2019 CA Mentor Program - Structures & Google Sheets

Hey guys! It’s been four months since GDC 2019, six months since I became involved in the organization and leading of this year’s CA Mentor Program. I wanted to document this so that anyone can read it and hopefully use it to improve the CA Mentor Program, and make it the best experience for the mentors and mentees.

The Conference Associate program harbors 450 CA who work to make GDC run on a large scale. Many of the CA’s come from all different places of walk in life. Some are students, some are industry professionals, and all of us are always looking to learn and get better at our craft. Over hundred CA’s were directly involved as either Mentors, Mentees, or joined the group mentoring session this year.

January - CA’s are notified that they have been selected.

Start having meetings on discord with Jennifer and other organizers. Reflect back on the feedback from previous years, and always be goal focused! It’s important to stay positive, and providing help when others may be unavailable.

It was important to start looking for Mentors who would be interested in mentoring as soon as possible, so that we had time to do video meetings in the weeks upcoming to GDC.

Before creating Sign-Up sheets, I re-organized our CAMP into 3 different main sections:
RAMP (1 on 1, during GDC resume review session), Zoom Video Meetings, and Group Mentoring Sessions.

I created a Google Sign-Up Survey link for Mentors, explaining which mentoring sessions they would be interested in participating. Then, taking these names, disciplines and the data from the survey, I created a Sign-Up sheet for the Mentees, who can directly sign up for the RAMP 1 on 1 sessions.

RAMP was specifically created to work with 2 Time Slots - it allowed for more flexibility as well as solve the issue of mentees outnumbering the mentors. Having 2 Time Slots allowed mentees and mentors to have a focused mentoring session that lasted for 45 minutes, and allow for Mentees to still sign up for other Mentors if they wished, if the time slots were still open.

When Mentees signed up, they signed up on their own. It was important that I was not spending time manually matching people up - but rather create a system to do so.

What I did spend manually was mainly on hosting the Zoom Meetings. I would create announcement posts with custom made PNG files featuring the Mentor’s picture as well as what they’d like to talk about during their talk. I gave out three announcements, 1 week before and 1 day before, and one as the talk was starting, on two separate facebook pages. Majority of the talks had 3-6 mentees and they personally got to ask questions. I was there to facilitate conversation and be a host, as well as recording and uploading these sessions so that they’re archived for future CA’s to see.

Sunday - Icebreaker - During the actual week of GDC, I took responsibility as CAMP’s organizer and dedicated Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings to fully operating CAMP. On Sunday for the Icebreaker sessions, I worked with Sophie and Brackett to make sure that they were doing the ice breakers, and smoothly transition to CA Mentor Program’s large group ‘Breakout Circle” mentoring session. This lead to some amazing large circle meetings where people got to introduce themselves to people who they’ll be working with for the next few days as well.

Monday - Breakout Circle

Tuesday - Panel and RAMP -

We had a short entertainment session where Godric showed up and sang for us - which was absolutely fantastic. Without his enthusiasm, mic and gears, this night would not have been possible. For the next hour, I hosted a panel of lots of mentors who volunteered to answer a few questions. A huge thanks to these mentors that Jennifer invited, and to every mentee who showed up as well. It was exhilarating to ask questions, and pass the mic between mentees and mentors as well. I had to come up with questions to ask on the spot that would really hit home.

Question 1: What is a mistake that you made and how did you overcome it?

Question 2: What advice would you tell yourself 5 years ago?

In between these questions, I also opened to 1 mentee to ask a question as well.

Next, it was the RAMP. This would have been by far the most challenging and demanding night, if it wasn’t for Miller who helped organize mentors and mentees meet up. Mentors would stand on the side of the wall, while mentees came and started looking for their designated mentor. Afterwards, they would go to a certain location in the room and start having a 1 on 1 mentorship time, where they can ask any questions, ask for review of their work, ETC.

What was difficult was new mentees and mentors walking in and asking if they can join at the spot. And sometimes, mentors would have empty spots, so we can send people to those mentors. If for whatever reason, a Mentor OR a mentee did not have a match, we’d send them to a general group where they can talk about anything related to the industry.

I even got a chance to meet up with my mentor Jeshua and receive incredible mentorship from him. Making sure that every mentee who signed up (even myself) get what they wanted was ultimately our goal, which we achieved.

After the storm - I admit, I was exhausted, but so happy. With so much responsibility on my shoulder to make sure that hundreds of CA’s felt that the program was going smoothly, I needed to be talking with people, running around to places and supporting every mentor as much as I could. I learned that appointing several mentors to help was so helpful. It’s impossible to do this alone.

I was honored to be part of this program and I hope to be able to contribute as much as I can next year as well. If I can, I would love to show other CA’s how they can help run to make the CA Mentor Program better!

That’s it for today! Until next time.