I have elaborated on the difference between online and on-site mentorship programs here: Mario Peshev’s answer to What are some unique challenges to mentoring people online vs. in person?
Other than that, online mentoring groups could be effective.
Let’s take a similar industry—training/education—and analyze what different models are available and how they focus on quality vs. quantity.
There are plenty of universities out there that offer remote programs for graduates who don’t reside in the same location or are busy with work, family, or other aspects of their lives.
Usually, the large university groups could comprise 150, 200, up to 300 people in the same course. The training curriculum often focuses on the “broadcast” approach with a trainer or professor who is going over the course program without any customized adjustments based on the group.
The selection process for large groups is usually arbitrary, or not as specific as it would be for smaller groups. That brings diversity to the team in terms of cultures, former experience, expertise, and know-how.
Plenty of those courses are tolerant toward less experienced students and try to bring everyone to the same level which translates to a slower learning pace for the more experienced folks. There is little to no personal interaction between different members and a limited time that a professor can spend on people who want to level up faster or learn more from the class.
Private or Smaller Academies
Smaller academies are usually training companies or industry leaders with training branches led by their staff and/or external consultants. They usually allocate a training room in their offices or book a smaller training facility that can accommodate 20–50 people in a single group.
Some of them are generalists (teaching the basics of an entire industry) or focus on certain areas that would benefit students should they apply for a job.
Given the seat limits and the training curriculum constraints, these academies tend to be pickier when selecting candidates and try to bridge the gap between the least experienced and the most proficient applicants. There is extra time that could be allocated during lab exercises or brainstorming meetings during the course and students can usually spend more time with their trainers.
Business Brainstorming Communities
Brainstorming communities are regular meetups or round table discussions between different experts in the same field.
There is less coaching involved although some groups invite industry leaders to talk on a specific topic and run Q&A sessions after the formal presentation.
One-on-one training courses are usually most efficient as they adjust based on the pace of the applicant. The undivided attention that students can leverage for ongoing questions is also beneficial and could help candidates to level up at their own pace, ask the type of questions that would resonate with their former experience, and utilize the best of the expertise of their coach.
All of those training models are available in the form of mentorship programs as well. You can join a large online group with hundreds of mentees and just a handful of mentors available.
There are some “boutique” mentorship programs that are usually more expensive or run by a single mentor who is running a private group “after hours”.
There are mastermind groups between experts with comparable experience that talk about their problems and ask for feedback, ideas, and suggestions.
And there is one-on-one mentoring as well, working on a niche mentorship program with your mentor.
Regardless of the mentorship model, make sure that you understand the limitations of the group and decide whether it’s something that would work for you (based on your availability and commitment). Some mentorship programs introduce weekly exercises or goals in order to bring some actionable steps for improvement while others are less target-oriented.
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