Learn the Basics about Peer Mentoring Programs
Was there a time in which you needed an extra nudge from someone your own age to help you along? What about in college or even in your current career? Were there instances in which you could have used some guidance or support?
Was this from someone who had more experience than you?
The majority of people can answer ‘yes’ to these questions. Getting help from someone you can relate to has many benefits. Most people can use this type of support at some point in their lives.
Described above is peer mentoring.
What is peer mentoring?
Peer mentoring connects two people of like age and that have related interests and goals. They are then matched based on need. This type of mentoring is driven by skill and/or career-building.
It allows for chances to help people move up in their schooling or career.
Peer mentoring is quite different from typical mentoring. An example of a traditional type is Big Brothers Big Sisters. This is where an adult matches up with a child in order to spend time with him or her.
The goal is to be a positive role model in their life.
Peer mentors and mentees will develop their mentoring relationships. This can occur one-on-one or in a small group. There are a lot of chances for children and college-aged adults to engage in peer mentoring experiences.
Adults can use it as a chance to increase skills and grow in their careers. Peer mentoring can be beneficial to everyone.
What is the role of a peer mentor?
The peer mentor should get to know and connect with their mentee on a deep level. They should be available to assist in the needs and goals that the mentee identifies.
The peer who is mentoring should have more experience than the mentee. This can be helpful in the areas they are supporting him/her in.
Peer mentoring relationships are important. They are created when peer mentors have the qualities that mentees trust and value. The mentor should show the mentee that they are there to help bring them success.
They also should be able to assist them in achieving a goal. This is important in establishing a mentoring relationship.
A peer mentoring program can even train a mentee to be a mentor himself or herself later on. The mentee will gather knowledge and exposure to the process. Then they may be ready to become a peer mentor themself.
To be successful, mentoring programs need mentors and mentees who are willing to go above and beyond. Programs also need those who show commitment.
What skills do you need to be a peer mentor?
According to the Cengage web site, responsibilities and skills of a mentoring peer include:
- Offer relevant experience and learning skills
- Employ good interpersonal/communication skills
- Desire to help and develop new students
- Display an open-mind and flexible positive attitude
- Dedicate adequate time and willingness to develop relationships
- Respect the confidentiality of the new students
- Follow through on important tasks
- Seek feedback on the effectiveness of their mentoring
Is peer mentoring effective?
Yes, research shows that various types of peer mentoring are effective. How useful peer mentoring is depends on:
- the quality of the program in which it was created
- how reliable mentors are with their mentees
- how consistent the peer mentors are
- how involved each person is
- the supervision and evaluation
There should be rules for mentors and their partners to follow. This will ensure the relationship remains positive and effective.
What are the types of peer mentoring programs?
Peer mentoring can be achieved with elementary school students. It also can with students in graduate school and beyond with those in the workplace.
Take a look at these specific peer mentorship examples:
- An elementary student is about to end their fifth-grade year and move up to middle school. She may benefit from the pros of a peer mentor that is already at her middle school. The older student can assist with the transition by teaching her about the new school.
This will hopefully help her self-esteem in regards to the big changes coming. Their mentoring relationship may even change into a friendship. It may also even help the younger student have more confidence when she enters school on the first day back.
- A young high school student is enrolled in a peer mentoring program through the school. He is wanting support with the steps needed to graduate. He also wants help searching for and applying to colleges.Teachers will match him to an older high schooler. This student has already gone through the testing and college admission process. The teachers will supervise the teens and guide them through the peer mentoring relationship.
- Undergraduate students and transfer students at universities may need help with college life. Choosing courses along with activities to get involved with and studying for exams can be difficult. Getting used to the culture of the school and handling challenges that come along as they work toward their degree are all roles that peer mentors can take on.Being involved in mentoring programs can also assist students in finding their own student identity and boosting self-esteem. This also is good for student mentors to be able to give back.
- Adult students in graduate school may also benefit from peer mentoring. Student mentees often seek mentors who can support them throughout their graduate school years. This can be done by helping new admissions transition smoothly.Mentors can help with learning about the graduate department the mentee is in. They can even coach them through research papers, projects, and meeting academic goals.
- Mentoring relationships can also occur in the workplace among adults. Employees benefit from quality mentorship when they are working on career development. Also, when they need advice from successful colleagues or are wanting assistance on how to increase performance and/or leadership in the workplace.
- Group mentoring is also an option. The mentor can take on more than one individual who is interested in being mentored for the same reason.
- The healthcare and education fields often develop and use mentoring programs.
An example of an existing peer mentoring program that is related to healthcare is the National Association of Health Services Executives.
According to their website, “The NAHSE mentorship program was developed to provide an organized resource for minority healthcare leaders to coach and guide each other in the field of healthcare. It is designed to provide a vehicle for minorities to effectively participate in the design, direction, and delivery of quality health care to all people.”
An example of an existing peer mentoring that is related to education is from Wayland High in Massachusetts.
They say “The purpose of the Peer Mentor program is to provide support for 9th graders and transfer students in their transition to the high school. The peer mentors are juniors and seniors who have shown an interest in and capacity for helping others. The program has been up and running at Wayland High School for over fifteen years.”
Even teachers can get involved in mentoring relationships by helping brand new teachers.
How is a peer mentoring program developed within a school or workplace?
Any school, university, or place of employment can develop a peer mentorship program. Peer mentoring needs to take place under supervision. This can done by a principal, a manager or supervisor, or academic professor or supervisor.
This person’s role includes:
- matching up mentors with the person he or she will be mentoring
- leading the first meeting
- helping by modeling
- helping with the planning process
- giving feedback and/or evaluations to chosen mentors
Once the program is in place, it can be monitored by the person running the program. This person will also be in charge of recruiting, making sure objectives are met, and that retention is upheld.
Peer mentoring has many benefits to those participants who commit to the program. Many want to see progress and a positive impact on their life. They will gain great skills from a mentoring program.
Are you a parent and looking for a program for your primary school student? Or are you a teacher who wants to start a program on the high school level?
There are options and resources out there for you. Check with your school system and see if they already have a program in place. If not, look into bringing people together to develop your own.
Are you in college or graduate school? Your university may already offer a peer-to-peer mentoring program.
Are you job-hunting? Or already have a solid career? Choose to work closely with a peer in order to develop skills and grow as an employee.
Want to learn more about mentoring? Check out the website Wayahead or download their app!