Mentorship is a vital part of our organization’s work, and by joining us, you join a vibrant community of students, full-time staff, and other Mentors who want to help students innovate toward a better world.
Benefits for Mentors
Engage in the meaningful experience of supporting students who are working to change the world!
Catch the creativity, energy, and ideas of incredible students who believe a better future is possible!
Reflect on your own skills and experiences and improve your own work and life as a result!
Develop your skills as a mentor and teacher!
Make a big social impact with your time!
Connect to a network of other Mentors from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and industries!
An optiMize Mentor’s Commitments to Mentees
From the optiMize Guide to Great Mentorship
I will find the good first.
I will try to be helpful, not just to be "right."
I will “sit next to you” and put problems in front of us rather than between us.
I will ask you to clarify any important idea that isn’t clear to me.
I will never crush your dreams or make you feel stupid.
I will challenge you only after I have made it clear that I have listened to you and I care about you.
I will ask thoughtful questions to challenge you and help you see new possibilities.
I will acknowledge that I still might not fully understand the issue.
I will help you understand your strengths and how to use them to address your challenges.
I will always let the student make their own decision.
I will tell stories from my own experience to illustrate potential lessons, but I will not give specific directions to you — not all of my lessons apply to your experience and this is your business, not mine.
I will work with you to create clear expectations of what must be completed (if anything) before we meet again.
*This list draws from Brené Brown’s Engaged Feedback Checklist as well as input from optiMize mentors.
Mentor Check-Ins. These events are for focused, direct mentorship, where student teams show up with specific updates and current challenges. We use a “3x3” format: 3 Mentors and 3 student projects spend an hour together, and each project gets 20 minutes of focus. Mentors listen to students, ask questions,, share insights, and maybe even offer to meet again or make connections in your network.
Time commitment: 1 hour per session (you can sign up for multiple).
Weekend Workshops. These events provide an opportunity to engage with students and build relationships in a less structured setting. Weekend Workshops bring together hundreds of optiMize students for guided, action-based sessions led by experienced teacher-practitioners. During breakouts and lunch, you can engage with students or participate in the guided sessions yourself!
Time commitment: Workshops are 4 hours. Stay as long as you like!
Innovate Nights. These are held on select Wednesday nights throughout the Fall & Winter. Everyone in the community is invited to co-work in an open space to share ideas, make relationships, and have conversations to help each other through project challenges.
Time commitment: 1.5 hours.
Practice Pitches. A week prior to funding selection, students pitch their work for feedback. Mentors listen to pitches and give feedback on how to improve before Selection Pitches.
Scheduling: Panels assembled by invitation.
Skillshare Classes. This is an opportunity to teach a group of students about an area of expertise or skill you possess.
Time commitment: Variable, planned with an optiMize leader.
Individual Office Hours. Set up time to build personal relationships with students and support them by listening and offering feedback.
Time commitment: 1 hour sessions, once or twice per month