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A good match


Since the beginning of 2003, more than 2000 individual mentoring programmes have been initiated. Each individual mentoring programme is tailored around the mentee's dreams and wishes for her future life in Denmark.

And because each programme is customised to the mentee’s individual situation, finding a good match requires more than one approach.

As a coordinator, creating a good match is something you get a feeling for, recognising the key indicators for success. But success should never be taken for granted. At the end of the day, it’s the mentee’s experience of the partnership and how well it has matched her at that stage of her life that determines whether the match was a success.

The coordinator is the professional link in every mentor programme. It is the coordinator who, based upon interviews with both the mentee and potential mentors, must decide who to match up with whom. The foundation for any match is the mentee’s own dreams and wishes for her life in Denmark and it must always be respected that the mentee is the expert when it comes to knowing her own life.

A key aspect of the mentee interview is to get her to define and describe the type of mentor she needs. As well as the actual matching process, some of the coordinators’ most important tasks are to ensure that the mentee and the mentor get started and to continually follow up as the programme runs on.

As the Mentor Network has grown, it has come to light that there is an increasing need for developing flexible methods of establishing new individual programmes as mentees represent a wide cross section of refugee and ethnic minority women in Denmark. One thing all mentees have in common is the shared need to move forward with their lives in Denmark and they themselves take the first step in contacting KVINFO’s Mentor Network to get help doing so.

Mentees can definitely not be classed as a homogenous group. In fact, mentees’ backgrounds vary considerably – both socially, culturally and in relation to education and professional competencies. As a result, the requirements for a successful mentor programme are equally as diverse. It is always, for example, a challenge to hold the very first meeting between mentee and mentor following which both parties must say ‘yes’ to forming a partnership.

Many mentees contact a potential mentor themselves, with few problems, and they hold the introductory meeting alone, reporting back to the coordinator afterwards. Other mentees need the coordinator to organise and take part in the first meeting allowing the mentees trust in the coordinator to be transferred to the new mentor.

A good match starts with both mentor and mentee actively agreeing to enter a mentoring partnership with each other. From here, the relationship develops as an interaction between mentee and mentor.

For the mentee, the main focus will often be on concrete results, such as a job, course of education, improved Danish language skills, increased social/professional network, and greater self-esteem. Because of this, the mentor’s ability to actively put her competencies, experience and network at the disposal of the mentee is crucial. And this can also prove to be a learning process for the mentee who gains experience of creating an equal and mutually appreciative relationship. This process can also open the mentee’s eyes to the full potential of what she herself can offer the relationship.

By viewing a mentor programme as a learning process, it may be difficult to equate a good match with a problem-free match without hurdles and conflicts.

If the mentee and mentor – perhaps in counsel with the coordinator – endeavour to investigate the reasons for conflict or hindrances and ask difficult, but necessary, questions, the result can be enlightenment and a better insight into each other’s lives and motives.

An important aspect of any coordinator’s work is dealing with the on-going follow-up during the course of a programme and, when the time comes, assist the mentoring partnership in determining whether to continue or whether to end the programme. Perhaps the programme has developed into a friendship and contact will be maintained outside the bounds of KVINFO – nothing is certain. In all cases, a mentoring partnership should be concluded with a proper farewell so both mentee and mentor are left with a clear knowledge of what each has meant to the other’s life.
Read more
Background, case stories and more in KVINFO's
Theme: Mentoring 

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