30 Minute Mentors: Connecting Young Alumni to Students

There is more than one way that alumni/ae can give back. But in 30 minutes?! Well, at the University of Michigan Alumni Association, that is certainly the case with their 30 Minute Mentor Program, which provides current students the chance to meet with alumni who work in a variety of industries.

Although originally just an on-campus affair, the 30 Minute Mentors program has expanded this year to include virtual meetings meetings through FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts. We caught up with Ayanna McConnell, Manager of Student and Diversity Initiatives at the University of Michigan Alumni Association, who explained that “with programs like 30 Minute Mentors, we are really trying to provide options for younger alumni to give back to the University, regardless of where they are.”  Via requests from social sources like LinkedIn, the alumni association received a global group of over 150 alumni volunteers. The required volunteer form prompted these alumni to explain what they most valued from their Michigan experience and what they wish they knew when they were there — insights that are invaluable for an advancement team.

With clear expectations in place, both alumni and students expressed their feedback in a survey following the program’s first year going virtual. From the survey, it was found that 100% of the students found it easy to contact their mentor and that they thought the “30 minute timeline was ideal” — hoping to have the program run monthly with more mentors. Alumni also expressed their enthusiasm, with one alumnus stating that, “We have so many alumni working in social justice so I want to increase opportunities for kids who were in the same boat as mine. I was amazingly matched perfectly with a student who not only was interested in nonprofits, but also my specific niche.”

Other University of Michigan campuses, such as the alumni office at Dearborn, are picking up the program as well. As mentioned by Ayanna, “the low-cost option of hosting virtual networking events like these are capable of having tremendous impact.”

Has your institution trailed similar initiatives? Learn in our webinar “Google Hangouts for Advancement” how to utilize Hangouts for alumni networking opportunities.

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