Mentoring = Success for International Students
International students often face the greatest challenge creating local networks, undertaking career investigations and securing work experience in the Australian job market.
RMIT has implemented a leading edge cloud based mentoring portal to give international students access to a local or international industry professional of their choice. These industry professionals act as career mentors, offering individual guidance on the students’ preferred job market, access to meaningful work experience, local referees, and local professional networks.
The mentoring portal gives control to the student to review available mentors and to self-select the mentor who is best placed to support and guide them.
Demonstrated benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions
Many international students choose to work in Australia after graduating. Through the Internet, they have access to an enormous amount of information, but understanding what is important and accurate and learning how to apply that information to navigate the Australian or international job market is critical. Industry mentoring at RMIT supports international students by enabling them to; self select the mentor best placed to advise them on their preferred job market. This is now possible through an online cloud based mentoring portal.
International student participation has increased substantially in the mentoring program since 2013.
2013 – 144 international students registered for a mentor and 75 were partnered
2014 – 245 international students registered and 117 were partnered
2015 year to date – 449 international students registered for a mentor and 218 were partnered.
International students are proportionally more highly represented in the Industry Mentoring
Program than local students. International students represent 16% of all onshore RMIT students, but this cohort have initiated more than 42 per cent of all mentoring partnerships in the mentoring portal in 2015.
The preference of the majority of international students when they graduate is to start their career in Australia. Results from RMIT’s mentoring program reinforce this, with 74% of international students initiating partnerships with Australian based mentors. The remaining 26% connected with mentors based globally. This program offers students who prefer to stay in Australia, a gateway to local employers, Australian job market guidance, meaningful work experience and local referees.
In addition to the local job market guidance that over 150 international students achieve through the program, 21 per cent were also referred to contacts within their mentor’s professional networks, 9 precent were offered employment, paid work experience and internships, and 18% were offered volunteer work. International students clearly receive significant advantage in creating connections to their future industry that industry mentoring facilitates.
Benefits for graduate employers
Graduate employers use the mentoring portal to access talent. For example mentors from smaller companies that have no formal graduate recruitment program, will offer mentoring to a student mentee and evaluate the student for graduate positions.
The exceptional reporting capabilities of the mentoring portal show us that employers who mentor international students are more engaged in their mentoring partnerships than their counterparts mentoring local students - on average they send 15 per cent more system messages and log in 21 per cent more often. As 80 per cent of the program mentors are RMIT Alumni, this also works to strengthen our Alumni networks and engagement.
Benefits for tertiary institutions
The mentoring portal has “enabled” industry mentoring at RMIT. It has provided the infrastructure to economically upscale the program, creating over 640 students to industry mentoring partnerships in 2015 to date.
The mentoring portal offers an intuitive process, which guides a mentoring partnership through to successful completion. This requires limited hands-on management, enabling the program administrators to focus on the value added program services and support.
Student engagement has been boosted, with students valuing the new transparency offered by the mentoring portal and the improved control to determine and initiate their own mentoring partnership.
Potentially or currently benefits the NAGCAS organisation, its members and the career development industry
- The value of student to industry mentoring is well acknowledged, and many other tertiary institutions also offer this service to students. Managing mentoring partnerships via an online mentoring portal, however, is a new approach for an Australian university. RMIT often shares our journey and experience with other universities who are also investigating online mentoring systems.
- Students are enabled through this new technology to take control over their career research and creation of industry networks - principles in line with Career Development Learning.
RMIT is one of the first Australian universities to invest in an online mentoring portal. This was achieved through a very successful partnership between the two teams of Careers and Employability and Advancement.
Students now have full control over their industry connections - for example, when to initiate a mentoring partnership and which mentor is best placed to guide them. Students can even select their mentor based on their location.
The mentoring portal has streamlined processes, enabled substantial increases in participation rates, and improved management, measurement and reporting capabilities.