So I have had this idea for a while that I would like to test: Imagine a hybrid of your professional profile on LinkedIn with a professional ‘dating-site’ that allows you to tick some boxes of what characteristics you are looking for, finds your matches and gives you the choice to swipe those who’s profiles you find most interesting. In other words, an online space for individuals to professionally matchmaker with a mentor or mentee.
Mentorship is a relation in which a more knowledgeable person guides or advice someone with less experience. Often we think of an older person mentoring a younger one, for example on how to get into the labour market by networking and preparing for job interviews, or how to get promoted and move up in seniority. Mentorship could also be – in my line of work – a local activist advising a European policy-maker about the situation on the ground, or a tech-savvy youngster advising an older person how to better make use of technology and social media in their work. Other mentorship relations could serve to advice on experiences of working in environments that are inter-cultural or male dominated, or on how to move from one sector to another.
An online platform would allow up-scaling of great mentoring networks such as the one by the European Women’s Lobby, that empowered female candidates from ethnic minorities ahead of the elections to the European Parliament in 2014. Mentors programmes are commonly offered by big corporate businesses to their employees to develop their profession and career. The non-profit sector on the other hand, lack those resources as we often are fairly small organisations with little funding.
I truly believe that everyone has experiences and skills to both learn and share. I also believe that connecting with just one individual may inspire you to develop and make a difference, more than many costly career trainings and coaches can. When I worked as a youth leader in my mid-20s I learned what a difference it made to reassure one teenager with low self-esteem that he is perfect the way he is, and that she can become whatever she wants. Years later I came to be a trade union representative at my work place. This experience thought me once again how many of my colleagues underestimated their achievements and skills, and what a difference it made to guide them individually on how they could better promote themselves. I myself have had a very helpful mentor for several years that advised me on how to better handle frustrations at work and improve my professional relations.
An online platform could match individuals, on a local level as well as globally. Professional connections could be made between people that otherwise would not meet, for example a human rights defender in Moldova might find invaluable inspiration from a mentor in South Africa. A platform could provide guidance on how to set up a mentorship relation in an ethical and respectful way; whether during a limited time period, via video calls or meeting in real life. It could also include features such as a system of endorsements, similar to the way Airbnb guests and hosts review each other. Other add-on features could for example be inspired by Women in Diplomacy, a podcast offering mentorship resources as a way to empower young women who wants to make a career in foreign policy.
Do you think my idea sounds interesting? Does it spark your thought? Please get in touch with me, I would be happy to discuss and develop it further.