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How to get 42% Participation in an Alumni Mentoring Program?

How to get 42% Participation in an Alumni Mentoring Program?

Alumni Mentoring programs are clearly a buzz at the moment in the world of alumni relations and career services.

Indeed most education institutions would like to have a successful alumni mentoring program or student mentoring program but may be confused as how best to make this happen.

With this in mind, I had the privilege of hearing at the recent Global Leaders Summit, a joint presentation on how to build a successful alumni mentoring program by Katie Davy, Executive Director, Alumni Career Programs and Partnerships at UCLA and Michael Schurder, Vice President Product at Graduway.

UCLA have used Graduway’s on-line alumni directory / alumni software to power their alumni network.

Please watch the full session below.



The presentation is a great guide on how to practically build a successful alumni mentoring program.  Congratulations to the UCLA team for such an achievement.

I wanted to add three personal thoughts of my own on helping schools build a successful mentoring program, but with the emphasis on three ‘mistakes’ I believe schools need to avoid.

Firstly, I believe some schools become metric obsessed and lose sight of the goal.  They would like to track and follow every possible click or interaction (many of which are not relevant) while forgetting to focus on the only metric that really counts – how many mentoring relationships are actually being formed.

Secondly, some schools have a tendency to become micro managers.  They want to co-ordinate and control every aspect of the mentor-mentee relationship.  I believe the balance can get out of hand and stifle the natural interactions in a mentoring relationship.  Your mentors are experienced professionals and do not want to be micro-managed.  Schools need to facilitate these relationships and not micro-manage them.

Finally, I believe some schools focus their efforts disproportionately on the mentee (students) and neglect the mentor (alumni). In particular schools make the classic mistake of building a stand-alone mentoring platform or alumni software, without any thought on what will motivate the mentor to actively and regularly visit that platform.  A successful mentoring program needs to be built as part of a wider alumni/mentor network.

The result of these mistakes is that you can end up with a program that tracks every possible interaction, controls every aspect of the relationship and supports the mentee every step of the way and yet still fails.

Avoid these simple mistakes and I believe you will be much closer to achieving the type of strong results UCLA achieved.

Have you built a successful mentoring program?  Can you provide feedback on mistakes you made and others can learn from?

Finally, which is the most important factor in your view for a mentoring program to succeed?

It’s also worth seeing a great Mentoring case study by Tulane University.

I would welcome your thoughts.

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