Finding a mentor is extremely freaking tough, no matter what field you’re in. You not only have to identify someone whose career you admire, but typically, those people tend to be really, really busy — and taking on a mentee might not be super high on their priority list. But Facebook wants to make it easier to connect with a mentor (or mentee, if that’s what you want to do), and it has to do with the way you use Groups. Today, Facebook launched a new Mentorship feature that will help you get connected with a mentor who you share common interests with, starting with the Groups you’re in.
“Today, we’re bringing Mentorship to Facebook Groups to make it easier for people who want help achieving their goals to connect with others in their community who have the experience or expertise to help,” a press release from Facebook noted.
How does this work, you ask? Basically, group admins will have the option to enroll their group in the program, based on a few different templates like career advancement or skill development. Then, people in the group can sign up to participate in the program, whether as a mentor or a mentee. After that, people are matched up by the group’s administrator, and will be guided through a step-by-step program that helps the pair tackle the mentee’s development. Communications are totally private (i.e., not visible to the group at large), and the service is only available to people 18 and up.
Tracie Searing is a member of Run the Year 2018, a Facebook group that helps its over 13 thousand members attain their fitness goals. She used the Mentorship feature to connect with a mentor to help her answer questions while she was training for an ultramarathon. “In my case I wanted an experienced Ultra trail runner who was willing to answer a million questions,” she tells Bustle. “I needed advice on training, fueling and gear.” Searing says it was easy to stay in touch with her mentor. “Once we were paired up we communicated via a private messenger group. My Mentor and I communicated at least once a week. As my race approached we communicated two times a week.”
Searing says she would recommend the program to others. “It’s an easy to use tool for knowledge based communication and learning.”
There are a few caveats to the program, however. Mentorship is only available to “select groups focused on parenting, professional and personal development,” per the Facebook press release, so you probably won’t be able to find a mentor in your skincare hacks group, for example. Also, the guided, progress-focused template of the program stands at odds to the unstructured, slightly-less-formal nature of an IRL mentor-mentee relationship (though there’s no reason mentors and mentees can’t chat outside of their guided program).
That being said, the program will more likely than not help people more meaningfully connect through the social network, which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has pointed to as a goal for the platform. But, even more importantly, it’ll help folks find mentors and people to mentor, a hugely important step in professional and personal development of all kinds.