WordPress Contributor Mentorship Program: Pilot Program Proposal

Author’s note: This is the original pilot program proposal for the pilot version of the contributor mentorship program that was held between July-August 2023. The group is currently working on updating this program for its new cohort coming up in Q1 2024.

The original white paper of the program (with comments) can be found in the following Google Doc.

The Idea In Brief

The contributor mentorship program aims to provide a foundation for new and aspiring contributors to succeed in (and with) the project by helping them build necessary tools and skill set through cohort-based and 1:1 mentorship. The program is intended as a pathway to help new contributors find their way into WordPress contribution. It aims to set new contributors up for success by providing them the necessary guidance around the project, skills and knowledge around the project and contribution, and help them make their first contribution to the project.

In its ideal form, the program will:

  • Inspire participants to contribute to WordPress
  • Help participants to successfully navigate the WordPress project
  • Provide necessary guidance for participants to help them succeed with their contributions.
  • Help and inspire its participants to make ongoing contributions to the project
  • Help participants find success in their career thanks to the learnings from the mentorship program.
  • Help participants to build friendship ties with individual contributors in various teams.
  • Help participants better understand the opportunities, limitations and tasks that various contribution teams are facing.
  • If mentoring groups decide to jointly solve some do-action or community task, then a side-effect will be that we directly from these cohorts deliver value to the WordPress project.

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Who are Mentees (or participants)? 

  • Mentees will ideally be primarily new and volunteer contributors who start their contributor journey with enthusiasm and are driven to contribute. Contributors who want broad guidance on navigating the project, those who had participated in other mentorship programs can also join this program, or those who would like to make broad connections across the project can join the program.. 
  • Volunteers who are self-sponsored and/or already in 5ftF can also be a part of it – preferably folks who are newly-pledged and want to learn. 

How are mentees selected?

  • There will be a published call for mentees, new contributors can apply there (Make/Marketing can help with amplifying the same). 
  • Experienced contributors nominating new contributors as mentees
  • We will ideally have excellent diversity in terms of mentees based on different social characteristics. 
  • The initial cohort will be small and will have not more than 10 (ten) mentees. 

What is the time commitment required for this program?

Maximum of 2-4 hours per week, across four weeks (one month).

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Who are Mentors (or facilitators)?

  • MentorsEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues. are typically experienced contributors who have been working with the project for a while and are leaders in the project with their contributions.
  • For the initial cohort, we will pick mentors who are sponsored through Five for the Future (since they will then be able to maintain their commitment and access).

How are Mentors selected?

  • For the MVPMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia/pilot program, Mentors will be invited based on their interest and experience in the WordPress project.
  • Members of the contributor working group can also self-nominate themselves as mentors. 

What is the time commitment required for this program for mentors?

Maximum of 3-5 hours per week, across four weeks (one month). This includes dedicated time for ad-hoc check-ins with mentees, which can also happen asynchronously. 

Before the mentorship kicks off, mentors will receive detailed training and guidance on how to proceed with mentorship. There will also be a playbook (of sorts) which is aimed at providing mentors all the support they need. 

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How does mentorship work?

  • A call for mentees (participants) goes out and from the pool of applicants, 10 mentees are selected (primarily new contributors). Mentors are handpicked from a pool of experienced contributors and working group members. 
  • Selected mentees and mentors answer a pre-event survey. Mentors will receive specific guidance, training, and support on how to go ahead with the program. 
  • Make/Teams are also invited to be a part of this program to help onboard mentees to their teams. Interested Make/Teams will have their team members join the program as mentors. 
  • A short cohort of new contributors (not more than 10 mentees) and experienced contributors (not less than five mentors) are to be brought together in a dedicated space (potentially a SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. channel in Make/WordPress). Each mentee will be assigned a mentorEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues. from the cohort, each mentor should not have more than 3 mentees. 
  • The cohort kicks off with welcome calls facilitated by the mentors – there will be at least two calls to cater to different timezones (APAC, EMEA, and AMER). 
  • In the call:
    • Mentees will be given an overview of the program
    • Detailed instructions will be shared on how the program is designed. 
    • Mentees will also get an overview of the WordPress project and how things work.
  • After the initial welcome, Mentors reach out to mentees and schedule their initial chat (to happen in the first week). Mentors will be provided a script to guide their mentorship conversations:
    • The chat can be over text, audio, or video depending on the comfort level of mentees.
    • Mentors and mentees will start by getting to know each other. 
    • Mentors will understand the motivations, strengths, and pain points of mentees. 
    • Mentors will answer questions related to the program and WordPress project from mentees, and will motivate them to go ahead. 
  • In parallel, mentees will start going through the following courses in Learn WordPress in their own pace:
  • Mentees have a full month to complete these courses.
  • Each mentee has a personal tool to track their progress (like a trelloTrello Project management system using the concepts of boards and cards to organize tasks in a sane way. This is what the make.wordpress.com/marketing team uses for example: https://trello.com/b/8UGHVBu8/wp-marketing. board or a personal P2P2 P2 or O2 is the term people use to refer to the Make WordPress blog. It can be found at https://make.wordpress.org/.-style blog). Each week (on Monday or Friday), mentees will also share their updates in the shared Slack channel. Mentees are also encouraged to interact with other mentees in Slack. 
  • Throughout the course of mentorship, there will be a few synchronous video learning sessions. These sessions will be open to all, and will be held as Online Workshops on Learn WordPress; the focus of these sessions will be on practical applications of the content they learned in Learn WordPress. Topics include:
    • Active Listening
    • Better communication
    • Active contributor guidance situations
    • Diversity and Inclusion
    • Leadership basics
    • Conflict resolution
    • How decisions are made
    • AMAs with Team Reps of different Make/Teams

Mentees may not be able to attend all the sessions, but they are expected to attend at least two synchronously. All these sessions will be recorded.

  • Mentees identify the team(s) they want to contribute with the help of mentors. If they don’t have an idea of which team(s) they want to contribute, they will be able to find out using the contributor orientation tool (which we hope to bring to the Make/network): https://github.com/wceu/contributor-orientation-tool 
  • If the team chosen by the mentee(s) is participating in the mentorship program, they are connected to the respective teams and go on to make an agreed set of initial contributions. 
  • Towards the end of one month (or four weeks), the mentorship program concludes. By now, mentees have:
    • A good idea about the WordPress project.
    • Mentees have found a mentor in the project, and have developed strong relationships with folks in their cohort. 
    • Know how contribution in WordPress works.
    • Are aware of the WordPress values.
    • Inspired to contribute.
    • Know the tools and skills required to contribute and to succeed as a contributor.
    • Identified the teams they want to contribute to.
    • Make their first contributions towards their chosen teams. 
  • Towards the end of the contribution program, mentees optionally work with their mentors to create a three-month contribution and learning plan with their chosen mentor. Once the program concludes, mentees start working on their plan. 
  • The mentorship concludes with a graduation call, which celebrates their wins and learnings. Mentors share their journey. They receive:
    • A digital certificate (which they can add to LinkedIn) – (tentative – needs technical + design intervention and leadership approval – completely aspirational.)
    • A note in their profile (tentative – needs technical intervention – aspirational)
    • A Make/Blog post OR wordpress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org//news blog post announcing their graduation. 
  • Mentees and mentors take a post-event survey after the mentorship program concludes. 

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What happens after Mentorship Graduation? 

  • After they graduate, Mentees will continue working with the Make/Team(s) of their choice, and will be connected to multiple team members from their chosen team for ongoing guidance as they continue their contributor journey. 
  • Depending on the level of comfort, they continue interacting with their mentor cohort and their mentors who provide them ongoing support. 
  • Mentees will be assessed based on their ongoing contributions in regular intervals (one month, three months, six months, one year), and will also answer a survey after three months to see how they are doing. 
  • Where will we gather feedback/improvement ideas/etc from this program? A post in make/community, perhaps?

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How do we measure the success of this program?

The program will be considered extremely successful if:

  • At least 80% of the participants of the initial cohort graduate from the program (they complete the course, required lessons, get the badge, make their initial contributions, and create their three-month plan)
  • At least 50% of the participants make ongoing contributions to WordPress after completing the mentorship program

Other areas to measure impact:

  • Improved confidence after the mentorship program (measured through surveys)
  • Improved knowledge after the mentorship program (measured through surveys)
  • Feeling of belonging and commitment to WordPress (measured through surveys)

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Who are the stakeholders or participants in this program?

Members of the contributor working group will run this program. 

  • Mentees (new contributors): Not more than 10 people
  • Mentors (experienced contributors): Not less than 5 people
  • Program facilitators or showrunners: At least 3-5 members of the contributor working group who facilitate the program throughout.
  • Instructors (can be members of the working group or members or separate): Folks who facilitate learn.wordpress.org online workshops for the working group.
  • Team Facilitators (can also be mentors): Representatives of Make/Teams who onboard contributors to their respective teams. 

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The WordPress Contributor Working Group. Group members: 

@adityakane @nao @oglekler @harishanker @yoga1103 @mikeschroder @st810amaze @onealtr @carl-alberto @tobifjellner @javiercasares @sz786 @meher @courane01 @jeffpaul @sereedmedia @cbringmann @angelasjin @juliarosia @askdesign @nomadskateboarding @harishanker @javiercasares @gounder @unintended8 @webtechpooja @thewebprincess @unintended8 @desrosj @askdesign @webcommsat @meher @kcristiano @leonnugraha @evarlese and @nomadskateboarding

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