IxDA Toronto recently had a very successful event centred around
creating a culture of mentorship in our local community. Since it went
so well, we thought we'd share our experiences with everyone else... so
you can host your own!
The event was based on the model of a speed dating night, except with
the goal of establishing mentoring relationships instead of romantic
The idea was for 15 potential mentees and 15 potential mentors to meet
at a pub, where we'd reserved a private room. We set up 15 small tables
around the outside of the room. Mentors each chose a table and stayed
there for the rest of the night.
Mentees chose a table with a mentor to start. They then had 5 minutes to
talk with the mentor about their background and interests, and what they
were looking for in a mentoring relationship.
After 4 minutes we gave a "1 minute warning". Then at the end of 5
minutes, mentees picked up and moved to the next mentor. Aaaand...
things repeated 15 times.
We gave mentors checklists of mentee names and vice versa. As they met
each other, they were instructed to check off anyone who they would be
interested in having as their mentee / mentor.
At the end of the night we collected everyone's sheets, and created a
huge spreadsheet of who matched whom. Our next step is to email people
to tell them the name and contact information of those they matched.
>From there, they can pursue a relationship as they like.
After calculating the matches, it turned out that every mentor had at
least one mentee match, and every mentee but one had a mentor match.
(The one without a match was looking for something very specific, so I
don't think she'll be that surprised that she didn't match anyone.)
Overall, the night was a huge success. People said at the end that they
had a ton of fun, and really appreciated meeting so many people. We got
a lot of thank you notes from attendees, which was awesome.
If anyone would like to repeat this locally, GO FOR IT! It's a pretty
simple event - once you get the people in the room, you can let the
event run itself. The hardest thing is finding people to be mentors.
Asking and explaining the value of mentorship to our community goes a
long way though. We actually ended up with a surplus of mentors the
night of the event... albeit after some hard recruitment work :)
If you're a local leader, I posted a much more detailed summary,
including some tips, on the Local Leaders' Basecamp. I'm happy to send
it to anyone else who wants it too -- just mail me off-list!
Meredith & Matt
Co-Coordinators, IxDA Toronto
P.S. One of my colleagues, who was a mentor the night of the event,
recently had a friend ask her, "So I hear you were at a speed dating
night the other night?" The person thought we were actually trying to
hook UX people up romantically. Ooops :)