The following scenarios provide program staff who work directly with pairs with an opportunity to discuss situations they will likely encounter and develop strategies to enhance the quality of the pair support they provide.
- Before you explore these case studies, review 9 principles for supporting challenging pairs.
- Consider your approach to each scenario and discuss with your manager for feedback.
Mentor David is entering the first year of a four year match with his mentee Shawn. Since sessions began about seven months ago, you’ve noticed that Shawn writes a short paragraph to his mentor each week. Shawn doesn’t always use proper spelling and grammar, and sometimes writes off-topic from the prompt. David sends you an email, expressing concern about Shawn’s participation. He says they don’t talk about anything substantial, and while David wants to talk about college, Shawn only wants to talk about sports. He writes, “I’m pretty shocked at the quality of his writing. I had hoped that he would show improvement over the year, but I haven’t seen significant changes. It’s pretty clear that Shawn needs more intensive help. I’m not sure I’m the best person to help him.” How do you respond? What are your next steps?
You are a Program Manager (PM) working with a group of sophomores in a four year match. The students had a different PM last year, so you’re still getting to know the students. During your discussion on the “College Prep: The Early Years” prompt, one particularly outgoing mentee, Denise, raises her hand and says she already talked to her mentor about college. She said they did this prompt last year, and her old PM let her write about whatever she wanted. She asks why they need to write about this topic again. What do you say to her in the moment? How do you follow up with her?
Mentee Mohammed is a senior in high school. He frequently works late hours at his parents’ store. Because of his schedule, it has been difficult to get him to meet with his mentor Doug. Doug has been pretty flexible, but is getting frustrated that they haven’t met in two months. You finally find a date for Doug and Mohammed to meet up at the office outside of the regularly scheduled events. You confirm with Mohammed the class beforehand and give him directions to the office. The day after Doug and Mohammed were supposed to meet, you see an email from Doug saying that Mohammed never came. He waited at the office until 7:30 pm, and called Mohammed several times. How do you respond to Doug? How do you follow up with Mohammed?
David is a brand new mentor. He is a Vice President at one of our corporate partners and is very excited to get matched. He expects that with his experience and connections, there’s no way his mentee won’t be getting a full ride to the college of his/her choice. How do you manage expectations without minimizing excitement?
Stan is a returning mentor and you are reviewing his profile notes before a call. You see that the previous PM left very strong instructions about next steps for the mentor. Stan received a low rating because he only met his mentee Jason once this past year and frequently missed emails. The former PM gave Stan a warning and reviewed all of the program requirements last year. Stan is committed to staying, but needs to stay on task this year to stay matched. As the PM coming into this match, how do you reinforce the former PM’s instructions and actions while setting a good tone and encouraging growth in this pair?
Mentee Tracy and mentor Julie are entering their second year of a three year match. Julie and Tracy had a good first year, and you can tell Julie wants to be a good mentor to Tracy. Since the year started, Julie and Tracy have met once. Julie RSVP’ed “yes” to the second event, but she had an unexpected work conflict and had to cancel the day before the event. Tracy was upset about this and seemed disappointed. She came to the event anyway but seemed to be in a bad mood, and you heard her mention that her mentor was too busy for her. The next week in class, Tracy says she doesn’t feel like writing Julie. When you asked about meeting at the next event, she said she would probably be busy. What do you say to Tracy? What do you say to Julie?
You have a mentor, Emily, who has been a mentor in our program for the last six years. She is going into the second year of a three year match. When you get her on the phone and begin to review the program requirements, she cuts you off and says she knows it all. Later, she mentions how long she’s been a mentor and asks if you’re new to the program. How do you respond when she cuts you off? How do you redirect the conversation? How do you respond to the tenure question?
Things to Consider:
- What is unique about each of your pairs and how can your individual support strategies reflect those nuances?
- Who on your team can be a thought partner when challenging situations arise?
- In which situations would you go to your manager for additional support?
- How can the iMentor Platform assist you when providing support in these scenarios?