Program Kick-off Event

Just as family members and mentors need an orientation to your mentoring program, so do participating students. They need to hear about the benefits of being mentored, the dynamics of the mentor-mentee relationship, the kinds of activities in which they will participate, and what is expected of them. Many mentoring programs begin by hosting a fun kick-off event—such as a dinner or pizza party—at which mentors and students are introduced to one another. If secondary students are participating, you’ll want to include their parents in the “meet-the-mentor” event.

What ideas do you have for your mentoring program’s introductory session? Here’s a suggested checklist of items to accomplish before, during, and after your first meeting between the mentors and participating students.

Planning for the Meeting

  1. Decide on a date.
    • Choose a time.
    • Reserve a room/facility.
  2. Create an agenda for the meeting.
  3. Invite speakers on topics such as careers in emerging technologies; changing roles of women in the workplace, etc.; some of your mentors may be interested in this role.
  4. Send an email or printed invitation to all interested parties. Include agenda, date, time, and location.
  5. Decide on food/catering for the meeting.
    • Check several days in advance to make sure food preparations are in order.
    • Ensure ample supplies of tableware, napkins, drinks, cups, etc.
    • Arrange tables/chairs in meeting room.
  6. Match mentors and students.
  7. Determine what type of communication tools will be made available to program participants such as a password-protected website, discussion board, etc. Setup sites/tools that will be needed for demonstration at the kick-off meeting.
  8. Consider issues for future activities such as:
    • Where will mentors and students meet for your mentoring program’s activities?
    • Do you already have an agreement or contract with the event facility, if needed?
    • How often will you hold formal meetings?

At the Meeting

Follow your published agenda:

  1. Have dinner.
  2. Welcome guests/provide an overview of your mentoring program and your expectations of participants.
  3. Listen to speaker(s).
  4. Demonstrate program website and communication tools, as applicable.
  5. Announce Mentor-Mentee assignments.
  6. Ask students and mentors to introduce themselves and provide brief personal/professional background info. as appropriate.
  7. Assign a person to gather information/take photos of participants for program communication purposes.
  8. After the meeting, allow mentors and students ample time to network with one another and make plans for future communication/mentor sessions.

After the Initial Meeting