The Importance of Mentors Module
Step 1 – Learn
What is Mentoring?
What is mentoring? Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool that can help students explore career paths and new ideas and provide guidance in a supportive, professional relationship. It is a chance to look more closely at yourself, assessing your personal and professional goals and what you want out of life.
Mentoring is about increasing self-awareness, taking responsibility for your life, and directing it on the path you decide, rather than leaving it to chance. As a mentor and mentee, a partnership based on mutual trust, respect, and confidence is confidential.
The success of a mentoring partnership depends to a large degree upon your attitude and commitment. Mentoring is typically mentee-driven. Mentees usually take the initiative and are proactive with their mentors. You and your mentor should develop goals and objectives to help guide the mentoring partnership.
A mentor’s role is to help you think through your options and formulate a direction or plan. Do not expect your mentor to give you the answer to every problem. Mentoring is not the same as advising but can offer relevant insight as you plan your career, provide a sounding board for potential ideas or plans, and recommend potential networking opportunities. Here are some quick tips on why every student should have a mentor:
How do I find a Mentor?
First, think about industries or careers in which you are interested. Utilize the Trojan Network to do informational interviews with alumni regarding these interests. You may need to talk to a few people before you feel the connection is right. Perhaps you developed a good relationship with someone at your internship or thought you have a solid rapport with one of your professors — you could ask them if they would be your mentor. Think about the qualities those people possessed and use those traits as a guide to finding a new mentor.
What do I look for in a mentor?
While you want a mentor who can discuss a wide range of issues, your mentor should be someone you respect and can trust. They should be a good and active listener who can provide constructive feedback. They should be able to challenge you, share mistakes and failures with you, and provide you with realistic expectations and a good sense of humor also helps! Mentors will strive to help mentees establish a stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence as they continue pursuing enhanced knowledge and higher education.
Your mentor can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses, as well as help you develop skills for success and a long-range career plan. Suppose you and your mentor share the same employer. In that case, your mentor can foster your sense of belonging within the organization, help you navigate the company culture and politics, and identify the organization’s key players. You can also work through career and workplace problems with your mentor’s assistance. A mentor can provide a fresh perspective — a new way of looking at a problem or issue. You can bounce ideas off your mentor. Look for a relationship in which the mentor is more of a coach than an advisor — one in which the mentor facilitates your decision-making process by suggesting alternatives rather than telling you what to do. Ideally, your mentor will motivate you to do your best work. For more information about finding a mentor, click here:
What types of questions should I initially ask?
- How did you decide to enter this profession?
- How did you get started?
- What kind of education or experience does it take to do this job?
- How long have you worked here?
- What steps would you recommend I take to get a job like yours?
- What benefits are there to doing this job?
- What’s the best/worst part of your job?
- Do you plan to do this for the rest of your life?
- Is the time investment needed to qualify for this job worth the effort?
- What part of the job causes you stress?
- How has your career impacted your lifestyle?
- What kinds of tasks do you do for your job?
- Is there a part of your job that requires special expertise that you could teach me?
- Are there any resources you use from which I could learn?
Questions to ask after the mentorship is established:
- What are your goals and dreams (Short term and long-term)?
- Why did you choose to pursue these goals and objectives?
- What books have influenced your ideas and thoughts the most?
- What ideas or thoughts inspired you or motivated you to get started?
- What is the one action you have taken that has accounted for most of your success?
- If you could change your life in one way, what would you change?
- What magazines, newspapers, and informational sources do you read?
- How do you handle defeat and failure?
- How do you tackle obstacles and roadblocks?
- What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
- Who is your hero?
- Who is in your personal and professional network?
- Who has had the most impact on your life?
Take advantage of the experience and insight that your mentor has to offer.
When does the mentoring relationship end?
It is also essential for both mentors and mentees to consider whether the mentoring experience has served its useful purpose or is no longer needed. It is better to end the mentorship on amicable terms than to struggle with a partnership without a firm foundation. However, do consider staying in contact to provide your mentor with periodic updates. It is always good to keep the mentoring door open; you never know when a situation will come up where you can use some good advice. If you decide to end the mentoring relationship, act on it quickly. Take it seriously, and do not drag your interactions out. Make sure you start the separation conversation by thanking your mentor for all of their time and effort. Detail what you’ve learned in the relationship and how those skills will help your career in the future. You and your mentor’s paths may cross at some point in the future, so always keep it positive. This way, you can leave the possibility of collaborations at a later time.