Mentoring: Welcome to Mentor City
MentorCity is more of a town than a city, but it is growing fast. And even after it becomes home to millions of people, MentorCity will still have a certain small town charm and warmth. After all, meeting neighbours and making friends is what MentorCity is all about.
If you’ve never been to MentorCity, you owe yourself a visit. There is no cost to access it. You don’t have to buy a ticket or fill up your gas tank. Just sit yourself down, pull up a keyboard and enter www.MentorCity.com.
From there, it won’t take more than a few minutes to fill out your profile. You can even import an existing profile from Linked In. Before you know it, you’ll be on a road that leads to wherever you need it to take you.
For more than 13 years, MentorCity founder Shawn Mintz worked in the non-profit sector for a service provider agency helping newcomers, so he’s very familiar with the concept of mentoring and appreciates the value it can offer to someone who is new to Canada.
The premise is that throughout your life and career, there are times when you can benefit from the advice, guidance and support of a mentor. There are also times when you can share your expertise and experiences to guide mentees in the right direction. MentorCity creates a mentoring community that enables you to engage in a series of give-and-take relationships.
Mintz says, “We’ve revised MentorCity a lot to make it so simple that everyone can use it. The system takes away any kind of awkwardness. It’s a compliment to what’s already there on Linked In. But while Linked In is a big networking site – this is a big mentoring site – and I feel that mentoring is very private. So it’s not telling everyone that this person is mentoring that person. You actually establish relationship pages that are kind of like a mentoring diary.”
MentorCity was created to resemble how real life mentoring happens. For example, when you are looking to start or restart your career, you would typically go to someone who works in your field and ask them for advice. If you don’t have anyone in your network that you can talk to, it can get tricky, because it’s hard to approach a total stranger. That’s where MentorCity actually has a bit of an advantage over real life. Everybody at Mentor City is open to the concept of mentoring. And whether you signed up in order to get help or so that you can help someone else – part of the deal at Mentor City is that other people can come to you for advice! You are both a mentor and a mentee.
A Guided Tour of Mentor City
“The first thing that everybody does is completes a profile,” Mintz explains, “and then they can search for a mentor. When you find someone who looks promising, you can invite him or her to a 15 minute meeting…have the 15 minute meeting and do the initial evaluation. And then establish a formal or an informal relationship.
“Afterwards, you complete a final evaluation – and you receive invitations to become a mentor throughout the process. So everybody who signs on the site is both a mentor and a mentee.
“Somebody with a few years working in a certain field can look for someone they can just relate to who has lots of experience. Conversely – an executive could connect with a 20 something who could teach them all about social media and stuff.”
Whether you’ve just started your career, whether you’re recently retired, everybody has something to share. Employers like the fact that it’s not for one specific group. Not just for newcomers, MentorCity works for anyone 20 years old onward who’s looking for direction.
Mentoring can be done in person – or over voip (Skype) or via text chat – so you fill out the formats that would suit you. So you’d be matched based on that too be matched with somebody who’s comfortable talking to you the same way that you want to talk to them.
Building a Profile
Before you can be mentored or mentor someone else, you have to fill in your profile. You can import your profile and photo from Linked In or create a profile unique to MentorCity. In addition to your professional profile, experience and education, the MentorCity profile has several unique elements, like the language component. If you feel confident about your ability to communicate in Spanish – you can conduct a mentoring relationship in Spanish. You can add as many languages as you speak.
There’s also the listing of your soft skills. I have always talked about soft skills as an important component of any job search. Soft skills adds a lot of magic to the site. It has aspects of online dating. You give your own feedback about your perception of your ability to do things like give and receive feedback, leadership skills, teamwork and networking skills.
The words you choose to describe yourself – make it easier for the mentee to decide on the mentor. If the character traits listed appeal to you, then that Mentor may be more suitable than another, whose priorities are very different. What the system does is recommends mentors from weaknesses to strengths. So if you have weak presentation skills, then a mentor with good presentation skills is more likely to be recommended.
When you find someone, you can choose between a formal or informal relationship. Informal relationships tend to be less time consuming – you may even decide that the initial 15 minute meeting was enough, or you can meet just once a month. You might have the first meeting face to face and the rest of the time, do it by phone or through text messaging. You create the relationship you need.
“Private companies that I’m working for have the option of customizing MentorCity for their workforce,” says Mintz. “There are also options to customize MentorCity to reflect your organization’s brand and to establish a mentoring community for your employees, alumni, members, and/or customers.”
MentorCity is a growing community – and you can be a part of it whether you live in Toronto, Goose Bay, Labrador or in Syria or the Philippines. The future you want is out there. MentorCity can help you move in on it and make it your own. Mayor Mintz is ready to give you the keys to the city.