Two years ago, there was an evident gap in the mentorship opportunities available for Science and Business (SCBUS) students and alumni at the University of Waterloo. Being a student myself, I found it difficult to connect with alumni who had career paths similar to my aspirations. I’m thankful that the SCBUS director, Dr. Okey Igboeli, is constantly aiming to provide new opportunities for SCBUS students and alumni, one of which was to fill the gap in mentorship.  

Our goal was to create an environment that fosters mentorship, encourages knowledge exchange, and empowers students to navigate their career trajectories. Two years later, I’m happy to share that over 600 students and alumni have been connected for mentorship and networking opportunities. Accomplishing this goal was a result of strategic planning and meticulous execution, which are outlined in this article. 

Partnership with 10KC 

When Dr. Igboeli and I were discussing the best solution to connect students and alumni, we needed to decide on whether it would be more efficient and effective to build or buy a platform. To make this decision, I conducted an environmental analysis of other universities’ mentorship platforms, such as Harvard and Stanford. Through this analysis, combined with an analysis of our resources, I determined that purchasing a platform would be the best approach. 

After thorough research and live demos from various organizations, we identified Ten Thousand Coffees (10KC) as the ideal partner due to their user-friendly platform, enhanced by AI capabilities. I had preliminary discussions with 10KC to better understand their product offerings and their alignment with our goals. I had the privilege of meeting with the 10KC CEO, Dave Wilkin, who is a SCBUS alumnus. These discussions culminated into a partnership between 10KC and the SCBUS program. 

students at podium
Mentorship Diagram

Launch of the Platform 

Launching the mentorship platform involved a series of steps, as outlined in the below photo. First, I outlined clear goals to ensure optimal value for SCBUS students and alumni using 10KC’s platform. This resulted in the introduction of five distinct programs: three mentorship programs, a networking program, and an office hours program. Each program was tailored to provide unique value to students and alumni by offering long-term mentorship opportunities, network expansion through monthly coffee chats, and engaging events with senior leaders. More details regarding each program can be found on our website.  

The Impact  

The launch of the platform was highly successful, as it led to an impressive enrollment of over 500 users within the first three months of the Fall 2022 launch. The success has continued to grow ever since. 

From its inception, the mentorship platform has made a profound impact on both students and alumni. With over 600 members on the hub and an outstanding 96% satisfaction rate across all programs, the platform has become an integral part of the SCBUS community. 

To ensure continuous improvement, I review quantitative and qualitative feedback from students and alumni, allowing me to develop strategies that better cater to their needs. This feedback-centric approach ensures an ongoing commitment to providing value and fostering meaningful connections within the SCBUS community. 

Mentorship meeting
students at desk

The Future

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the launch and continuous improvement of the SCBUS mentorship platform. This success could not have happened without the support of many individuals, including Dr. Igboeli, the 10KC team, SCBUS professors, and the Science Advancement team. 

As the platform continues to grow and make a lasting impact, it is a testament to the power of strategic partnerships, innovative solutions, and a shared commitment to fostering meaningful connections. This platform not only enriches career journeys, but it also contributes to the development of a vibrant and supportive community that will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy in the SCBUS program.