Not Your Grandparents’ Mentoring Program

June 13, 2019

By Adam Balinski, Director of External Relations

We had just made our pitch to 104 first-year law students. Knowing the typical participation rates for mentoring programs at other schools, Gayla Sorenson, Assistant Dean of External Relations, and I probably should have been happy had 30 students signed up for our new professional development coaching program.

The program is not mandatory. It does not offer class credit. It is one more thing on students’ already saturated to-do lists. Mentoring programs at other schools are fortunate to have 15% of students sign up. But this mentoring program is unlike any mentoring program at any other school.

On my way out of the classroom and back to my office, several students independently approached me to tell me how excited they were about the new program. They were looking for something like this.

As thrilling as that was to hear, it was even more wonderful to see the number of students who signed up. An incredible 94% of 1Ls have signed up for the program. And from what we have heard, the program is already making a difference.

“I have loved being involved with the Alumni Allies program!” said Jonathan O. Hafen, an alumnus participating in the program’s pilot. “It is truly a feel-good experience for all, and offers an easy opportunity to improve the lives and careers of both students and alumni.”

Hafen is matched with McKenna Rammell, a 1L from San Antonio, Texas.

“I have only talked to him once so far, but I already feel a huge weight off my shoulders,” Rammell said. “This is the exact combination I needed.”

What makes the program so special? Why the pull? Why the momentum? Well, for starters, it has an awesome name. Whoever came up with “Alumni Allies” is a complete genius. Alliterative and meaningful—the program is aimed at fostering mutually beneficial, long-term relationships. Seriously, someone needs a raise. . . Beyond the marvelous moniker, the program has great guts. Instead of haphazard mentor matching, the program leverages an algorithm to gauge compatibility based on personality type. The algorithm is owned by Match Group (the parent company of Tinder and other dating tools). But don’t worry, no one is asked to swipe right or left; the program shoots for purely platonic relationships. The thinking is that personality matching will help students and alumni create more organic, long-term professional relationships. In addition to personality types, students are matched by hobbies and personal interests, not just legal and geographical interests, like program predecessors. Dean Sorenson had the creative spark for the revolutionary program and leaned on two particular alumni to make it a reality: BYU law professor Curtis Anderson (former Match Group general counsel) (’94) and current Match Group general counsel Jared Sine (’07).

The program itself is quite simple. One-hour, one-on-one, monthly mentoring discussions about core professional competencies for about a year. No obnoxious paperwork. No regimented hoops to hop.

“The open structure of the Alumni Allies program allows alumni and law students to tailor their work together to minimize the time commitment and maximize the positive impact,” said Hafen.

If you are interested in mentoring, please take this two-minute personality test.