So, you’re poised to attack your professional goals with a career mentor.
Here are 6 tips for getting the most out of your new mentoring relationship.
1. Be a Good Mentee.
In order to get the most out of your mentor, you must first be a good mentee. After all, this is a relationship—which requires active participation by both parties. To be a good mentee:
- Ask great questions and be a particularly good listener.
- Take notes and file them for future reference.
- Practice what you learn and report back.
- Respect your mentor’s time; don’t cancel meetings or call constantly.
- Thank your mentor! Don’t take anything for granted.
2. Establish Goals and Expectations.
Your mentor can’t live up to your expectations if you don’t clearly lay them out on the table. Explain why you want a mentor and what goals you would like help accomplishing. Write your objectives down and share them with your mentor. Review your goals together from time to time (quarterly, bi-monthly, yearly) to make sure you’re both getting what you expected out of the relationship.
3. Agree Upon Frequency and Method of Communication.
Figure out what works best for the both of you. Will you meet regularly? When, where, and how often? Is your mentor open to communication outside of scheduled meetings? Ask your mentor how long it might take to respond to your email or phone inquiries.
4. LEARN from Your Mentor!
This may seem self-explanatory, but don’t forget the point of this relationship. Practice the skills you learn, store away nuggets of wisdom, and take good advice when you need direction. It’s also important to take constructive criticism. Randi Bussen from The Ladders explains: “When you receive corrective feedback from your mentor, don’t be defensive. Listen, digest and take immediate steps to apply what you have learned.”
5. But…Don’t Be a Passive Sponge.
While you should remain open to your mentor’s ideas, don’t be afraid to push back. If you’re not sold on some advice or a recommendation, ask challenging questions to spark a discussion. After all, a healthy debate with your mentor is good practice for the workplace! Just make sure you are respectful and can defend your ideas.
6. Mix It Up!
Even though it’s a good idea to have regularly scheduled meetings, you should vary what you do together occasionally. Instead of always going to the same old boring meeting room in your office, consider heading to a local coffee shop, going for a walk, or even meeting after work for happy hour. You could also see if it’s possible to shadow your mentor for a day or attend a conference together.
If you work together with your mentor, you both will benefit from a fulfilling and engaging mentoring relationship that will (hopefully) last for years to come. Eventually, you’ll have landed your career goals and will be ready to mentor someone yourself.
This is the fourth and final post in a series on mentorship in celebration of National Mentoring Month. Related posts:
- Why You Need (At Least One) Career Mentor
- 7 Tips for Finding a Career Mentor
- 10 Qualities to Look for in a Career Mentor
The Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.