Scaling Up a Homegrown Mentoring Solution

How McMaster University Brought the Knowledge and Expertise of Its Alumni to the Masses

McMaster’s homegrown mentoring system MentorLinks wasn’t working. “We were asking alumni to sign up through a clunky interface” says Anne-Marie Middel, Assoc. Director, Alumni Advancement. “Alumni would sign up and then rarely hear anything back. Matching mentors and mentees manually worked for niche programs, but we weren’t able to address mentoring interests on a broader scale. 

McMaster University Mentoring Platform

“We love that it's so searchable and visually appealing, and the reporting that we receive gives us insight into the needs of mentees, as well as valuable career information for our alumni.”

As the Alumni Advancement and Student Success offices worked jointly to design a new in-house mentoring program, “it became clear that supporting the needs of students and alumni, especially alumni-to-alumni mentoring, would be really time and labor intensive” says Middel. “When we learned about Firsthand, we realized that we didn’t have to recreate the wheel. We could deliver a broad-based mentoring offering where alumni participated on their own terms. 

“We were thrilled with the response from alumni.”

 “For our alumni, Firsthand’s Alumni Mentoring Platform was an easy sell,” says Middel. “It was very customizable. Alumni could set the parameters for how they wanted to give back.” Within two months of launching, 500 McMaster alumni had self-registered and completed mentor profiles. “We liked that Firsthand made it so easy for mentors and mentees to register,” she adds. In 1.5 years, McMaster’s platform has created nearly 500 mentoring pairs. “Paying for career coaches to cover that sort of demand would have been prohibitively expensive,” explains Middel. “The webinars, and platform overall, have been a great complement to our traditional programming - the data on mentoring topics has helped inform our other offerings.”




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