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Articles > Building Your Community > How to set up a mentoring programme with international alumni

How to set up a mentoring programme with international alumni

With graduates living across the world, how can you create opportunities for your alumni to learn from one another?

Alumni mentoring programs can be an extremely valuable way to engage both your more experienced and newer alumni. By creating opportunities for more peer-to-peer interactions, while also helping to advance the skills and industry knowledge of junior alumni, mentoring is a tangible experience of lifetime support and value from your alumni association. In addition, those that sign up to mentor others often report a great sense of satisfaction and ‘learning by teaching’.

However, setting up a mentoring programme can be challenging, particularly when your alumni are living across the world. You’ll need to consider time differences, cross-cultural advice and getting alumni involved that may not have engaged with your community for some time. Plus, you’ll need a robust plan for getting in contact and following up with potential mentors, and then for matching alumni to their best-suited mentor. Finally, you’ll need smart and reliable software to help you manage the programme, and to facilitate community engagement and communications. Find out how to get started:

1. Clarify the aim and benefits of the mentoring program

Explain what you are hoping to achieve with the mentoring program, whether connecting graduates at different levels or developing links with industry specialists. You should also share the benefits of becoming a mentor to those you are approaching, such as developing relationships with potential interns/employees, giving back to their community and developing a self-fulfilling cycle of opportunities.

2. Consider how you can approach mentors

Which channels can you use contact mentors? Sending a mass email won’t be as effective as targeting specific groups to ask for help. For example, with the ToucanTech email engine you can filter by job title, or type of organisation, you can then add these contacts to a list to send a tailored email to. Be sure to choose a personalised subject line, such as ‘Could you mentor a future junior doctor?’ to encourage opens. 

As well as emails, with ToucanTech you can also use different parts of your community site to promote your mentoring scheme and encourage people to sign up. For example, you can post in your forum, or in your industry clubs, to promote the scheme to relevant members of your community. You can either ask your prospective mentors to email you, or fill in a form to gather all your responses in one place and to automatically update the records of your community members. 

3. Following up with mentors and providing training

Once your prospective mentors have signed up to offer help, you could offer them some training. With international alumni, training in-person may be difficult, so offering virtual training is a good alternative. If your mentoring programme is less formal, you could upload a best practice guide to your community site for members to download, or ask mentors to get in touch with each other to share tips that they have learnt in the course of previous mentorship programmes. 

4. Ask your mentors to sign up to your community site and fill in their profile

Once your mentors have been given a brief and training, ask them to sign up to your community site and register as a mentor. Ensuring that your mentors have a profile that details what their industry experience entails and how they are happy to help others will ensure the best possible chance of setting up a successful mentoring relationship. 

Mentors could offer help with:

  • Career guidance
  • Answer to a specific question
  • Industry/ sector specific help
  • Interview preparation
  • Return to work      
  • Setting up a business
  • Work experience
  • CV guidance

5. Your mentees can started with setting up mentoring matches!

Once mentors are signed up, mentees in the community can search by a variety of filters, including:

  • Industry
  • Company
  • Job title
  • Mentoring categories
  • Education institution
  • Featured mentors

Mentees can then contact mentors directly through the mentoring portal based on the kind of support they are seeking, and admins can see these messages. They can then set up virtual or in-person meetings to learn from their mentor.

6. Ask your mentees for feedback

Once the mentoring relationship has been established for some time, or the guidance has been passed over to the mentee, you can prompt your mentees to give feedback through the ToucanTech system. Receiving feedback will help your mentoring programme to improve over time, and will also help to inform who could be your ‘featured mentors’. On ToucanTech career pages, featured mentors are displayed first, and can be filtered by mentees. 

Mentoring can be a great way to engage your community and create connections between older and younger alumni. Find out more about how to drive engagement in your international community by speaking to a member of the ToucanTech team.

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