The bond between a student and a teacher or the guru and shishya in India has always found a sacred place in the relationship hierarchy. A teacher or a mentor has always been highly regarded for the wisdom they impart on to their students which helps them succeed or fail in life. Before learning on the internet happened, students had access to a small circle of mentors which usually consisted of family members and teachers at their schools. But as ideas were exchanged, opportunities to interact with people from across the world increased, students found this circle suddenly enlarged and easily accessible.
While one would find ed-tech startups in India, primarily in the learning space, mentoring, while an age-old concept, is finding its feet as a more organized model. Today, there are a variety of options to choose from, when it comes to mentoring. A student may need some help to understand his/her aptitude, an entrepreneur may need an outside perspective to take their company to 10x growth or a professional may need some guidance selecting the best B-school for their career.
There are enough and more reasons why one chooses to speak to a mentor. On talking about mentoring styles, it is as varied as human relationships. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to mentoring. While some students know exactly what to get from the mentor, some of them may take a while to open up and discuss their problem with their mentor or may not know what questions to ask or how to ask them.
Startups such as MentorYes, Proacademia, Manzar, The Lighthouse project are only some of the examples in the Indian ed-tech startup space, which are helping students and professionals connect with mentors.
MentorYes and Proacademia offer their services for students, professionals, and startups. As a student, if one is looking to pursue a career as an IAS officer, they can find mentors who can provide guidance on the same. If you feel that you can share your wisdom and knowledge with others, then you can go ahead and register as a mentor. Since mentoring unlike classroom teaching is a give and take relationship, students often feel quite fulfilled when they talk to a mentor. Ed-tech startups that are bridging the gap between students and mentors offer services such as career planning, mock interviews, resume review, college selection, application tips, essay review among others.
On the other end of the spectrum, India recognizes that 50% of young job seekers are unemployed. They are ‘technically’ qualified with degrees, but are they ‘skilled and future ready’? Maybe not.
India has one of the largest youth population in the world (below the age of 35) which has been positioned as a great demographic dividend. But with the underemployment and unemployment statistics, it is clear that there aren’t enough opportunities given for the youth to create a future in their country. While the government of India has invested in the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) which has various skill-based training programs, students are often not clear on how to proceed. This is where having a mentor can help. The Promise Foundation says that over 92% of the 28-32-year-olds chose a career in the IT industry, because of the market demand, completely ignoring and acknowledging their aptitude and interests. Hence they now see themselves stuck in the wrong profession and unemployed.
Students who come from lesser educated families are only aware of career options such as engineering, medicine or IAS. These students are clueless about where to search or whom to ask. Ed-tech startups such as MentorMeIndia and Mentor Together reach out to students to develop critical thinking skills which they can use in their personal and professional lives, giving them a broader perspective to what they want to achieve.
As industries develop and scope of professions broaden, there will be a need for individuals with unique skill sets. A mentoring program will help students recognize the distinctive strength that they bring to the table and not run after jobs that can be done by anyone, making them easily replaceable resources. With technology being a medium for information, learning, and connecting people, the mentor-mentee relationship can help students make the right career decisions and professional fits taking them closer to their life goals.
Anish Passi, is the Director at Neostencil which is a unique platform for Test Preparation where you can access live classrooms of the best teachers in India, from the comfort of your home. He is an Engineer from McMaster University, Canada and an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad. He previously founded Testcafe and has extensive experience in the Education industry.