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Education Plus

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Mentoring students online

If collegemates meet up, they would probably discuss favourite spots on campus, or talk about their professors, or possibly recall funny anecdotes that their batch witnessed. But this four, who are alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology - Delhi, went beyond.

Anshuman Chaudhary, Avijit Sharma, Anshul Aggarwal and Pratik Aggarwal of IIT-Delhi, who were lucky to have very helpful seniors, realised that not all students had mentors to help them through the challenging decision-making phase that is part of college life.

“While most students follow what others around them are doing, they may be unaware of their true potential and opportunities that exist in the outside world,” says Anshuman, who works from Mumbai, with his other three Delhi-based colleagues.

Thus was born www.mentorpolis.com — a portal that seeks to help students and professionals looking for advice on higher education or career. “Mentors not only help people in identifying the most suitable places for them, they also guide them to reach those places.”

The portal enables visitors to obtain guidance from experts in different fields. Course-specific mentoring as well strategy-based mentoring is provided by a panel of mentors representing different academic disciplines and professions.

“When we started, our own IIT seniors and their secondary contacts were the first buyers of idea and were enrolled as mentors. Hence, the starting point was engineering and management,” says Anshuman.

How it works

MentorPolis boasts of mentors from top institutions such as Harvard Business School, Stern School, New York City, Stanford and Yale.

Considering that mentoring is a continuous process demanding systematic interaction and consistency in guidance, it could be a challenging service, particularly when it is offered online.

Aware of this challenge, team MentorPolis employs a mix of web and telephone-based counselling process. A candidate seeking guidance could browse the site and look at mentor profiles.

After this, they could select a suitable mentor, schedule communication, pay for the consultation request and subsequently keep connecting with the mentor.

Once a call is scheduled, MentorPolis dials out to both the mentor as well as the ‘mentee’ to connect them on phone.

The subsequent follow-up, rescheduling and document transfer, if any, takes place online.

“We provide an online collaboration space for the mentor and ‘mentee’ to interact after they are finished with the telephonic consultation. Such a collaborative environment ensures that the ‘mentee’ is in continuous touch with the mentor for any future guidance or doubts.” The team is also working on an offline model to serve people who are not very comfortable with web as a medium.

In a span of three months, over 700 ‘mentees’ have registered with MentorPolis. The users are mostly from the Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. “Our team has already started the marketing campaign in the Tier-2 cities, as these are the places where our need is felt the most.”

Interestingly, quite a few people abroad have also shown interest in the services and have registered for them.

MEERA SRINIVASAN

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