Make mentoring better

I’ve been in your shoes. You have a community that needs help. You have people that WANT to help. If only you could have a platform to bring them all together….WAHLA!


If your university or organization launched a mentorship program, you probably recognized that it’s not quite that easy. Cultivating an effective mentor-mentee relationship IS REALLY, REALLY….REALLY hard. But with a network of thousands of alumni (if not hundreds of thousand) shouldn’t it be easier? You’ve got a new shiny portal that ready to solve this, right?

Let’s put on our psychologist hat for a moment. As humans (myself included) we are wired for short cuts. So we do the same thing, follow the same habits, and live our lives as efficiently as possible. To change our behavior, we improve the ease of new habit creation and receive gratification from its benefits.

Change is hard

I caught a recent episode of the Hidden Brain podcast that you should check out on this very challenge.

One of the parts that stuck with me was addressing the difficulties of changing behavior. As discussed by Wendy Wood, a professor at University of Southern California, habits are mental associations.

“When we repeat an action over and over again in a given context and then get a reward when you do that, you are learning very slowly and incrementally to associate that context with that behavior,”

If you listen to the episode, you will even hear her own experiences trying to create better fitness habits. She admitted that, to get herself to do so, she had to want to create a habit and make it as easy as possible for that habit to form. In this case, it meant wearing her running clothes to bed (not gonna lie, I am now stealing this idea). And the reward? She felt good, had time to make breakfast with her kids, and now loses the 8 pm guilt she used to feel for another run missed.

So what does all of this have to do with running an effective mentorship program?

Many universities have opted for a portal to help their students and alumni engage. And we see the value in this proposition.

If you are an alumni engagement leader, its great. Let the technology do the work for you. How hard is it for someone to see your email, create an account, and commit to supporting a student or fellow alum? For 2-3% it’s not too much to ask. They might already be coming on campus, volunteering their time to coordinate socials, or mentoring through programs. As for the rest of us, we are busy. We have other habits. And we live our lives just the same as before this initiative was launched.

Maybe another 5-10% of us, we have time to create an account, but the habit to check in is not yet formed. The change was bigger than the benefit.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to help. We just need it to be easier.

Easy = Engagement

So is your mentorship program lacking engagement? Whether it is an e-mentor program, or regional programs on campus…the challenges are universal.

As you review your alumni volunteering strategies ask yourself, is the first ask simply, too much? Are there more alumni who want makes an impact on your network, but lack the ease to do it on their time. And what if they can’t? Is there anxiety around saying “No?” Are you making it as easy as possible for alumni to make an impact?

That’s where Protopia comes in.

Your mentoring programs? Don’t cut them, but augment them. Create more alumni that are READY to mentor because they have created a habit of helping, and received the rewards for their efforts.

Not sure how? Let’s chat.

Because we think your alumni deserve to be happy.

Free webinar: How Emory University optimizes its alumni engagement funnelView now