am out and about. I hope the students are doing the same.”
As Jo is in the process of migrating Career Mentoring to MentorNet and supporting colleagues to develop new support models, she is keen to highlight the level of support she gets from working with sfG MentorNet, as it makes such a difference to the process. “I just think the support is unprecedented. Initially it feels like a lot of money for one project within a university to pay, but people have to understand, there are so many different services that can share one licence. It’s also true to say that the interaction with sfG is so personal. I’ve been working with David Garvie for over a year – exploring usage and building my business case for securing funding and he could not have been more helpful. He gave a demo, talked me through it all and then repeated that demo each time a new colleague wanted an intro to the system. He is now helping our Enterprise Team to get up and running – the third team within the university to be supported.
There are other companies where you pay, get one training day and everything else is additional. But sfG MentorNet is helping us set up each programme with each individual coordinator. MentorNet is happy to help each person within one license to get set up.
Their system development is also excellent – I fed back a few things that I would like to see changed, expecting this might come with an annual upgrade, but within 2 or 3 weeks the changes were made and the system upgraded. Just so responsive. A very personalised, flexible service.”