Alumni understand peer-to-peer relationships. They’ve spent the last four years involved in campus ministries with people their own age. Even the leadership is usually only a few years their senior. Singles ministries, friendships with peers and even dating are the norm…but an older mentor?
The idea of a mentor, of someone significantly older than themselves, not only taking an interest in them, but able to understand and disciple them in their walk with God is often a new idea.
- Is this person going to understand what I’m going through?
- Will they judge me because I’m younger?
- What advice do they have that will be relevant to my life?
- Why should I connect with a stranger when I move?
These are fair questions.
This is why during the senior year, it’s important we connect with alumni one-on-one. We initially meet them through campus Bible studies, and share about Alumni Connect. For those who are interested, we start meeting with them individually.
This step is critical for connecting them with a mentor once they begin their career. A relationship must be built and trust established.
As we connect with them one-on-one before May, we start to build that relationship. We get to know them, begin a friendship, and learn more about the challenges they are currently facing, like finding a job.
And they begin to see what we mean by mentor:
- An advisor, not the guide (no hand-holding)
- Older, with a wealth of real-life experience to share from
- Able to relate on what’s important
- Genuinely cares about them
As we give input, pray for them, and do it around their busy schedules, they experience what it means to have a friendship with an older mentor—someone who listens and offers advice when needed.
This is no longer some “nice to have” or “obligation” to commit to. They see the value played out in their current situation. They understand how a mentor can be their friend, and help them continue to grow in their walk with God as they move and begin their career.
Then, as they relocate for a new job, we find and connect them with a local mentor. Since trust has already been built, the new mentor is able to build on our foundation, and continue the work we started.
We have seen God faithfully use this process for the last six years, and it’s working!