Running a large-scale, multi-site mentorship program

Step-by-step guide to implement a mentoring program

Insights + tips from IntoUniversity

About IntoUniversity

IntoUniversity is a British not-for-profit organization helping young people from the UK’s most disadvantaged areas attend university and subsequently build professional careers. The organization currently operates 35 centers across the UK, including several in London and three in Scotland. 

  • Number of centers across the UK: 35
  • Staff per center:  4-5 
  • Additional staff: Head office, Marketing, Fundraising and more
  • Overall staff: 150+ 

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Running a large-scale, multi-site mentorship program

IntoUniversity’s Mentoring Program

As the organization’s overriding goal is to increase student employability, career mentoring is a key component of the service. Mentor relationships focus on finding career opportunities, developing student resumes and building employment skills. 

Mentorship is usually offered to students during their final year of university. Mentors are volunteers who come from a range of industries and backgrounds. In the event that an alumnus is looking for employment at a later stage, they are still eligible to join the mentoring scheme. 

The fact that all mentoring takes place online via the Graduway from Gravyty platform: “IU Connect”, enables IntoUniversity to reduce the time burden on mentors, and makes it easier to recruit, manage and scale the number and range of volunteers they need.

Implementing your mentorship program step-by-step

1. Before you begin

Specify your programs—Decide how many mentorship programs you want to run and set timelines for each of them. IntoUniversity operates two five-month programs per year: 

  • From September to February—for university students thinking ahead to careers
  • From March to August—for first-year and gap year students to learn about possible careers and decide which universities to apply to

Plan ahead—There are many moving parts involved in launching a successful campaign: marketing, interviewing, recruiting, and training mentees and mentors, signing up sponsors, setting milestones and more. It is essential to leave yourself at least six months to plan everything fully before launch.

Define your roles—A major benefit of using the Graduway alumni engagement and mentorship platform is that one person can oversee many tasks. IntoUniversity successfully runs their mentorship programs with just one staff member fully assigned to the programs and a second member who helps on an ad hoc basis.

Create a baseline questionnaire—Send out both mentor and mentee baseline questionnaires asking participants about their expectations for the program. This will help with the success of the program and improve outcomes for future programs. 

2. Lining up your candidates

Personal interview—Meet and interview candidates in order to fully understand their needs and personalities, as well as match them with an appropriate mentor.

Mentee training—Offer mentee training to explore what support mentors need most. If mentees struggled with creating their profile on the platform, this can be addressed in training as well.

Mentor recruitment—Mentor recruitment should be performed after you have met all the mentees and understand what support they need.

Targeted mentor training—Use mentor training time to explain the needs of the mentees and help mentors plan ahead how they can best support them. 

Reach out to your sponsors—IntoUniversity’s mentorship program is sponsored by a combination of corporate, educational, and private sponsors (e.g a law firm might be interested in sponsoring students who want to go to law school). If sponsorship is a feature of your program, reach out to potential sponsors after you meet your mentees so you can select appropriate candidates. 

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Running a large-scale, multi-site mentorship program

3. Setting up the platform

Be transparent about prerequisites—When you market the program, specify that opening an account on the mentorship platform is a prerequisite. IntoUniversity sent out the following guidelines before the program launch: 

In order to be selected for the scheme, you must have an IU Connect account. All communications with the mentor will be on this platform.

  1. Create an IU Connect Account
  2. Make yourself familiar with the platform
  3. Update your profile—add a picture and attach your LinkedIn details

Manually add participants—IntoUniversity found great value in personally meeting all the mentors and mentees so as to be in a position to create the best matches. Once this was done, mentors and mentees were manually added to the platform. 

Offer an onboarding document—An onboarding document based on their mentee’s hopes for the program helps mentors initiate the right conversations. This is especially important as student mentors may be reserved and inexperienced. 

4. Setting milestons

Use a priority sheet—As part of the mentee training, Into University used the following priority sheet to help mentees define what they want to work on during mentoring sessions. 

Focus on mentee’s priorities—Base your program milestones on the mentees’ priorities to ensure they’re getting what they need out of the program.

Use reminders and prompts—Set reminders and prompts within your platform to ensure that mentors and mentees are following the desired trajectory and working towards their goals.

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Running a large-scale, multi-site mentorship program

5. Track your progress

Create an ending questionnaire—Send out both mentor and mentee ending questionnaires and compare answers to those given in the baseline questionnaire. This will help you evaluate whether the program has been successful. 

Monitor communications—Use the platform’s safeguarding features to monitor communication between mentor and mentees. This is a big advantage of Graduway as it is much easier to monitor on the platform than via email and ensures appropriate mentoring communications.

Use your program analytics—Use the in-built analytics to set KPIs and report back to donors, sponsors, and program managers on successes and areas in which the program might improve.

Learn how Graduway from Gravyty enables you to engage your alumni anytime, anywhere. Get a demo.