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Copenhagen Business School

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Copenhagen Business School

CBS has the biggest mentor programme in Northern Europe – and it’s still growing

(Photo by Anna Holte)

With 137 mentors and a goal of reaching 400 mentees in a programme representing 61 nations, it’s the biggest of its kind in Northern Europe – but CBS Business has even bigger ambitions. And, uniquely, its success is due partly to group mentoring.

News |   22. Oct 2019

Kasper Christensen

Journalist

As a mentee with the CBS Business Mentor Programme, you can get help from a mentor when you’re moving from your bachelor to a master’s degree, when you’re searching for your first student job and when you’re about to start your own career.

This year, the programme begins in November, and according to Berit Jebjerg, Career Counsellor at CBS Business, most of the students tend to apply for the same reason.

“Most students use the programme to get an overview of what they can do with their educations and which opportunities they have in the job market, while also gaining an appreciation of what the labour market expects of them,” she says.

The current version of the mentor programme launched three years ago replaced the former academies, which were reserved exclusively for elite students with high grades.

Today, the mentor programme is available for all students at CBS.

“We’ve created this programme at CBS Business because we think all students should have potential access to a mentor, as there’s a lot of value in it for everyone,” says Berit Jebjerg.

A rare success

Ever since the mentor programme became generally available, the influx of students – or mentees – has increased significantly.

During the first three years of running the new mentor programme, the number of applicants rose from 200 in 2017 to 300 in 2018. This year CBS Business has set an ambitious target of attracting 400 mentee applicants.

The large number of mentees, in addition to the 137 mentors, makes the CBS Business Mentor Programme the biggest of its kind in Northern Europe.

And although 137 mentors may sound impressive, CBS Business has actually received around 300 applications from former students who want to become mentors.

“We are very happy that so many former students have applied, but we’ve had to limit the number of mentors to 137, because we don’t have the means and capacity for more. So, if we are to increase the number of mentors in the future, we’ll need more resources,” Berit Jebjerg says.

But being the biggest mentor programme in Northern Europe is not due solely to the large number of mentees and mentors involved. It is also based on how the programme works.

“As far as CBS Business is concerned, we are the only ones mentoring with a group format. This means that three to six mentees share one mentor, and that is quite unique because actually group mentoring relatively rarely succeeds,” Berit Jebjerg says.

A mix of 61 nations

According to Berit Jebjerg, this format works at CBS for several reasons.

“We found out that group mentoring gives our students a lot of value because they gain a whole new network and better understanding of diversity as we mix international and Danish students. It also allows them to open up more about themselves when the relationship with the mentor is shared with other students,” she says and continues:

Furthermore, three years ago, CBS Business was contacted by a former CBS student from Singapore who had read about the mentor programme.

He asked if he could join as a mentor, and ever since, the mentor programme has been using Skype mentoring as well. Today, the programme has 43 former students mentoring from all around the world, which is another reason why the programme is so extensive.

As an international business university, diversity is a core aspect of CBS’ identity. This is also clearly reflected by the many mentors and mentees engaged in the programme.

We found out that group mentoring gives our students a lot of value because they gain a whole new network and better understanding of diversity as we mix international and Danish students

Berit Jebjerg, Career Counsellor at CBS Business

“Right now, the CBS Business Mentor Programme includes members from 61 nations, including some nationalities that I didn’t know were represented at CBS,” Berit Jebjerg says.

“But the greatest interest seems to be coming from Germany. In fact, only 40 percent of the programme members come from Denmark. So, in many ways, this mentor programme is truly international.”

Personal development and new perspectives

The scale of the programme would seem to reflect its importance to its members. And according to Berit Jebjerg, this assumption is correct.

“I think that for most of our mentors and mentees, the programme is a great way to develop personally while obtaining new perspectives,” she says.

“On a professional level, the students become more aware of what they can contribute to the job market, and how they can use their CBS educations. Mentors, on the other hand, highlight the importance of being able to show that they’ve helped their mentees in the right direction.”

Not only do the students and mentees find it important to get involved. In Berit Jebjerg’s experience, the CBS Business Mentor Programme is also of considerable importance to the corporate world.

“The business community views the programme as a very important way to prepare students for the labour market, because aside from having academic and theoretical skill sets, they also become aware of how the job market actually works,” she says.

“My group last year was an international group with mentees from Sweden, Greece, Lithuania and me from Germany,” says Friederike Forsting. (Photo by Mette Koors)

“I’d say go for it!”

Last year, CBS student Friederike Forsting relocated from Germany to Denmark to study her master’s degree in International Business Communication. Soon after hearing about the CBS Business Mentor Programme, she applied to become a mentee.

“It sounded like a very interesting opportunity to talk to a mentor working in the field I want to join after graduating. At the same time, I could get to meet new people and create a professional network,” she says.

Now, Friederike Forsting has been a mentee for a year, and just like her fellow mentees in her mentoring group, she’s aiming to stay in Denmark and find a job after graduating.

According to her, the mentor programme has been very helpful by providing guidance and clarifying aspects of the Danish labour market.

“My group last year was an international group with mentees from Sweden, Greece, Lithuania and me from Germany, and we didn’t know much about how the Danish business industry works,” Friederike Forsting says and continues:

“But our mentor was Danish, and she really provided us with many insights into the Danish job market and the work culture here.”

Besides these insights and clarification, Friederike Forsting has also gained a lot from the mentor programme on other levels.

“What’s really great about the programme is, on the one hand, the personal exchange on a direct level. You get to talk to a professional from the business community about deeper issues than you would at a basic networking event.”

“On the other hand, there’s the interaction with your fellow mentees. In my group, we managed to create a safe atmosphere that allowed us to talk about everything on our minds – both personally and regarding future job plans,” she says.

Friederike Forsting is continuing as a mentee on this year’s programme and in her opinion, there are no downsides whatsoever. Therefore, she does not hesitate to urge other students to apply.

“I’d definitely recommend it to other students. They’ll get the chance to meet and create a network with fellow mentees while learning from the mentor’s experience. So, I’d say go for it!”

“If I needed some guidance, others might as well”

Marritt Araba Biney Jensen is a CBS alum and works as a Finance Specialist at the music marketing company Linkfire. Last year, she became a mentor for the CBS Business Mentor Programme, and her reason for applying was pretty simple.

Marritt Araba Biney Jensen, a CBS alum, became a mentor last year. (Photo: Anne M. Lykkegaard)

“While studying, I felt I was missing some guidance and inspiration from job market professionals who could advise me on how I could use my education and what kinds of jobs I could get after graduating,” says Marritt Araba Biney Jensen and continues:

“Some educations are designed for specific jobs, so if you study a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you become a nurse. But with several CBS educations, figuring out your job market options afterwards can be quite difficult.”

“So, I thought that if I needed some guidance while studying, then others might as well,” she says.

While the mentoring programme is primarily intended to benefit the mentees, mentors also have a lot to gain, according to Marritt Araba Biney Jensen.

“I feel I have benefited a lot on a personal level. Teaching others is meaningful, and I also get new perspectives on various issues when mentees, who lack my experience, ask me different questions,” she says and adds:

“When mentees appreciate your guidance, you also receive a lot of credibility points within the industry where you work. So, you benefit a great deal on a professional level and, all in all, it has definitely been a great experience.”

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