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Mentoring in the Age of Social Distancing

Mentoring in the Age of Social Distancing

In an effort to gauge the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market, we’ve gone looking for answers for the growing unemployment rates, the missed job opportunities, and the career paths cut short. What we’ve come away with has been a collective call for mentoring. In campuses nationwide, eyes are turned to career offices to see what mentoring programs they pull out of their proverbial hats to remedy the dire employment situation and help the hemorrhaging class of 2020. 

Now More Than Ever, the Answer is Going Digital

If up until recently digital mentoring was deemed a ‘nice-to-have’, the outburst of COVID-19 has turned this ‘can-do-without’ into an absolute necessity. Institutions that have not yet made the move to digital are learning the need for a digital space to support their mentoring initiatives and are fast realizing that without a virtual presence their mentoring programs are as good as non-existent.

The ability to hold physical events has dissipated completely making it a necessity to move over to digital means. Whatever was once done through physical communication between mentor and mentee, needs to be replaced with a virtual space in which such interactions can form and forge ahead. 

Institutions that have already made the move to a digital platform before the rise of the pandemic have been better equipped at maintaining and growing their mentoring programs. UCLA for example, has been operating their mentoring program through their alumni platform for several years already. When the pandemic hit, their mentoring platform was able to recruit a record number of alumni willing to mentor. Thanks to their digital platform, the school was successful in making 1,974 matches between Fall 2019 and Summer 2020.

Like them, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 turned out to be a strong engagement opportunity for Rice University’s Mentoring Hub. The integration of a digital mentoring platform before COVID hit, served as the basis for a seamless transition into remote mentoring. 

A Personal Process Through a Viral Means 

Career mentoring and job placement have always been a somewhat personal matter. They require a relationship of trust between a mentee and his mentor, to disclose a mentee’s dreams and aspirations and to reveal his shortcomings alongside his strong suits. It’s an uncovering process, initially, and it requires a level of one on one interaction to be most effective.

So how does a career office itching to help its students and alumni start off on the right foot create this personalized space at scale when there is no physical private space for a mentor and a mentee to connect? 

The answer comes down to a virtual mentoring platform and the functionalities it offers that can give the level of personalization that a mentoring program requires. 

Digitalization With a Personal Touch

Ultimately the need for social distancing has not been the kiss of death for mentoring programs.

Quite the opposite, it has been a timely opportunity to leverage technology for the sake of improving and scaling mentorship capabilities.  

In much the same way, the move to digital does not mean the loss of the personal touch or the privacy one would want when speaking with a mentor. In a time when virtual meetings are the norm, we sometimes forget the level of intimacy we reach and the sensitive information that passes through digital channels. 

But if we can successfully talk to our bank representative online, date virtually and generate actual romance on the web, if business dealings and therapy sessions are conducted online, then why not mentoring too?

As part of our relief effort during these challenging times, we are now offering you the ability to launch your own digital mentoring program for free with GradMentor. Now you can  run a digital mentoring program at scale and give your students and alumni the mentorship and connections they need to better succeed during this time. Sign up here for free access to GradMentor. 

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