Mentoring meets innovation during COVID-19
Quality mentoring greatly enhances a student’s chances of success by providing the desired support, guidance and nurturing
Mentoring is a powerful tool, which can help students develop their personality. It is the pillar on which the bond between students and faculty gets strengthened. A mentor is a friend, philosopher and guide to his/her student group. At UPES, mentoring plays a significant role in encouraging students in addition to the co-curricular and extra-curricular support given to them. The topics of mentoring range from academics, student life, career services, personal counselling to life during COVID-19.
Considering the lockdown, mentors have been looking at innovative ways of keeping in touch with their mentees. The Blackboard Learning System is one such medium for mentoring at the UPES School of Business. The mentors are using all possible modes – from WhatsApp to Google Hangouts – to support their mentees, especially during such unprecedented times.
It is heart-warming to hear many stories of the care provided by the faculty at the Business school. As Dr. Sunil Barthwal recounts his experience when one of his students was feeling as though she had lost her power of imagination under the current lockdown situation. During the course of the conversation, he got to know that she plays the guitar, sings and loves gardening. Taking this cue forward, Dr. Sunil motivated the student to focus on her talent, maybe create her own YouTube channel to ‘channel’ her creativity and find happiness from her talent itself. An important lesson in mentoring is that a mentee may see the long road ahead but does not realize that they were carrying a guitar all along. A gentle nudge, reminder, reinforcement by a mentor is all that is required.
Dr. Sonal Gupta shares her experience with the students on the adoption of online classes. The initial hesitation of studying Oil & Gas online was replaced with childlike curiosity among the students. Mentors like Dr. Sonal just had to lead the way and show compassion. That is all it takes for building a relationship that can last for life.
Dr. Atul Razdan, a senior faculty and cross-country marathon runner took the opportunity to mentor his students on the importance of staying healthy during the present crisis. Students felt motivated by his follow-ups on their physical activity. While exercising at home, they know that someone cares.
For me, it is the heartening memory of a call by a student, who spent nearly twenty minutes narrating her adventure, as she called it, of reaching her home from Dehradun during the initial days of the lockdown. All of 19 years of age, she felt nothing short of a superwoman. All I did was listen, and that’s what she needed. More often, mentoring is simply about lending a listening ear.
Under the ‘We Care’ initiative taken by the university, mentoring at the UPES School of Business provides a critical bridge. The positive stories of mentoring reiterate the best practices that bind the teacher with the taught. As Dean, Dr. Githa S. Heggde puts it, “Mentoring at an educational institution is critical to the overall development of the students. I am glad that we have a robust system in place at the UPES School of Business”.
(Dr. Vickram Sahai is Senior Associate Professor and Secretary Mentor-Mentee Committee, School of Business, UPES.)