Celebrating alumni mentorship

The University is celebrating a decade of its Alumni as Mentors programme.

Group of 50 people smiling up at the camera
On Wednesday 21 September, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington celebrated a decade of its Alumni as Mentors programme, which connects alumni who want to share their skills with students in their final year of study who want expert help to set goals for their future.

The event also included the inaugural prizegiving for the programme, with exceptional mentors and mentees acknowledged.

Senior Advisor—Employability, User Experience and Research Dr Anna Greenhow is the current coordinator of the programme. In her speech, she noted, “Every year, I see and hear the value and impact that the partnerships have on both mentees and mentors. Right from the start of my four years as coordinator, it was clear to me that this is a very special community of supportive and engaged mentors and students both locally and internationally.”

This may explain why one-third of all mentors who are part of the programme return each year.

Victoria University of Wellington was the first university in New Zealand to offer this type of programme. The mentors and their students are matched by the programme coordinator, using a form that is designed to match the values, interests, and career aspirations of those who have applied. In the programmes’ first year in 2013, just 30 pairs were matched—in the 2022 intake, more than 150 pairs were matched.

Each intake of the programme begins with a training for both mentors and mentees. They then work together for six months, with the student mentee responsible for setting the direction and pace of the partnership.

There were six prizes given at the ceremony—two for outstanding mentees, two for outstanding mentors, and two other awards. The mentees honoured were Ollie Cox and Imogen McGill; while the mentors were David von Dadelszen, and Nancy Ford.

A community commitment award was given to Richard London, who became an alumni mentor in 2014. As well as mentoring students himself, he also acted as a ‘mentor of mentors’ by initiating a group of mentors at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The mentor who nominated him explained, “he got us together as a group and was very proactive in sharing his wisdom and ideas, organising training, and continuing to be supportive of those mentoring.”

Mentor Jack Yan received an award for longstanding commitment—he has been involved in the programme since it began. In Jack’s speech, he noted that his involvement has been personally rewarding from him. “I think we all hope that every generation does better than the last, and it has truly been a privilege to be a part of this programme. Every time I mentor, I have the chance to gain perspective on my own career.”

Former Careers Service Manager, Liz Medford, who began the programme and was at the event, remarked, “I think the success of the programme is owed to the fact that the relationships built are truly win-win.”

The University’s Alumni and Development and Careers and Employment teams are hoping to grow the programme using mentoring software that was used successfully this year. They aim to launch a new Alumni Mentoring Network by the end of the year, which expands the type of mentoring available to students and alumni.

Prospective and current mentors and mentees can express interest in next year’s programme using this form, to receive notification when applications open in Trimester 1, 2023.