Want to be a mentor for students setting up a social enterprise?
Ah go on. Yer will, yer will etc.
Sorry, getting ahead of myself. As usual.
So, as the Social Entrepreneur in Residence at The University of Sheffield, I’m supporting the team to devise and deliver a programme to help students deliver socially innovate projects. And I have to tell you, bias aside, it’s shaping up rather nicely.
The first social innovation lab was so successful that we’re doing it again with a second cohort of students. It started last Monday. And yesterday we kicked off the second stage – the accelerator programme which provides business plan ready students with a whole host of support including mentors to help keep them on track, site visits, business advisors, access to accelerator funding, and Action Learning Sets.
We had the first action learning set on Monday, and it seemed to go really well. (Students who were there – please let us know!). The whole premise of Action Learning Sets is that students support each other in finding solutions to their problems through an open question format. So students bring with them a problem that is holding their project back (personal or work-related), and the other students help them analyse their problem by only asking them questions.
This was one of the formats we used as students at the School for Social Entrepreneurs and I loved it. You don’t just get chance to get a problme off your chest and get others to help you, but you also learn so much by helping other people solve theirs.
Anyway, I digress. Overexcited. As usual. Yes, MENTORS!
We’re a bit short on the mentors to support students on the Accelerator programme. Can you help? Ideally, you’ll have experience of running a social enterprise or running a private business yourself. Above all, you just need to be a good listener, and help the students focus on what they said they were going to do.
The role of our mentors is one mainly of support and encouragement to help them keep on track. It is not about giving information or advice. We have business advisors for that.
Your role as a mentor is to help students decide on action points to carry out for their project that month, prioritise actions, and, in the follow up meetings, help them review their progress and set goals for the coming month. You will help them identify any gaps in their skills/knowledge, and refer them to one of our advisors, who are qualified to give advice and guidance to our students.
The spirit of mentoring is one of positive support and encouragement. You should aim to support the person, not just the project, so identifying personal barriers and finding ways to overcome these is also part of the mentor’s role.
It’s a minimum of three sessions, one hour each at a time and place to suit you both.
The students are inspiring and beautiful people. I guarantee you will not fail to leave your meeting with them buzzing with optimism and, whatever your day job, I assure you, it will help you see that with fresh eyes and renewed vigor too.
If you can help, please contact the Social Innovation Officer: Leanne Dodson, or drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanking you, in anticipation.