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What is mentoring?


What is mentoring?

Mentoring, within the UCT Alumni Mentoring Programme, is understood as the development of a mutually satisfying, voluntary, one-on-one relationship between an undergraduate student and an alumnus, where the focus is on the student’s career and personal development.

Why a mentoring programme for EBE students?

The Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment has a well-established mentoring programme for first year students, where senior undergraduate students mentor first year students. An overview of the EBE mentoring programme can be found on the UCT youtube , as well as the initial part of the EBE mentor training.

Over the past few years, these EBE student peer mentors have expressed a need to be mentored. They voluntarily give of their time to the first-year students, but are not supported themselves in the latter years of their degree programme. The EBE Alumni Mentoring Programme is an attempt to facilitate the professional and personal development of engineering undergraduate students. The Programme offers students an opportunity to learn through the experience and expertise of the alumni on a one-to-one basis; to receive guidance, and networking opportunities; and to provide a supportive community for new engineers. It allows students to talk with engineers outside the University, who can provide an independent perspective on both engineering and UCT, including different career paths and professional opportunities. The Programme also seeks to offer alumni the opportunity to influence the career paths of students.

Why become a mentor?

Mentoring can be a rewarding experiencing for the mentor. The Faculty is in the process of recruiting UCT alumni engineers who are keen to invest some of their time in the development of young students. By becoming a mentor you would be:

  • Adding value to the lives of our students; contributing towards the growth of young, aspiring engineers; and being part of shaping their future.
  • Assisting and supporting undergraduate engineering students who are currently feeling the need to be supported by a mentor in industry.
  • Acting as a guide and resource for students and be in a position to share your UCT and professional experience with them to help them succeed at UCT and beyond.
  • Helping students with the transition to the world of work, understanding industry, and developing networks.
  • Enhancing your leadership and coaching skills.
  • Creating a new support network with students and future alumnae in your field.
  • Learning about the various ways in which students are connected to career and professional networks. 

What would the role of mentoring entail for a UCT alumnus?

As a UCT alumnus mentor you should be:

  • willing to engage with young engineering and built environment students who are in the process of completing their degree.
  • have an ability to share your knowledge, expertise, skill and most of all encourage, motivate and support mentees.  No academic tuition is required or expected.
  • available to mentees and respond to them professionally, appropriately and timeously.
  • able to commit for 10 months with the possibility of the relationship continuing formally through the UCT programme or informally
  • in contact with your mentee at least twice a month - electronically, telephonically, or face to face (where circumstances permit).  
  • participating in an online evaluation of the programme.

Are you suited to being a mentor at present?

If you answer yes, to several of the characteristics below, you are likely to be a good mentor. If you don’t, this may not be the time for you to be involved in mentoring, just yet.

Effective characteristics of good mentors:

  • I have the ability to spot potential and to believe in others. I generally have a very positive view of others.  
  • I often offer advice to others; am well networked, and am a useful resource for others.  
  • I am patient and tolerant. I consider mistakes as opportunities to learn. I am a good listener and can have open and honest discussions.
  • It is easy for me to encourage others and build their confidence.
  • I am able to see the big picture. I can offer alternative perspectives often not thought about by others. I can set realistic and meaningful goals.

If you have the following characteristics or traits, you may want to reconsider being a mentor:

  • I am too busy, am often forgetful, struggle to return phone calls often, miss scheduled meetings, travel often.
  • I tend to be overly critical and always point out why things are wrong.
  • I am not up to date with the current trends, issues.
  • I would not want my mentee to be more successful than me.

What are the specific commitments of being a mentor?

The mentoring relationship begins during a mentees 2nd, 3rd or 4th year at university and extends for a 10 month period, starting in February and ending in November. Thereafter both mentor and mentee can decide to maintain their current relationship in a more informal way or continue to work formally with a new mentor the following year.  Mentors are required to be in contact with their mentee at least twice a month, but contact can be more frequent if required, and depending on the preferences of the mentee and mentor.  

Mentors are expected to commit to the following:

One-on-one interaction (face-to-face, email or telephonic)      Minimum of twice a month

On-line mentor evaluation and feedback                                   0.5 hours

The actual nature of the mentoring relationship will be determined by the students and alumni. Activities are determined by mutual agreement between the alumni mentor and the student mentee. They can include anything from helping to look over a C.V. to providing insights on how to maintain a good work-life balance.

How to apply to be a mentor

You can apply to be a mentor by completing an application form which will be used to form an anonymous profile. Students will be provided with a list of the alumni engineers profiles and will choose their mentor based on who most closely matches their needs or interests. The student will make contact with the mentor

Mentor training

Mentor training can be arranged for those who reside in Cape Town and who feel that they would benefit from some training. The training aims to equip mentors with the necessary information and skills needed for a successful mentoring relationship; setting goals and expectations for the relationship; active listening; and useful UCT resources.

Is there support available?

If you have any problems, or questions, about the programme or concerns about personal or academic aspects of the mentee, please contact the Mentoring Programme Co-ordinator - Nazeema Ahmed

If you are interested in applying to be an EBE Alumni Mentor please complete the application form and send it to Nazeema Ahmed. 

Thank you.