Mentoring has always been a part of the Wake Forest experience; at its heart is the teacher-scholar ideal. Faculty, staff, alumni, and even students, provide great informal mentoring to Wake Forest students at all points of the college experience. Formal mentoring programs build upon these informal relationships and provide additional structure and oversight to ensure that effective mentoring is occurring for a targeted population.
General guidelines are provided here for the development of a formal mentoring program. Additionally, the staff of the Mentoring Resource Center is here to help any interested group or Program Coordinator in the development, implementation, and assessment of mentoring programs on the Wake Forest campus. And, once your mentoring program is established, we will feature it as a formal program on our website.
Planning a Mentoring Program
Planning a mentoring program is equally as important as the program itself and taking the necessary steps and investing the time now will ensure a successful program in the future. Do not rush the process. Start small and develop early successes.
Do you want to learn more about developing a mentoring program? Check out our Mentoring Program Coordinator Handbook.
Things you should think about as you plan your mentoring program:
- Goals. You should have clear goals for your program. Begin with the end in mind. What is the purpose? What are you trying to achieve? How will you know when you have achieved it? Is mentoring the best method for achieving your goals?
- Program Design. Develop a written timeline for all of the activities that have to happen between now and the end of the mentoring program. Consider: communication plans, recruitment, requirements for mentors and mentees, budget, logistics, training, contingency and continuity plans.
- Recruiting Mentors. You need to think about how many mentors you will need, and how you will recruit them to your program. Who will be your mentors and how will you find them? Does your group have a built-in set of potential mentors, such as an alumni network?
- Matching. There are numerous ways to match mentor pairs: through an application process, through ranking by participants, through “speed matching,” or through demographic variables. The bottom line is this: the key component to a successful match is the desire and willingness of both individuals to participate, to communicate, and to learn.
- Training. Both your mentors and your mentees should be provided in-person training to introduce them to the concept and expectations of mentoring. This training can be facilitated by the Mentoring Resource Center upon request (and schedule permitting).
- Feedback. You should develop regular points to check in with both the mentors and the mentees, individually, to see how the relationship is progressing. Additionally, it is recommended that you provide a group check-in meeting (both mentors and mentees) at the mid-point of your program, which can also serve as another training opportunity.
- Tracking. The Mentoring Resource Center asks that you keep detailed records of your mentor pairs. Not only does this allow us to build a potential mentor “pool” for the future, it also allows us to keep accurate records of who is participating in mentoring within the Wake Forest community and to evaluate the reach of our mentoring efforts.
- Evaluation. At the conclusion of your program you should request a confidential evaluation of your program by both the mentors and the mentees. Additionally, it is good practice to do a mid-point evaluation to make sure that everyone is on track.
- Closure and Celebration. It is important to bring official closure to the program and to celebrate its success. Thank your mentors for their time and investment. Bring an end to the official, formal relationship and celebrate all that you have accomplished!
- Ongoing Support. As Program Coordinator, you should look for opportunities to provide ongoing support to mentors and mentees. Additionally, the Mentoring Resource Center will provide tools, strategies, and support both to you and to your mentoring program participants.