How we match mentors with mentees
In general, we try to match mentees with mentors who are one grade above and who work in a (broadly) similar field. It is often recommended to work with a mentor about 5 years ahead of you in the career path you are interested in.
Unless requested otherwise, we only take the following preferences into account when matching:
- College/Support Group
- Location ( Central Area, Easter Bush, King’s Buildings, Little France, Western General)
When matching, a small team of staff from the Institute for Academic Development and University HR Services - Learning and Development use the online forms to match mentors/mentees against the goals and criteria that each mentee/mentor has submitted. We also involve ‘mentoring champions’ with more knowledge of particular departments who can spot any potential mismatches, like pairing someone with their line manager.
After each provisional match is made only the mentee will be notified via email. They will be given the provisional mentor's name, gender, College/Support Group, School/Department, Location, Web link and the brief description of the mentor’s career as outline in their application form. Based on this information they are given the choice of accepting or declining the provisional match by a specific date. If they decline the match they are returned to the pool of unmatched participants and we try to match them again. If they accept the match, an email is sent to both the mentor and the mentee to inform both individuals of the proposed match. At this stage the mentor is asked to contact the mentee to organise the first meeting.
This is the first point that the mentor has been made aware of the match and they are given information on the no fault finishing clause. If going forward either believe the match is not suitable, they can decline the match at this time.
Difficulties finding a match
It isn’t always easy to find a match. Practical factors which influence the matching process include:
- There is a limited pool of mentors, particularly at more senior grades. Another reason why we match one grade up is to ensure that there are still mentors available for mentees on senior grades.
- There tends to be fewer mentors than mentees. There is often an imbalance of applicants to the programme. For example, a large pool of mentors from humanities and social science but fewer mentees in this area; or a large pool of mentors at grade 8 and a pool of mentees at grade 8 and 9.
- The University is a large and diverse organisation. There might not be a mentee or mentor with a similar background to you who signed up for the scheme.
As a result of these factors, we may propose a match which may not be exactly what you were looking for. However, we would encourage you to try a less obvious partnership. Some research (Clutterbuck 1998) also suggests that working with someone who is different to you in terms of experience and personality can result in a greater learning experience.
Participants have shared that a real highlight of the scheme is the possibility to be matched outside of their School/College. However, if the mentee is looking for specific information related to an external funder or an internal process within their School the mentor may need to direct them to a more relevant contact (e.g. line manager).
A good mentor should be empathetic, empowering and a good listener - you could find a valuable mentor in a very different part of the university than you expected.
What to include in your application
Things you can include in your application, to help with the process include:
- Let us know the names of any people you would particularly like to be matched with (if you know of any)
- Provide us with any key requirements/ topics. It is also useful to know how you would prioritise these. E.g. is it more important to have a female mentor than a mentor from a different department or vice versa
- Please explain specialist areas as simply as possible – we don’t have knowledge of the finer details of every discipline or work area of the university.
- If you do turn down a potential match, please provide some feedback (this is confidential) about why as this really helps us to find someone more suitable.