Volunteers at a Computer Clubhouse, often referred to as Mentors, join a unique community of young people and adults who create, invent, and explore together using the latest in computer technology. Clubhouse Mentors vary in age, background, interests and skills. Typically Mentors are university students, artists, educators, graphic designers, software developers, architects, Clubhouse Member "alumni" or community members.
What do mentors do?
- Mentors help youth express themselves through technology
- Clubhouse Mentors support Members as they connect their interests with the computer technology skills they need to express those interests
- Mentors focus on developing relationships
- Successful Mentors understand the importance of establishing relationships based on respect and trust
- Mentors are mutual learners
- Clubhouse Mentors sometimes lead, but they often follow, as they know it’s empowering for young people to teach others
Ways to become involved as a Clubhouse Mentor
- Working with Members and Mentors on a specific project or activity
- Contributing to the Clubhouse to College/Clubhouse to Career (C2C) Program
- Recruiting other Mentors
- Helping with technical systems maintenance
- Offering a workshop
- Collaborating with other Mentors and participants around the Computer Clubhouse Network through the Clubhouse online community, The Village
- Developing themes for group projects and creating new project ideas
FAQs about Mentoring at the Clubhouse
The commitment varies by Clubhouse, but the standard time commitment is 2 hours per week on one set day for a period of a few months. Of course, if you can and want to come more than that, fantastic! If you feel like you can not make that commitment but would still like to dedicate some time to the Clubhouse, contact the Coordinator to find other opportunities that may be available.
Not at all. The most important skill a Clubhouse Mentor can possess is the ability to work well with youth. Knowing about computers and/or the software titles is great but what the youth need is consistent caring adults. The Computer Clubhouse is not all about gaining technical skills. It's about building self-confidence, exploring creativity and gaining life skills. Without technical skills you can still encourage a Member, and one of the most powerful things for youth to see is your willingness to learn right along side them. There are all kinds of resources to learn how to use the software and hardware in the Clubhouse and many opportunities to improve your computer skills, from printed matter to online tutorials to other youth and Mentors. If there are specific technology skills that you'd like to acquire, ask the Clubhouse Coordinator what's available in your Clubhouse.
The Computer Clubhouse employs more of a group mentoring technique when supporting our young people. Mentors can go from person to person, supporting many Members each day depending greatly on the needs of the Member. They may also sit side-by-side for long periods of time with one Member, helping them with a particular project. It can vary by day. In the Clubhouse, young people are encouraged to follow their own interests and our Mentors are there to support them through that process. Mentors do not teach classes, but rather they learn alongside the Members.
Each day at the Clubhouse can (and most likely will!) be different than the last. Some days you may find that there are many new Members who need a lot of support, other days there are more mature Members who prefer to work on their own. You might find yourself without a free minute one day, and on other days it might seem to you like you are just standing around. It may also take some time to build relationships, so it may take several visits before Members feel comfortable asking you for help. Use downtime by expanding your own learning and working on your personal projects. This may help inspire a Member who is looking for something new to do. In addition, you may want to ask the Clubhouse staff if they need any help with such tasks as file management, data base entry, etc. As you consider various options, remember to remain available to Members for questions or guidance.
Each Mentor should receive an orientation to the Computer Clubhouse, as well as a tour of the Clubhouse space. A Clubhouse Mentor Handbook is available to all Mentors that describes the role they are taking on, history of the Computer Clubhouse and tips for working with youth. Mentors also receive information regarding the Clubhouse rules, various projects or initiatives, and ways they can begin their time in the Clubhouse. In addition, Clubhouse Mentors have access to the Computer Clubhouse Network Intranet site, The Village, which provides all Clubhouse staff, Mentors and Members with project ideas, software tips and an online community to collaborate with others around our world-wide Network. Many Clubhouses also have ongoing training opportunities that are geared towards Mentors’ needs. Ask your Clubhouse Coordinator about what type of training they may be able to provide.
Each Clubhouse has a different procedure in terms of signing up their Mentors, but all are very appreciative of any time a person can volunteer with them. The best place to start is to locate the Computer Clubhouse that would be the most convenient for you to volunteer and contact the site’s Clubhouse Coordinator. Locate a Clubhouse near you.