A mentee shares tips for a meaningful mentoring experience

Wednesday March 20, 2024

by Sarah Hull

 

Last fall, my social anthropology professor challenged me to pursue my interests in international development and women’s rights. She had no way of knowing that this informal mentorship would play such a crucial role in shaping my studies and one day, my career. It got me thinking: What elements contribute to a meaningful mentor-mentee experience?

 

Mentors

Mentors play a pivotal role in the professional life of a mentee. Under perfect circumstances, a mentor will be someone who works within the field or organization the mentee is interested in pursuing. Both parties should cultivate and maintain a positive relationship, one that justifies the extra time and effort required. In addition, both parties should engage with respect.

Industry professionals in the career coaching sector recommend:

  1. Express care

  • Pay attention when you are with your mentee:
    • Turn your camera on
    • Silence your phone
    • Don’t check emails
    • If in person, make eye contact and give your mentee your undivided attention
  • Let your mentee know that you like being with them.
  • Commit time and energy to doing things for and with your mentee.
  • Make it a priority to understand who your mentee is and what she/he cares about.
  • Ensure your mentee can count on and trust you.
    • Show up to scheduled meetings
    • Be vulnerable
    • Follow up on tasks discussed during meetings
  1. Challenge growth

  • Maximize the mentee’s exposure and visibility within the organization, and actively sponsor the mentee through promotions and recognition.
  • Mentors outside of the mentee’s organization can also provide valuable advice on how to navigate the job market.
  • Ensure that your mentee feels supported and valued
    • Imposter Syndrome is common, especially among women professionals. It is important to assure your mentee they belong in their field.
  • Help your mentee become more familiar with future possibilities.
  • Reinforce that you want your mentee to live up to her/his/their potential
  • Recognize your mentee’s ideas and abilities while pushing him/her/them to strengthen the work.
  1. Provide support

  • Praise your mentee’s efforts and achievements.
  • Provide practical assistance and feedback to help your mentee learn.
  • Be the mentor you wished you had to learn from and admire.
  • Act as an experienced role model.
  1. Share power

  • Take your mentee seriously and treat them fairly.
  • Ask for and listen to your mentee’s opinions and consider them when making decisions.
  • Understand and adjust to your mentee’s needs, interests, and abilities.
  • Work with your mentee to accomplish goals and solve problems.
  1. Expand possibilities

  • Expose your mentee to new ideas, experiences, and places.
  • Introduce your mentee to people who can help him/her/them grow.
  • Help your mentee work through barriers that could prevent your mentee from achieving her/his/their goals.

 For more information or to view this list in checklist form visit: Peace Corps

 

Mentees

 It might be helpful to remember this is a mutually beneficial relationship. You are there to learn, but you should not be a passive participant. Live in the moment, this experience has the chance to change your life.

Some ideas to make the most of your mentorship:

  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

  • SMART stands for:
    • S – Specific
    • M – Measurable
    • A – Attainable
    • R – Relevant
    • T – Time-bound or Timely
  • Set SMART mentoring goals, which will provide direction to the mentor and mentee.
    • Setting a SMART goal helps with deciding the appropriate steps to attaining the end goal.
  • Monitor and evaluate how your mentor-mentee relationship is working throughout. Are you both meeting the goals put in place? What could be improved? Is there a solution to strengthen the mentorship?
  1. Demonstrate your interest/Apply what you learn

  • Take notes – you never know how you will apply your mentor’s advice!
  • Ask about your mentor’s goals and what they hope to achieve from the relationship.
  • Be curious – ask questions about your mentor’s life, career, and interests.
  1. Connect often

  • Follow through and implement your mentor’s suggestions.
  • Share common interests.
  • Opt for Zoom or a phone call over a text or email. These communication methods make it easier to build a more personal connection.
  1. Be appreciative and give back

  • Be patient, responsive, and respectful of your mentor’s role and time.
  • Acknowledge your mentor’s valuable time and experience and they are contributing to your own growth and success.
  • Express gratitude for the advice shared.
  1. Come prepared for feedback

  • Get out of your comfort zone and ask how you could do a task better.
  • Ask for objective feedback
  • Keep a positive outlook and attitude
  • Remain eager and open to proactive learning
  • Come prepared to sessions with questions or discussion topics

Other Resources

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