Mentoring of students has major benefits for companies and organisations too, says Patricia Perlman-Dee.
Millennials are now the largest generation of the UK workforce and, according to one survey, more than two thirds would like to be their own boss. But if they have to work for a boss some 79% say they would want that boss to serve more as a coach or a mentor.
In another study three quarters not only want mentors but deem them crucial for success. And among millennial graduates more than 60% list mentoring as a criterion for selecting an employer after graduation.
Against this backdrop AMBS is currently running a pilot of a new innovative mentoring programme. There have been mentoring programmes in the past, but these have been more focused on the goodwill of alumni giving back and mentoring students.
A number of factors contributed to our initiative, but one of the main drivers was that it was noticed by The University of Manchester that certain groups of graduates did not do so well after graduation in career progression. In particular we noticed that females seemed to struggle a bit more.
There were numerous discussions on how we could support this group and also other minority groups, and the idea was born of a mentoring programme that could focus on a specific group of students. What support would they need and how could we best provide this?
Our corporate partner mentor programme is working with individual organisations on specialised and tailored programmes, making sure we target and match student groups and align this with the goals of the organisation.
Historically such programmes have focused on the benefits for both the mentee and mentor. However, our programme aims to show how additional stakeholders such as companies and the university itself can really benefit.
The benefits for the mentee are well established. It can help them increase their confidence, set and achieve goals, develop connections, and provide guidance and inspiration. For the mentor it can improve communication and management skills, create a sense of making a difference, prompt reflection and possibly a change in behaviour, and also help them develop their own personal goals.
Besides the individual mentor and mentee, other stakeholders can also benefit. For a university a corporate mentoring programme supports and develops students and provides them with access to professionals early in their careers. It also strengthens the university’s relations with external companies, giving both parties another area for cooperation and developing relationships beyond research and teaching.
We believe our programme is unique in that it benefits all these different stakeholders, while we also focus on working in alignment with an external organisation’s interest, strategy and goals.
In the past many corporations’ goals have been to maximise shareholder value and profit.
Today most companies have other items very high up on the agenda such as explicit Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals which include access to education, diversity and inclusion, community initiatives, empowering minority groups, good health and wellbeing, gender equality, and volunteering.
When an organisation engages with our programme this will align and meet many of its CSR goals and priorities. It will also shed a positive light on the organisation, showing they are willing and want to invest in their own people too.
The benefits for the organisation are substantial. Mentoring of students shows engagement with leadership development, increased knowledge share, development of emotional intelligence, improved culture/transfer of culture and, perhaps most importantly, direct access to a potential talent pool for recruitment.
Bringing this all together, this relationship between mentees (students), mentors (employees), the institution (the university) and organisations (the companies) provides clear and explicit benefits for each stakeholder, aligning with set goals and strategies.
We have so far engaged with three separate organisations from different sectors, all with a presence in Manchester but also with a global business model. Each organisation has engaged with different programmes, age groups and demographics in undergraduate and masters programmes.
As expected, we have more mentees wanting mentors than we can provide at the moment. As such we are looking at ways of trying to review how we can initially assist more mentees, the majority of whom are women.
We have so far engaged with BNY Mellon, Siemens and PageGroup, all of which have a presence in Manchester but also have global business models. Each organisation has also provided both female and male mentors who come from all levels of seniority and background. They provide a diverse range of experiences which also helps ensure that suitable matches can be achieved.