GCU Connect Mentoring

al-alumni-mentoring-gcuconnect

Overview

Glasgow Caledonian University’s official online graduate platform GCU Connect includes mentoring functionality that helps graduates and students to easily find and get in touch with one another. Here, graduates can sign up to be available to mentor, introduce students to their professional network, review CVs, answer industry-specific questions and share their professional experiences and advice. Students seeking mentors can see their recommended mentors in the directory, can search for other potential mentors by subject area, region, company and other criteria, and then reach out to them to start the process.

Looking for a Mentor?

Those who wish to be mentored are typically students and recent graduates. However, more experienced alumni may also be interested in finding a mentor, especially when they consider potential career transitions. All are welcome to use this site to search for and connect with GCU graduate mentors.

The Process

  1. Read the program overview above.
  2. Read our tips for being a good mentee for best practices and ideas.
  3. Read the mentoring agreement and goals.
  4. Sign up at the GCU Connect website. It is highly recommended that you register using your existing LinkedIn or Facebook account; however, it is still possible to join even without one. Follow the instructions when you join. (Note: because you are seeking a mentor, do not fill out the "How Are You Willing to Help?" section when you register -- this section is only for mentors.)
  5. Create your profile. If you join via LinkedIn, your GCU Connect profile will fill in automatically. You may sync your LinkedIn profile with your GCU Connect profile at any time. If you join without using LinkedIn, you will be asked to create a profile directly within the GCU Connect site.
  6. Find a potential mentor:
  • Click on the Directory tab at the top of the main page. This takes you to "Find the People You Need." On the right side of this page, you will see "Suggested Mentors for You."
  • Look through the list of suggested mentors. Click on the "Request Mentorship" button to connect with the mentor of your choice.

Note: please limit your mentorship requests to no more than two prospective mentors at any given time. Prospective mentors should respond to requests within one week. If you do not hear from a prospective mentor, she or he may be mentoring another person and is not available. At this time, feel free to request another mentor from your list.

Mentoring Agreement and Goals

Mentoring Agreement and Goals 

To get the most out of your mentoring experience, it's important to communicate clearly at the outset of a new mentoring relationship about both parties' expectations and goals.

Use the questions below to help bring structure to your mentoring relationship.

How Will the Relationship Work?

  • Communication. What works best for the two of you? How do you plan to interact?
    In Person | Phone | Email | Skype, FaceTime, etc.
  • Mentorship area(s) of focus. Discuss and settle on the expectations that work for each of you.
    Offer advice | Help with CV | Interview guidance | Work shadowing | Work placement | Internship opportunity | Other
  • Commitment. What is the expected duration of your mentoring relationship?
    Three months | Six months | Ad hoc -start out and see how it goes
  • Frequency. How often during the agreed-upon time period would you like to meet, interact, or talk?
    Once per week | Every other week | Once a month | Ad hoc – start out and see how it goes

What Do You Hope to Gain from the Relationship?

  • Are you being mentored?
    Take a minute to write down your goals for this relationship. Be detailed so your mentor can fully understand what you are looking for.
  • Are you a mentor?
    Think about your goals for the relationship and be sure you communicate those goals to the person you're working with.
  • For both mentors and mentees: what actions can you take to achieve your goals?
    Now that you both have goals, share them with one another. For example, you might suggest a brainstorming session, create an outline of a potential mentoring schedule or agenda items, or define the ultimate "takeaways" of the relationship. 

Tips for Being a Good Mentee

A successful mentoring relationship is a two-way street. These tips can help you get the most out of the experience.

  • Know what you're looking for.  When identifying a potential mentor, know what you would like to accomplish out of the connection. Complete some self-assessment exercises to help you define what you want to learn or gain from each connection. This will help you better articulate your interests and expectations when making your mentor request.
  • Know how to ask questions.  When you ask a question, try to answer it before you ask the mentor to help fill the gaps. We recommend you don't ask overly broad questions ("What should I do with my life?"), but rather ask for advice about what to consider and think about as you follow your life's path ("I am debating between majoring in economics or public policy. What advice do you have? What can I do to find out more to help me make a decision?")
  • Be a good listener.  The sooner you get to know your mentor, the better. Don't let fear or shyness keep you from asking questions about your mentor's background, motivation, career, and life.
  • Updates, updates, updates!  Remember: it's your responsibility to reach out. A good way to do this is by providing weekly or monthly updates to your mentor, so both of you are up to speed the next time you chat. Be sure to establish with your mentor about the expected frequency and length of your meetings or calls.
  • Don't take it personally.  Mentors have busy lives. It's normal for the frequency of communication to ebb and flow. Do what you can to keep the conversation going by asking open-ended questions for your mentor to think about for your next exchange. And graduates really enjoy hearing about life at GCU. Open your email with what's happening on campus or in Glasgow (ex: “it's snowing again in Glasgow! How is it where you are?”)
  • Manage expectations.  Plan, discuss, and set expectations early in the process. Don't enter into a mentoring relationship simply to network or land a job or internship. These can be perks of a mentorship, but should not be your ultimate end goal. Gaining insight, advice, and learning from others' experiences are the valuable outcomes from mentoring connections.
  • Be a resource.  Graduates may want to know about how things are going at the school or program they attended at GCU, have a child or relative interested in attending GCU, or plan to visit campus in the near future. Be available to point them in the right direction to help them get the information they need.
  • Say thank you.  Be sure to thank your mentor for his or her time. Make sure your note has sincerity and depth; it should be longer than a sentence or two. For example, you might relate what you learned from the mentoring relationship or how it helped you take the next step in your personal journey.

Tips for Being a Good Mentor

Acting as a mentor can be an incredibly valuable experience, both for the mentee and for you. Here are some ways to get the most out of the experience.

  • Discuss, set, and agree to mutual expectations with your mentee.
  • Be committed.  Acting as a mentor might develop into a long-term relationship. Make sure you have the time and motivation to stay committed to the relationship based on the agreed-upon expectations. When conflicts arise, please communicate about them with your mentee in a timely fashion.
  • Be proactive.  Take initiative in the relationship. Often students can be shy and intimidated by the idea of reaching out to mentors. Make it easier by reaching out to them! Ask questions; challenge them to think about aspects of life they may not have considered, such as:
    • Type of lifestyle in a certain field or industry
    • Work-life balance
    • How to set realistic goals and expectations for this phase of their career
  • Get to know the person you're mentoring.  A personal touch makes conversations more interesting and rewarding. Offer feedback; for example, you might guide the mentee on how to improve their communication skills. Are they able to articulate and answer questions? Or do they offer general information?
  • Tell stories. Share what you've learned from your past experiences with your mentee. Your experiences are invaluable.
    • Describe both successes and challenges. This will help give your mentee a greater perspective of the ups and downs of various careers.
    • Recognize that your mentee has many options. Through your example, you can encourage your mentee to be flexible, keep an open mind, and learn new things.
  • Provide perspective.  Use your distance from a situation or issue to help the person you're mentoring get past their emotions and biases. Use examples from your own life, and of other people whom you know well.
  • Bounce ideas back and forth.  Provide thoughts and feedback -- not directives -- in your conversations with the mentee. This helps her hone her judgment and ability to make decisions.
  • Ask for information.  Mentoring is a two-way conversation. Students or recent graduates may not yet realize what they have to offer you.
  • Be encouraging.  Challenge them to try new things rather than focusing too narrowly early on. Keep a positive attitude to help your mentee through challenges by giving him or her tips to help them keep their perspective. If you are mentoring a student, you've been there, too, and likely have a valuable perspective on what they're going through.