First published 28 October 2020

QUT's career mentoring community reimagined the future of our mentoring program through a design thinking workshop.

Student representatives, staff and industry mentors met online in September to enhance career mentoring at QUT. 

Hosted by QUT's Career Development and Employability team, the workshop incorporated a series of appreciative inquiry and design thinking activities. Throughout the morning, the 36 workshop participants collaborated in break-out rooms on prototyping and evaluating career mentoring programs, each for a hypothetical future user of the career mentoring program at QUT.

Dr Caroline Rueckert, Director of Student Success, welcomed attendees to the workshop by highlighting the benefits of mentoring, and how it enables students to become more resilient, build networks and feel connected to a community.  

'With the launch of Blueprint 6, we're now presented with the unique opportunity to reimagine what role mentoring might play in achieving the university's aspiration to be the university for the real world.' - Dr Caroline Rueckert, Director of Student Success

Career mentoring is not a new conversation at QUT. The Career Mentor Scheme has been running for more than 25 years, supporting thousands of students to make meaningful connections with professionals in industry.

The program has experienced impressive growth in the past 10-15 years. In 2008, the program helped 400 students connect with mentors all over the country and ten years later, that number rocketed to 1000 matches per year. 

Alan McAlpine has been involved in the program for more than 15 years, both in the role of Associate Director, Student Success and as a mentor. He explained that in the last 3-5 years, there's been increased demand from both mentors and mentees, wanting to get involved in the program.

Alan McAlpine, Associate Director, Student Success

'It became increasingly difficult to run the program so we started looking at how we could introduce a digital solution,' Alan said. 

Guided by a workshop facilitator, participants shared stories of their own experiences, pitched elements of transformational mentoring to each other, and mapped opportunities against a mentoring program prototype. 

Attendees said they were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the workshop participants and appreciated the different perspectives, especially from students.

'Such wonderful and meaningful sharing. Participants were really engaged and thought critically about the design of this program,' one participant said. 

After imagining and designing a number of transformational career mentoring programs, the group came together to pull out the best of the pitched programs. These were analysed by all workshop participants for their strengths and opportunities using a shared Padlet resource.

'It was really important for us to include students, staff and mentors in today's workshop, so we can ensure that our new program meets the needs of our diverse community' - Berni Cooper, workshop host
Berni Cooper, Strategic Lead, Career Development and Employability

The September collaboration activity forms part of the ongoing Career Mentoring Transformation (CMT) Project.  

The CMT Project commenced in late 2019 with the purpose of procuring and implementing an off-the-shelf digital platform and developing guidelines, resources and tools to underpin and support career mentoring at QUT. 

In 2017, the team presented a bid to the ‘mentoring marketplace’ to secure a digital solution. In the following two years, the team piloted different concepts and received valuable input from students and mentors in QUT's career mentoring community. 

To date, the project team has worked with a number of stakeholders to define the university's requirements and in September 2020, QUT entered into an agreement with PeopleGrove to provide the digital mentoring platform. 

The new QUT-wide structured career mentoring program is scheduled to be launched in Semester 1, 2021.

To get involved in QUT's career mentoring program, visit the career mentoring webpage. If you have any feedback or thoughts you'd like to share with the team, email careermentor@qut.edu.au

Contact
LTU Learning and Teaching Unit
careermentor@qut.edu.au