The Mentor Model is designed to have numerous positive features that protect and balance the interests of students, mentors and companies. Simple yet innovative safeguards developed for the Mentor Model are discussed below:

1.  Working Agreements during the 1-2 Year “Transition Period” – to protect the investments of the employer and mentor (the company’s staff, incentivized), the Mentor Model suggests a series of 3 to 6 month written agreements between the student (junior staff), mentor and employer on key expectations of:

     a)  Payment and any benefits,

     b)  Weekly mentoring time targets (estimated number of hours per week),

     c)  Monthly goals for the student’s time spent in training/working (i.e., 50/50 or 60/40, etc.), and

     d)  Assigned mentor(s).

This Agreement could also include a contingent “signing bonus” for the student in the event of departure from the program prior to the agreed-upon schedule. (In college, you can’t quit mid-semester and expect to get a full refund.)

If all sides have a comfortable level of mutual trust, some elements could be verbal. The goal here is to protect vital interests without restricting flexibility.

2.  Written Salary Target – to protect the investment of the student (junior staff), the Mentor Model suggests a written salary target and commencement date for when the student will “graduate” to a full-time salary.

3.  Mentor Incentives – this one may sound simple (and it is), but it’s often overlooked. From my experience working at six different consulting firms over 25 years and visiting dozens of client companies (often for weeks or months), I’ve never seen anyone attach financial incentives to the senior mentoring staff, which explains why so little mentoring gets done. The fairly recent practice of only valuing classroom lectures and books is one “blind spot” the Mentor Model helps to alleviate.

4.  Program Oversight – this is a key feature of the model that evolved out of test marketing. During the student’s 1-2 year Transition Period of working/training at the company, the Mentor Model is designed to provide 3rd-party protection to all sides involved. Since the Mentor Model is intended to be customized and personal, there is always a potential that adjustments will need to be made (assigned mentor, split of training/working time, etc.) to maximize benefits to everyone.

The goal here is “balance.” The 3rd-party oversight feature is intended to be a few hours the first month then tapering off in following months and quarters.

Caveats:  All of the above “safeguards” are not guarantees of anything. “Junior” staff can be employees of any age.

The Mentor Model is one option for you to consider and choose if you think it’s appropriate. The University Model is another option, which often lacks many “safeguards” and involves its own share of risks to evaluate.

Success or stagnation in any educational or working model is directly influenced by the effort that students and employers put into it. Selecting the model that best fits your career and the company’s aspirations is an important choice to consider wisely.

Next: College Alternatives, Part 1:

“debt-deals” and the “scholarship” game


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