The Creative Edge Mentoring Programme aimed to strengthen creative talent’s employability, by bringing creative individuals in the early stages of their career development together with experienced individuals from creative industries in their region. The programme ran from January 2013  until June 2013 and formed part of work package 4 of the Creative Edge project. Both Film i Västerbotten and Kemi-Tornio University of Applied Sciences connected creative talents (mentees) and mentors through the programme.

Before the Mentoring Programme began in January 2013, a format for how the programme would function and operate had to be developed. The Mentoring Programme  was designed around three central roles:

1. Mentees 

These were the promising talents aiming to work in one of the creative industries. Mentees could be of any age. They could be a student at university or someone in the early stages of a creative industry career. Creative Edge did however look for mentees who were motivated, and had clear goals in mind about what they wished to gain from participation in the programme, such as learning a specific new skill.

2. Mentors 

These were professionals established in their industry, and who could offer the mentee valuable insights and guidance. Mentors were asked to commit a minimum of three hours each month to the programme. Most of this time was spent with the mentee, but some time also was committed to staying in contact with the programme coordinator, and updating them on progress. Mentors were also provided with guidelines informing them about the programme, their role and the programme’s time-schedule.

3. Coordinators

These were the Creative Edge people, who set up and ran the programme, keeping in contact with both mentors and mentees as it developed.  The coordinator facilitated the mentoring by providing guidance, such as advising mentors and mentees to meet at least once a month for two hours, with goals set at each meeting, that should be achieved by the next meeting. The coordinator was also ideally informed of these goals.

The application process

Applications from mentees were invited in November 2012. When applying to the programme, mentees were asked to name a set of challenges and goals that their mentoring programme would focus on. This also helped the coordinator to find suitable mentors for mentees. Creative Edge aimed to be innovative in pairing mentees and mentors, looking at linking people across fields where sharing skills was relevant. For example an individual developing a career as a screenwriter might learn valuable skills from a producer mentor. A graphic designer could learn from a mentor in advertising. Applications were evaluated, mentees paired with mentors and the programme launched in January 2013.

Lessons learned

The Creative Edge Mentoring Programme was a very valuable initiative, with lessons learned by all involved. A key learning outcome from the Creative Edge Mentoring Programme was that there is no one size fits all approach to the operation and management of such programmes. Some mentees may prefer a more set structure, while others a more flexible approach. An awareness of the need for a flexible and adaptable approach is especially important for the programme coordinator, and adaptation of their level of engagement with mentors and mentees to facilitate reaching the goals set as part of the programme. The coordinator may need to take a more hands on approach to coordination if clear goals are not being set, and progression towards them not made, by the mentor and mentee. Being a successful mentor also depends on the two individuals involved, the mentors teaching style and the mentees learning style.