Colab m: WhyDev and Monash have your mentoring bases covered | WhyDev Blog
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Colab m: WhyDev and Monash have your mentoring bases covered

Colab m: WhyDev and Monash have your mentoring bases covered


After two strong years of the joint WhyDev and Monash University initiative, Colab m, the international development mentoring program will proudly feature as a regular postgraduate study unit within the Master of International Development Practice, Master of International Relations and Master of Environment and Sustainability programs at Monash University from 2017.

Students from other university programs will also be able to undertake the unit and apply for cross-disciplinary or cross-institutional study options.

Designed to bridge the gap between postgrad study and employment in the development sector, Colab m connects students with development professionals around the world to develop close working relationships, share knowledge and receive customised, one-to-one insights in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive industry.

The 14-week, ten module program is evidence-based to cover topics ranging from skills and employment to networking and wellbeing.

Coursework consists of both interactive online modules and face-to-face workshops, aiming to facilitate a community of practice whereby former mentees go on to eventually become mentors.


Mentors and mentees spend up to four hours each month working through custom-designed mentoring modules, building a relationship, discussing development practice and sharing knowledge.

Four workshops held throughout the semester invite experienced professionals across the development sector to share their knowledge, views and expertise with participants in an interactive context aimed to enhance connections between academia and development practice.

Objectives of the Colab m mentoring program include:

  • To develop communication, planning, interpersonal and reflexive skills
  • To learn more about the particular sector you would like to work in, building your tacit knowledge
  • To improve your ability to network
  • To build a sustainable and long-term relationship between the mentor and mentee

Designed by the Australian non-profit organisation WhyDev and Dr. Samanthi Gunawardana, Director of the Master of International Development Practice at Monash University, Colab m has been a huge success for both mentees and mentors.

“This unique mentoring program is intended to enrich students’ university experience by helping them understand and build the knowledge, skills and tools required for a career in international development,” said Dr. Gunawardana.

A mentor-mentee relationship is invaluable – both for entry-level student mentees but also for mentors themselves, as it can teach patience, leadership and managerial skills as well as encourage knowledge sharing in a supportive peer-to-peer context.

“Seeing the international development world with fresh eyes again. I think you take things for granted once you’ve been working for a while and it was fascinating to listen to someone who is learning about it for the first time.” – Colab m Mentor
In the competitive international development space – where there are countless career entry points in various disciplines and subsectors – navigating the industry terrain as a newcomer is a daunting task.

Students and early career professionals benefit greatly from mentoring advice from experienced practitioners.

“Being assigned a mentor and having managed to build a solid relationship with her makes me feel less nervous about the sector. It is very important to be connected with someone who can be a friend, a supporter as well as a magnificent source of knowledge.” – Colab m mentee.

This relationship is intended to extend well beyond the university context, and mentors will often become vital contacts for the mentees’ networks after graduation.


Deadline for enrolments is 30 November, 2016.

The Handbook link for Monash Students to apply is here

For students from any other institution, please email an expression of interest to Monash Director Dr. Samanthi Gunawardana:


Featured Image: DFID program to keep girls in school and prevent child marriage (Credit: Jessica Lea/DFID, Flickr)

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The WhyDev writing team consists of Brendan, Megan, Zoe and Clemency. Check out more about the team on the "About Us" page.

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