I was only 21 years old when I gave birth to my first son. My friends were all still doing normal 21-year-old girl things; going to university, meeting guys, drinking. We had nothing in common anymore, and as a new mom I had a million questions that just weren't getting answered. Not medical stuff, but real life, every day mom stuff that I needed help with. I needed a mentor, just like so many new moms out there. Which is why I'm so glad that Facebook has a new mentorship program to help all sorts of people connect with people who have been down whatever path they might be traveling, and are willing to share their experience. But I have to admit, I'm probably the happiest for new moms.
Millions of people connect through different sorts of Facebook groups every day with people who have common interests; hobbies, travel, goals, parenting. Essentially try to name something more than two people in the world care about and I'm pretty sure there's a Facebook group for that. But there's a big difference between chatting with people about a shared interest and seeking out a mentor (or mentee, as it were).
As Gabe Cohen, product manager for Facebook Mentorship, noted in a press release:
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.
The original Facebook Mentorship program was actually piloted in 2017, according to Tech Crunch, but this year Facebook wanted to bring the concept of mentoring to Groups. Which makes total sense, of course. These groups are a ready-made community of people who already share a common theme. And people within Facebook Group communities are apparently already reaching out to each other as mentors. A Facebook team marketing member told Romper about a few examples of parents taking advantage of the Facebook Mentorship program via email:
Sandra, a member of the Facebook Group Mama Dragons for mothers in conservative communities with LGBTQIA children, has been able to support another mother in her community through her son's coming out experience.
Additionally, moms in the Military Mama Network can look for advice and support. According to Facebook, the group's admin explained: "With the mentorship program, we have been able to match mamas from similar situations on DAY ONE of their membership in our group. Because of the thoughtful way this program was developed, our pairs know their privacy is secure; the program systematically leads strangers from 'small talk' online to deeply connecting conversations."
So how can people use the Facebook mentorship program? The Group administrators can create a mentorship program by choosing from a few different templates like career advancement or encouragement and support that best matches the theme of their community. From there, it gets a little like matchmaking, but much better. People can sign up to be a mentor/mentee and then the group administrator will pair them up by introducing them. From there, the pair will get guidance through a program where they will check in with each other once a week.
There are so many times in a person's life when a mentor would really help out. Whether it's for your career or in your personal life. There are all sorts of reasons to seek out a mentor, or if you've got loads of experience, to offer your time as a mentor. But finding another parent who you can connect with, who you can ask questions in a judgment-free zone and you can trust to help guide you through? At the end of the day, that could make all the difference to new parents.