03-12-2018 01:25 PM - edited 07-08-2019 05:00 PM
03-12-2018 01:25 PM - edited 07-08-2019 05:00 PM
<Updated as of 8th July 2019>
Thanks everyone for your interest in the Community Mentors Program! As you know, a big part about mentorship is about the fit - that is why we've launched the Community Mentors mobile app so that you're in the driver's seat of your own mentorship journey.
Here are answers to some of the top questions we get about the program - this will help provide additional clarity around the program, what to expect etc. We'll also be adding to this list when we see more of specific questions coming up. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have additional questions that you don't see in the list. Thanks!
Q: What is this program about, anyway?
A: The Community Mentors Program aims to boost diversity and inclusion in the tech industry through mentorship programs geared at enabling people from diverse backgrounds – women, people of color, minorities, LGBT and those with special abilities – to find a mentor with specific technical specializations that can help them navigate the path to pursuing or exceling in technical careers. It is open to the public, and is free to join as long as you're a registered member of the Diversity and Tech community. Caveat: Getting a mentor is a privilege, not a right - It's a wonderful opportunity to have someone kind and generous enough to be willing to spend their valuable time, energy and resources on you. Demanding to have a mentor/mentee matched to you 1) does not work, and 2) simply demonstrates a poor attitude on your part. The onus is on you to reach out to potential mentors on the platform, share your goals + intended outcomes of the mentorship, and respectfully ask if they would be willing to mentor you. Think about what you would bring to the table as well. There has to be a right fit, and we trust that you understand this concept, too.
Q: When will I be matched with a mentor/mentee?
A: As an effective mentoring relationship hinges heavily on a good fit, we encourage you to read through all the mentors' profiles and personal story to see if it would be a good match. For mentees especially, it helps when you are descriptive in your goals/outcomes in your profile before you hit the "Request Mentorship" button. Do also provide more details on the specific help/mentoring topic that you are interested in. For example, someone who simply types "I want someone to help me in my career", or "I need training" is not going to be able to find a good mentor match as the listed goals are too vague. We encourage applicants to be thoughtful and focused about what they are looking for in order to get the best possible experience and learning from this program. Spend some time building up a solid personal story and profile - it'll be worth it!
Q: How long does each mentorship cycle run for?
A: Each initial mentorship cycle runs for 30 days, and can be extended twice up to an additional 60 days, making it a minimum of one month and maximum of three months total. After the three months have passed, mentors/mentees can decide if they want to continue the mentoring relationship on their own, at their own pace and cadence, or if they wish to politely end the mentoring relationship. Whatever the decision, remember that it's nothing personal - there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to find other mentors/mentees to continue learning and growing. Wish each other well, and keep moving forward! For mentors - you can have up to five active mentees at any time. Same for mentees - you can have up to five active mentorships at any given time. This ensures that you have enough bandwidth and focus in order to get value from your mentorship.
Q: OK, I'm interested! How do I join the Community Mentors platform?
A: There is an easy 5-step process to explain how the flow works:
Step 1: Download the app by typing "Tribute" in either the Apple app store (for iOS users), or Google Play store (for Android users)
Step 2: Log in with your Microsoft Tech Community account credentials. If you don't have one yet, create an account for free - the app will redirect you to our page to sign up!
Step 3: Set up your profile with your personal story, skills, life experiences and don't forget to upload a photo! It makes your profile look that much more "human" :)
Step 4: Click "Discover" to find mentors in your time zone!
Step 5: Find a mentor profile you like, and click "Request Mentorship". Once your mentor accepts, a chat window will open and you can both connect instantly! If your desired mentor declines or does not have the bandwidth, keep searching - there are plenty of other mentors on our platform :)
Q: Will I be able to meet up with my mentor/mentee in person?
A: The beauty of this program is that it is 100% global, and aims to allow for knowledge transfer and mentoring across borders. Many mentors/mentees leverage Skype and other free VoiP call methods to communicate for their mentoring sessions. It's amazing to see people connect with each other from Australia to Algeria, Kenya to Kazakhstan, Peru to Pakistan and more - a big part about Diversity and Inclusion is learning how to work with someone from a different socio-cultural background from you, and learning from your unique worldview. Most mentoring relationships via the app will be remote, unless you're fortunate enough to find one in your area! If you are only looking for in-person mentoring, you may wish to consider other local mentoring programs in your area, or large-scale movements such as the Million Women Mentors program that allows you to search for mentors in your area by zip code. These programs may better suit your needs. Have an open mind, and you will be surprised by how much you will learn!
Q: I'm a mentor - is there any way for me to network and exchange ideas or best practices with other Community Mentors Program mentors so we can better help our mentees?
A: Yes! If you're a Community Mentor who has completed at least one mentorship and would like to join our private Community Mentors Circle on Teams, please drop us an email here.
Q: My mentee started the chat, but subsequently became unresponsive - what should I do?
A: If you've made reasonable attempts to reach your mentee and schedule time for mentoring syncs but have not heard back after at least two weeks, please DM us and we will contact the mentee to see if he/she/they are still interested. Sometimes they might have missed the notification alert! If they continue to be unresponsive, click "End Mentorship" and that will free up your space for a new and hopefully better engaged mentee!
Q: Will this mentorship program enable me get a job at XYZ Tech Company?
A: While this program aims to help people learn more about technical specializations and get mentorship about how to focus on their career goals when pursing a technical role, it does not guarantee that you will be able to find a job in a specific company or organization. This is not a recruitment site/opportunity. Finding a job still depends on your level of expertise, fit with the organization, networking contacts to help you uncover career opportunities and so on. In other words, it's very much dependent on YOU!
Q: Will my mentor be able to train me on technical skills?
A: While most of our mentors are technical experts with many years of domain expertise in their area of specialization, mentoring is not the same as technical training or coaching. If you're simply looking to ramp up on a certain technology, we recommend that you look into signing up for training courses in your country, on the Microsoft Tech Academy or the many Microsoft Certification programs available instead. You can learn more about the difference between training/coaching/managing as opposed to mentoring in our Treehouse Mentoring video that will be released shortly. This is also a great article to refer to.
Q: I want to become an MVP / build status to maintain my MVP award. Does being a Community Mentors Program mentor count as community involvement?
A: Yes, mentorship is a recognized contribution category towards the MVP Award program. Double win! Reach out to your Community Program Manager (CPM) if you have questions on how to submit proof of mentorship activity.
Q: I'm only looking for mentoring in public speaking skills as I aspire to become a speaker at a tech conference in future. Who should I contact?
A: If you're specifically looking for mentoring on public speaking skills, one of our Microsoft Valued Professionals (MVPs) Alex Yates in the U.K and his team runs an awesome mentorship group called Speaking Mentors which you can apply to and connect with someone in the mentoring circle. We highly recommend checking it out!
Again, thanks everyone for your interest and participation! We hope everyone will get the opportunity to learn and connect with other IT Pros / aspiring IT Pros like yourselves around the world, and drive more diversity and inclusion in the tech industry!