OpenClassrooms is already well-known for great, accessible courses which allow people to learn at their own pace. Every month, millions of people learn new skills and find new passions through our courses and paths.
Some people want to further their education by earning specialized job training and degrees. That’s why, in addition to our courses, we propose comprehensive learning programs called “paths.”
Paths are made up of projects and courses. They allow learners to get diplomas for sought after careers and enable them to find jobs within their field (in fact, finding a job is our guarantee!).
People who follow learning paths benefit from support from their own personal mentors, which has shown to be crucial for success. So, what do mentors do? Why are they essential for achievement when we already have courses in place? 🤔 Let's dig into it!
Courses aren't enough
Even if plenty of students can simply finish courses online, we can't forget that plenty of students also need help to do so. They need support. It’s especially true when students start a longer, more comprehensive program with projects to complete.
This is obvious when students start asking themselves:
Which course should I start with in order to do this project?
After this course, which new course should I take?
I'd love to find a job in this industry, but I don't know where to start.
I can't figure out how to do this exercise...but is the problem with me?
You can see that the common thread in all these questions is that students feel lost. The question we see over and over again relates to just that: "Where should I go now?"
It's as if you were sailing without having a clear route towards your destination!
Here's where the mentor enters the equation. A mentor is someone with experience who can perpetually see where a student is and where they need to go.
Throughout their learning experiences, students will inevitably hit obstacles. Mentors can figure out what's blocking a student and can explain to them how to get out of a rough patch.
What's mentorship look like?
Mentorship always requires the interaction of two people, and since we're entirely online, this interaction happens via videoconference. The goal is to create the most dynamic, convenient situation possible.
A student's mentorship sessions take place once per week over video conference. The mentor meets their student during a timeframe that's reserved in advance depending on each person's availability.
Between sessions, the student works independently. The mentor gives the student work which is appropriate for their level, their pace, and in line with the goals they wish to reach on their learning path.
The student should read the mentor recommended courses and complete the exercises they have been assigned. The student usually doesn't need their mentor outside of the dedicated videoconference sessions, but they can still reach out with questions if they're really stuck.
Here's the mentorship cycle that repeats each week:
Check in and see how it's going
Make progress on projects
Identify new goals
Take notes on the session
Student works for a week, the mentor may answer a few emails
A mentor's roles
First and foremost, a mentor at OpenClassrooms supports the student on completing projects within their path, then verifies and approves them once they are submitted. Further, a mentor is someone who agrees to share their skills, knowledge, and expertise. Mentors will also help students set career goals, resolve difficult problems, and make sound career decisions.
A mentor has several roles:
Give direction📍: they know how to pinpoint where a student is in their learning and help them move forward. If they see a student's taking on something too difficult for their current level, they'll propose a better-suited exercise, course, or next step.
Reassure 🤗 : if the student's worried about their level, a mentor should reassure them that the mentorship is in place to help them. The mentor is a source of motivation for the student to proudly venture forth into unknown learning territory (many students might give up without this). The mentor should also offer general support and take context into account; this will enable them to better understand why a student is doubting themselves or why a student’s progress slows down. A student in the middle of moving, or with a sick kid is probably going to be less present or attentive. Instead of getting upset at them, mentors should try to understand where the student is coming from.
Represent 😎 : the mentor represents a role model for the student. In the student's eyes, the mentor has "succeeded" in acquiring the skills required for the relevant job or subject. This reassures the student and encourages them to project into their future.
Focus 👇: beginner students get easily distracted. They're motivated to start multiple courses, projects, or paths at the same time, but it's too much! A student should focus on one goal at a time, and the mentor's there to keep them on track.
Here's what mentors are not:
A know-it-all: no one expects mentors to know everything about every topic under the sun! Even in a mentor's own domain, there's certainly stuff they don't know. Don't worry though; it's a mentor's overall experience that matters. For straight-up knowledge, anyone can go to Wikipedia, OpenClassrooms, or millions of other sites. It's your support and guidance that matters. No need to know every theoretical detail.
A salesperson: a mentor isn't responsible for selling OpenClassrooms offers. All financial questions are handled by the OpenClassrooms team, not mentors. If someone asks you this type of question, you can have them get in touch with our support team thanks to the contact form.
This has been just a short introduction to give you an idea of the role of mentorship! In the following chapters, you'll learn more logistical details about how mentorship works...and how to get started as a mentor yourself!