PINs Workshop: Taking Your Mentoring to the Next Level

Mentoring is a simple idea that helps immigrants build their professional networks, improve their job search strategies and familiarize them with Canadian workplace culture. On January 24, 2014, Monica Anne Brennan from The Mentoring Partnership (TMP) and Debroy Chan from JVS Toronto spoke to our PINs leaders and partners about mentoring, its benefits, types and best practices. The event was hosted by PINs partner Thorncliffe Neighborhood Office (TNO) and attended by 14 PINs association leaders and 4 partners, who came together to learn about setting up and improving their own mentoring programs.

Guest Speakers:

Monica Anne Brennan – Director, The Mentoring Partnership (TMP)

To begin, Monica spoke about how the Mentoring Partnership works. Occupation specific matches, between mentors and mentees, help skilled immigrant mentees reconnect with their profession in Canada. It is as a transformational process where both the mentee and mentor gain equally from participating in the program.

TMP has been in existence for over 10 years, and has helped match over 10,000 mentees since 2004. Some program highlights include:

  • 93% mentees better understood the Canadian work environment
  • 91% of mentees said they were better prepared for employment in their profession
  • 94% of mentors were better able to motivate, coach and develop people
  • 96% better understood the challenges and barriers faced by skilled immigrants
  • 89% mentors said they were more likely to interview and/or hire skilled immigrants

For those associations interested in starting a mentoring program, Monica identified the following building blocks to consider:

  • What is the goal of the mentoring program?
  • Why is mentoring the solution to the challenge or barrier identified?
  • Who are your potential mentees? Where will you find them?
  • Who are your potential mentors? Where will you find them?
  • What type of mentoring (group mentoring or one-on-one) is the best solution for your program?

Monica also highlighted lessons learned from running the TMP program over the past few years. She emphasized that it is important to consider:

  1. The value of partnerships: make connections with employers and service providers to find mentors, mentees and coaches for your program
  2. The value and support for mentors: Providing mentors with opportunities to develop their own skills and encourage them to continue in the program
  3. Evaluation: what works and what doesn’t? Be flexible with the format and make changes accordingly
  4. Balancing growth: Ensure that there is a balance with the number of mentors and mentees, so neither side has to wait too long for a match

Debroy Chan – Newcomer Services and Community Lead, JVS Toronto

With experience from working with different forms of mentoring, Debroy highlighted the distinction between group mentoring and one-one-one mentoring. Group mentoring is a type of mentoring where one mentor is assigned to a group of 3-6 mentees and they meet in a group setting.

Group mentoring has its advantages and disadvantages, some of which are:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Maximizes limited resources available to associations
  • Less personal than one-one-one mentoring
  • Mentees can share their experience with their mentor and with each other, enhancing their knowledge
  • Confidentiality of one’s experience can be an issue
  • It broadens the mentees’ professional network
  • Group dynamics may not suit everyone and inhibit the overall experience
  •  The group setting alleviates the fear of being alone among individual mentees
  • Scheduling can be an issue and mentees may be competing for mentor’s time

When sharing his own experiences running several mentoring programs, Debroy emphasized the following points to consider when using the group mentoring model for any organization:

  • The duration of the program is very important, as mentees may not be committed for longer cycles
  • Proper screening of mentors and mentees before matching them enhances the experience by ensuring that the participants are compatible with each other
  • Preparation of mentors and mentees is key. Providing both groups with helpful topics or resources pre-meetings can be beneficial
  • Always be prepared to provide additional support to mentors or mentees