by cliftonb 
Clifton

@maxticket Portland, Oregon

Last Saturday Collective Agency hosted the first of what we hope will be a
many events we call Mentorship Speed-Dating. The plan was to match
potential mentors and proteges looking to connect with like-minded
counterparts in a series of 15-minute pairings.

While I was planning and promoting the event, I began to realize that
others’ ideas of what a mentorship is varied greatly from person to person,
often with very little understanding of the actual process and purpose. A
lot of the confusion led people to believe that mentoring is no different
from hiring an intern, becoming someone’s personal secretary or getting
free labor out of a recent college grad for a few months. This only
strengthened my resolve to reach as many people as I could with an event
like this.

Overall, the event was a success, and led to several enjoyable discussions
in the paired rounds as well as larger group conversations before and after
each round.

The idea was to come up with an event that would bring people in multiple
disciplines together with the hope of fostering long-lasting mentor
relationships, but also with the understanding that any combination of
people with similar interests would have something to gain from a 15-minute
chat on their topic. The concept that both parties, mentors and proteges,
stand to learn a great deal about their fields and themselves was also
something we wanted to make clear.

Everyone who attended the event had something to share and something to
gain. We provided them with forms to fill out that expressed what they were
interested in, what they hoped to learn, and what they felt they could
offer. We had three categories: Business, Software Development and Visual
Communications, one after the other. Attendance began the strongest in the
morning, with Business, and fewer people came to each of the other
groups–exactly the opposite of what I’d been expecting.

The group discussions prior to each speed-dating round helped everyone get
comfortable with the others while they introduced themselves and discussed
what they expected to gain from the event. Each group handled itself a bit
differently, with certain attendees taking the reins and leading the
discussion while others listened, but there was hardly a lull throughout
the day. Interest and enthusiasm seemed fairly consistent, and some
conversations lasted longer than the event itself, leading into the streets
of Portland long after the doors were locked.

We hope to keep Mentorship Speed-Dating going, and we hope we can help
others appreciate the value of the mentor-protege relationship. It’s my
belief that everyone should be on both sides of that process whenever
possible.

– Clifton, clifton@offchild.com @maxticket July 18, 2011

Written by Alex Linsker