Engagement tactics inspires mentoring community
For graduating students, the next step is often a difficult one. Where to find a job? How to find a job? How to apply the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to a professional role? These are all common concerns that the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) wanted to address by piloting a MentorCity program.
Funded by the Status of Women Canada, more than 170 people have been active in the mentoring community over a two-year period, and more than 90 mentoring relationships have been established between new female engineering graduates and current professional engineers.
“We created this program because we wanted to build a community that could connect with each other, start conversations and give young people a helping hand as they set off in their new careers,” says Aarthi Vig, OSPE Program Development Manager.
Aarthi personally matched each new grad with a mentor. And, she has been staying actively involved in the community to help build excitement and engagement, and to monitor the progress of each relationship. It’s an effort that has paid off —at least 14 of the mentees have found relevant employment since participating in the mentoring program.
“Being actively involved in the activities of the community has been a great way for me to communicate with the members. I can see what’s going on in every mentoring relationship and tailor my comments and feedback to encourage greater activity and engagement,” says Aarthi.
She has also supported the mentoring community by hosting webinars, having one-on-one conversations with everyone who expressed interest in joining the community and creating a tool kit that includes instructions on using the MentorCity platform as well as articles on conversation starters and mentoring best practices.
Aside from fostering engagement and supporting the community, Aarthi advises program managers that the other secret to a successful program is to put the necessary time and effort into the initial software set up process. The platform is seamless and easy to use, she says, if you’re meticulous in customizing MentorCity to meet your organization’s needs.
“The MentorCity platform is simple for program managers to navigate and customize and the resources it provides offers access and insight into our mentoring community that I wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Aarthi, adding that she can easily assess things like specific mentoring relationship goals and individual time tracking logs as well as overall program evaluations so that she can tailor her feedback and advice to meet each person’s needs.
The most surprising feedback Aarthi has received from participants has not been from the mentees, but from some of the mentors. Because while the focus of the program has been on providing new grads with support and job search strategies, many mentors have commented on how they have benefited from the experience as well.
“A lot of our mentors said that taking on this role reminded them of what it was like when they first entered the profession. And many have said that their mentee’s unique insights and ideas have helped them improve their skills in their current roles.”