The Hottest Mentoring Programs of 2020
January was National Mentoring Month and this year Coronavirus invited a very different kind of celebration. The move away from the traditional celebrations of years past was noticeable in the need to virtually mark the day while keeping with social distancing restrictions. But what makes this year’s National Mentoring Month so different runs deeper than the mere move from physical to virtual. It goes to the core of what college mentoring programs are all about. COVID-19 redefined not only where and how mentoring was conducted, but also what was implicit in it and what mentors were there to provide. With the onset of the pandemic, institutions and mentors alike were forced to broaden their definitions of traditional mentoring to include not only digital professional guidance but also remote companionship, and a virtual shoulder and an ear to lean on.
Mentors willing to lend their time and know how over the past year have had to take on a triple role, running the gamut between impromptu therapists, friends and professional coaches, in an effort to help students weather the storm of the global pandemic. Moreover, they had to quickly adapt to a new virtual world and find efficient ways to provide top-notch mentoring guidance over a computer rather than through more traditional channels and face-to-face meetings.
Like the mentors, college mentoring programs had to adjust quickly if they were to be of service to their students. Heads of mentoring programs across the globe were faced with the challenge of answering the dual need of professional assistance and job placement in an unstable economy, and emotional containment in times of great uncertainty.
This year, we are honored to spotlight individuals and teams of talented Career Services professionals who rose to the occasion, quickly and efficiently pivoting to virtual mentoring programs, offering mentees a digital home to house their needs and voice their concerns.
Amongst the winners of our Exceptional Dedication to Mentoring and Professional Guidance Award, we focus on mentoring professionals that successfully adjusted their programs to the needs of the hour.
- Firstly, we’d like to give a big round of applause to UCLA’s Alumni Association for their exceptional use of a digital platform to facilitate mentoring to their young alumni. Expanding their mentoring program in the spring of 2020 at the request of their alumni and in response to the pandemic, their mentoring hub has been an invaluable resource when connections with fellow alumni and mentors was so greatly needed.
- The University of Arizona’s mentoring program launched with 25 mentors and in the space of a year has grown to include over 60 alumni mentors, going against the grain of randomly matching up mentors and mentees and instead seeking out meaningful connections, building lasting relationships of support and guidance not only between the mentors and the mentees but also amongst peers.
- King’s College London’s Alumni Affairs Office made a tremendous effort to ensure their alumni were able to connect with mentors during lockdown, running their first ever virtual mentoring event at the height of the pandemic, and not stopping there. Getting their mentors to post short digitized introductions of themselves on the platform where the event took place has been invaluable in attracting mentees, both students and young alumni to their virtual event.
- Emory University employed a digital three tier mentoring program to answer the three types of needs voiced by their constituents, including flash mentoring, early career coaching and veteran alumni long-term mentoring, and have serviced nearly 300 students to date, with a strong strategy in place for 2021.
- Finally, a big shout out goes to Pepperdine University for their integration of a digital strategy ahead of their 2021 fundraising roadmap, and their use of the platform’s credentials based matching to ensure quality connections.
To all our award winners in this category, we’re so proud! Job well done. Here’s to continued collaboration and growth in 2021.