For plenty of folks, the last year felt like treading water. Personal development or making strides in your career goals might have taken a backseat while you focused on staying safe and healthy, as well as caring for those near and dear. Now, as we begin to enter a new chapter, we can once again hold greater space for our aspirations and long-term goals. So what better time for a new Fast Track mentorship cohort?
Each time we open up a new crop of Fast Track slots, it’s an opportunity that we cherish to pause and reflect. We’ve tinkered with the formula over the years, but the core pillars of the program have stood firm. Mentorship is incredibly powerful and transformative — when done right. But finding a mentor is tough, and establishing rapport and structure to these conversations is even tougher. What started back in 2016 as a rough sketch of an idea, with a goal to scale the magic of mentorship (while sidestepping the most common potholes), has turned into a cornerstone of the First Round community. Along the way, we’ve learned a ton about what makes mentorship really work, for both the Mentor and the Mentee.
To start, we match every single Mentor-Mentee pair based on interests and areas of expertise (more later on what we’re looking for from prospective Mentors and Mentees). And to gear folks up for success, we provide plenty of playbooks and best practices on how to make the most of the mentorship experience, including conversation guides and questions. Each pair meets for one hour every other week, for six total 1:1 sessions, to discuss the Mentee’s professional goals, tips for cultivating leadership skills and advice for weathering the challenges of startup life. Mentors and Mentees also receive invitations to virtual professional development workshops, curated learning sessions based on functional expertise, sessions with First Round’s partners, and more. Along the way, participants also have the opportunity to connect with other high-caliber Mentors and Mentees.
It may seem like a big commitment — and that’s by design. One of the biggest challenges with mentorship is the lack of structure, with Mentees who fear coming across as needy to busy Mentors, and Mentors that don’t want to risk overstepping in their advisory role. That’s why we’re clear about the specific bi-weekly time commitments — so that everyone’s on the same page at the start.
Fast Track has steadily grown since launching in 2016, and we’ve matched over 2,000 Mentor-Mentee pairs so far. We believe strongly in the power of mentorship and are always aiming to increase access to this impactful program while maintaining a white-glove, tailored experience. For our most recent cohort earlier this year, we set a lofty goal to match 500 Mentor-Mentee pairs — our largest group ever. With a whole new crop of learnings in our pocket, we are excited to open up slots for our upcoming cohort — and we want you to be a part of it!
With that, we’re pleased to officially announce the 11th cohort of First Round Fast Track, running from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. If you’re interested in joining our next cohort as a Mentee or a Mentor, we invite you to apply here by August 1.
- Fast Track 11 will run from September 7 — November 20, 2021.
- There will be mandatory one-hour training for both Mentors and Mentees during the week of August 30.
- Mentees also receive access to First Round Network, our curated (and confidential) online portal where you can get support from our portfolio companies, utilize our robust resource center, and learn tactical advice from thousands of Q&A questions.
Who should apply:
You might be a good fit for a Mentee spot if:
You work at a First Round portfolio company. Mentees can come from any functional background, whether it’s marketing, sales, engineering, product, design, people ops, and more. The common thread is that we’re seeking people who are looking to learn and level up in their careers, either as individual contributors or as team leaders.
For the past couple of cohorts, we’ve opened up Mentee slots to Black and LatinX startup employees and founders outside of the First Round portfolio — and we’re excited to once again do so for Fast Track 11. We encourage Black or Latinx startup employees (under 1,000 people) in any function to apply. You might be a good fit for a Mentee spot if any of the following resonates:
- You’re looking to learn and level up in your career, either as an individual contributor or a team leader.
- You’ve had an unconventional path into tech.
- You want to start a company someday — or are already thinking about doing it in the next couple of years.
Hear directly from some of our former Mentees:
“The continued level of excellence in everything that First Round does is inspiring. From an insightful Mentor, to actionable workshops, and access to the Network community, I’ve learned SO much in the past two months. As with many things, this experience is what you make of it. Connecting with such passionate, curious people through Fast Track has certainly stoked my motivation. I’m excited to stay in touch with folks I’ve met and the network (plus hopefully Fast Track again),” says Olivia Reyes-Becerra, Senior Product Manager at OhmConnect.
“I loved working with my Mentor so much! Thanks again for matching us. I couldn’t have predicted how fruitful this mentorship relationship would be and I’m blown away by the match. He was able to help me unpack and solve a variety of challenges,” says Wes Kao, co-founder at Maven.
“It’s incredible how great you all are at matching the 1:1 mentorship. Every conversation with my Mentor was helpful and we were able to dig in deep to discuss problems, really breaking them apart. By the end of the program even my manager noticed a real difference in my performance and I owe a lot of that to progress I made with Andy,” says Bryce Daniel, Product Designer at Snackpass.
You might be a good fit for a Mentor spot if:
- You’re a VP, mid-career superstar or director at a breakout tech company, which generally translates to 10+ years of experience — but we make exceptions for people with an uncanny ability to coach and wisdom beyond their years.
- You’re a current or former founder who can share the good, the bad, and the ugly of startup life.
- You have a strong desire and ability to help rising stars achieve their bold goals, navigate career paths, attack specific functional areas, recognize blind spots, manage and lead teams.
- You have a valuable perspective to share, but more importantly, you seek to understand before you give advice. You use your own learnings and candor to elevate the knowledge of others, helping mentees discover and amplify their talents.
Hear directly from some of our Mentors:
“Thank you for facilitating another Fast Track program (my fourth)! My Mentee and I prepared for and actively dived into each of our six sessions, and I know I benefited immensely from it — not just in being forced to think more deliberately about the craft of product management in my own career, but also in getting to know a talented, driven, and just all-around great person. Fast Track is a model for any program that aspires to foster a community of coaching, learning, and improvement,” says Tim Dang, Director of Product Growth, 23andMe.
“So many great things about Fast Track: my own mentoring match, the other Mentors I met, interesting programming topics, opportunities to reflect on my own journey. My favorite part has been getting to know my Mentee and watching him gain confidence in what he has to offer. I don’t know what your magic strategy for pairing is, but we’ll definitely continue to stay in touch. Thank you!” says Anjali Patel, Director of Data Science Services at SparkCognition.
“Everyone I have met through the Fast Track community has been an absolute pleasure to get to know, and I’ve gotten to hear diverse and new perspectives on a broad range of topics. I have also gotten great feedback from Mentees that is helping me to improve the effectiveness of my own mentorship and refine my style. It’s been a great experience!” says Diane Heiser, Executive Director, Translational Medicine at Prelude Therapeutics Incorporated
Apply here today! The application closes on August 1st.
Know anyone who might be a good fit? Please forward this post and encourage them to apply.