MENTOR COLLECTIVE BASICS
What is Mentor Collective?
Mentor Collective (warmly known as MC) is an international mentoring community. We partner with over 50 high schools and universities across the United States and Canada!
What are the expectations of the program?
1. You will meet with your mentee via videochat, text, email, phone, or any other method.
2. You will meet at least once a month.
3. You will report each time you communicate with your mentee on mentorcollective.org. The report is a quick survey where you can notify us that you’ve been in touch with your mentee, and give feedback, as well as let your school know if your mentee could use more specialized support.
Who is the Mentor Collective team?
The Mentor Collective team consists of Sonia, Jess, and Gaby. We will be in contact with you and your mentee to make sure things are going well in your relationship, as well as to provide guidance and suggestions.
What is the pre-match videochat?
The group videochat will take you through the expectations of the program and answer any questions you might have. You’ll also get a chance to meet other mentors from different schools! Think of it as an orientation to the mentoring program.
What if posted videochat times don't work for my schedule?
Don’t worry! We understand that schedules can conflict. Just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your usual weekly schedule. We will work with you to find a time that best fits your schedule.
I have too many mentees right now
Email the MC team (email@example.com) letting us know and we will help you with next steps.
I don't want to be in this program anymore
Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) letting us know and we will give you the next steps.
I need to change my email
1. Log into mentorcollective.org using the email you signed up with.
2. Click your name on the upper-right.
3. Click “Profile & Account”
4. Scroll down until you see “Your email addresses”
5. Enter your new email
I'm not getting the email confirmation/reset password email
1. Check your spam box. If it is not in there, 2. Check to see if the email you signed up with is correct. If it is correct and you still don’t get the email, 3. Tell the MC team (email@example.com)
CONNECTING WITH YOUR MENTEE
Do we have to use Skype to videochat?
MC Tip: It’s important to connect with your mentee at least once per month on videochat - you can’t beat a face-to-face connection! You can choose any video platform (Google Hangouts, WeChat video, Facetime, Facebook video, etc.) that you and your mentee are comfortable with.
“My mentee really loves using WeChat, so it was easiest for us to use the videochat tool on there. It was a new platform for me, but she actually taught me a lot about it! And we message and send emojis in between sessions.”
What if we want to meet in person?
MC Tip: The program is designed to be videochat-based, so meeting in person is not a requirement. But if you get approval, it can be a great way to build your connection even more. If your mentee is under 18, it’s essential that you check in with the Mentor Collective team before setting up an in-person meetup.
“I happened to be planning a visit to the town where my old school is, so my mentee and I planned to meet up at a coffee shop. It was cool to see them in person, and show them my favorite place to get donuts in town.”
MC Tip: If you and your mentee aren’t able to meet in person, consider using videochat to show each other your current surroundings, like your college campus or classroom.
“I live in another country from my mentee, but I used videochat to show them around my house and office -- we compared study spaces, and that helped us get a better sense of each other’s life.”
What if my mentee or I don’t want to use the conversation guides, because we’d rather just have a conversation?
MC Tip: You definitely don’t need to use every part of the conversation guides but it’s important to use them as a guide, since the school picked the module topics based on what’s most important for success on their campus.
“I usually look at the module before meeting with my mentee, and take note of the most important points. Then I let the conversation flow naturally so we can discuss what’s on my mentee’s mind, and transition into covering the module topic. If the conversation slows down, I look back at the module for specific questions to use, but generally, I prefer to use my own words.”
What if there’s a time of year that I won’t be available to talk with my mentor, or when I’ll be super busy? What should I do?
MC Tip: Communication is key! As soon as you know you’ll be taking a major trip or focusing on a major project, let your mentee know, and plan around it. Arrange meetings before and after, and consider ways to stay in touch, even if they aren’t on videochat!
“I took a month-long research trip to Egypt last semester, and even though I wasn’t able to Skype my mentee during this time, I sent them 2 postcards, and videochatted to catch up the week I got back.”
What counts as a “conversation?”
Throughout your mentorship, we ask you and your mentee(s) to log your conversations on our website or through our automated texts. But what counts as a conversation? It can be:
- 1 phone call
- 1 videochat session
- 1 email exchange
- 1 in-person “interaction” (grabbing coffee, spending 10 minutes talking before class, etc.)
- 2+ text messages exchanged within 1 day
If in doubt, please don’t hesitate to ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Logging conversations helps your school gauge whether the program is helping students, and how to help them better!
COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR MENTEE
What if my mentee seems disengaged, or is slow to respond to me?
MC Tip: Don’t take things personally
“It can be frustrating to not hear from your mentee when you’re volunteering your time, but you have to understand the ebb and flow of their year, like during exams or orientation, there will be a lot less time.”
MC Tip: Be aware of what else is happening in your mentee’s life, and suggest times to meet that fit well around busy periods
“Leading up to the beginning of the semester students are inundated with lots of emails, and things might get lost. What I do is set up meetings in second week of classes, so we can talk about the first week of classes.”
MC Tip: Be creative in using social media to connect with mentee who may not use email very much
“I emailed, I called, they didn’t respond, but I added them on WeChat, and they talked a lot more. I started a WeChat group with new and returning students, and that helped my mentee feel more comfortable.” '
NOTE: Don’t forget to look on mentorcollective.org for alternative ways to contact your mentee. If more than two weeks pass with no response from your them, feel free to contact us (email@example.com)
How can I support my mentee without "crowding" them and invading their space What is the best frequency of communication?
MC Tip: Help your mentee understand why having a mentor will be useful to them
“At first my mentee wasn’t sure why the program was useful or why we needed to meet. I learned from his WeChat about his personal interests, and connected them to campus activities, and text him important questions to show him what topics will be important to discuss."
MC Tip: Use social media to stay in touch before and in between videochats
“I have one mentee who is open and loves to share, and the other one is a bit distant, and I’m having trouble getting across to him. In that case, I check in with him regularly on WeChat so he knows I’m present, without necessarily harassing them all the time.”
MC Tip: Discuss what communication styles work best for each of you
“The mentee really needs to share what’s comfortable. We talked about it, and we agreed that we would videochat once a month, and I would text her in between to check in.”
What do I do if my mentee tell me something really serious or sensitive?
First thing, remember that you are not alone. We are here to support you.
As a mentor, unless you are an employee of your school, you are not a mandated reporter (https://www.socialworkdegreeguide.com/faq/what-is-a-mandated-reporter/). However, if your mentee tells you something concerning, you should loop in the appropriate people to make sure your mentee is safe and appropriate measures are taken.
Please take the following steps should your mentee tell you something concerning:
- Determine if they are presently safe (if not, consider calling, or encouraging them to call, emergency services)
- Let your mentee know that you will be reporting that to us so that the school can take appropriate next steps with them
- Report what happened to us either through your conversation report, or through emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (you can also text us at +1 (617) 340-3014)
- We will then follow up for more information as needed and loop in the school
Letting us know about something serious or concerning helps us make sure your mentee is safe and supported. We highly encourage you to start your relationship by being honest that you will report anything dangerous, harmful, or concerning to us so that they can get additional help.
How do I know if an issue is "serious/sensitive"?
Ultimately, your judgement is the best call here. However, there are certain things that are easier to identify as serious or sensitive, including, but not limited to...
- Feeling unsafe
What can I tell my mentee about reporting serious/sensitive issues?
You may choose to say something different, but we suggest the following:
"I am so excited to be your mentor this year. I know we have a lot to learn together and a lot to speak about. I'm very much looking forward to supporting you in your journey. Feel free to talk about anything you're interested in with me - I am happy to listen and provide input, without judgement. But if anything were to come up that I feel would be harmful to you or someone else, I'll report it to Mentor Collective so they can loop in the school for extra support/resources. It won't get you in trouble, it's just an opportunity for the school to help you more. What are your thoughts on that?"
HOW WERE YOU MATCHED?
My mentee is different from what I expected — why were we matched?
MC Tip: Matches are made based on the responses that both you and your mentee gave on the matching survey. Some of these, like hobbies, academic interests and type of student, may be clear similarities right away, while others, like personal challenges, may take a while to come out. Be patient, and keep an open mind.
“I spent a lot of time asking my mentee questions and trying to follow up to learn more about them in a way that didn’t feel overwhelming. We spent time sharing small details about our lives, which helped us both feel like we knew each other better.”
HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR MENTEE'S LIFE
How can I help a student to find their place in a new school?
MC Tip: Help your mentee set achievable goals that feel meaningful to them
“I usually ask questions so mentees can identify their priorities and figure out what goals feel most meaningful to them, in terms of getting involved. There are so many opportunities, so my goal is to help them sift out what’s important to them.”
MC Tip: ‘Show and tell’ specific examples from your own experience
“I sent my mentee pictures of what I did in school from Instagram, showing activities and events on campus, and what you can do on the weekends, to get the discussion started.”
MC Tip: Don’t be afraid to role play challenging conversations
“My mentee faced big language barrier, so we did lots of practicing conversation starters.”
How do I build trust and understanding within a relationship with someone whose background and experiences are totally different than mine?
MC Tip: Getting used to a new place takes time, and so does building a new relationship. Be patient with your mentee, and with yourself!
MC Tip: Listen and ask questions, instead of stereotyping based on mentee’s background
“My mentee’s from a different country and I tried to go into our first meeting with zero assumptions. Instead, I asked a lot of questions to learn what she’s used to, and then we talked about what might be different in her new school.”
MC Tip: Enjoy discovering both differences and similarities
“My mentee and I have fun sharing small things about our own backgrounds. Things like food, greetings, and fun things to do where we’re from -- nothing major. This helped us both feel relaxed.”