Under the banner of SPECares the SPE Indian Institute of Technology Indian School of Mines [IIT (ISM)], Dhanbad, Student Chapter in India has joined hands with Sarthak, a unique mentoring program tailored to the needs of children from low income communities. In the pursuit of empowering millennials for a better tomorrow, the program started in February with 12 enthusiastic volunteers from the chapter as the leading change makers.
Sarthak is a program initiated by the Aanandam Society for Sustainable Development, a non-profit social organization started by an IIT(ISM) Dhanbad alumnus in the Indian state of Bihar. A key motive of the group is to align mentoring as a lifelong learning tool. Sarthak works with many local educational initiatives in India that assist talented candidates each year from economically backward sections of the society and trains them for the IIT entrance exam, which has an acceptance rate of less than 1%. The mentor-mentee process extends beyond than the exam preparation, as profiles are mapped based on career aspirations, skills, common interests, and hobbies.
The Sarthak team shared specifically curated content with the ISM chapter volunteers to ensure that essential training information is being passed to the mentees, in addition to volunteers sharing advise from their personal experience. Reaching out to mentees in remote locations was a challenge; weekly calls of 1–2 hours are planned to discuss short-term and long-term goals and they play a crucial role in evaluating the progress and future needs of the mentees. Besides the final goal of exam preparation, the importance of having a plan, information on stress management, nutrition, meditation, best practices while giving an exam, which can be major contributors for success, are also discussed. A quarterly review meeting is planned with the mentees and their family to work on the long-term goals.
The program encourages both the Saarthi, or mentor, and Parth, or mentee, to carry the mentoring relationship at a pace which matches the mutual frequency where they both feel empowered and comfortable. Mentors encourage mentees to know their expectations and build the relationship around it. They also review the progress and share personal experiences during a similar phase in their career.