How to be a Great Mentor


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How to be a Great Mentor

A great mentor takes the lead in fostering the mentor/mentee relationship.  Because the mentor has more experience than the student mentee, he or she can be an objective advocate for the student--a sounding board for the mentee's ideas and developing goals.  In this way, the mentor can help the mentee sift through the variety of professional opportunities and directions available. 


Additionally, great mentors provide a link between the academic theories in which the student is immersed and the realities of the professional workforce; offer career guidance and counsel; suggest career paths and  networking strategies; and assist with value-based career decision-making practices.


Great mentors are:

  1. Educators: Mentors should share their own life experiences and careers paths--understanding that the mentee will have had different experiences and are developing different goals.
  2. Guides: Mentors assist their mentee to find his or her own direction, without doing the work for their protégé. 

  3. Listeners: Mentors listen to their mentee and give their full attention during their time together.
  4. Practical and Accessible: Mentors offer practical advice (and sometimes play devil's advocate) including strategies for handling professional challenges.  Mentors show student mentees that they are available as a resource.
  5. Positive and Supportive: A mentor should encourage the mentee in his or her pursuits.
  6. Role Model: A mentor should be a role model and lead by example. 


Great mentoring relationships flourish when the mentoring pair:

  1. Develop a relationship based on trust and mutual respect
  2. Set goals for both the mentoring relationship and the protégé's future career.

  3. Actively engage in meeting time.  This can include gathering and preparing materials and information ahead of time.  An informal agenda outlining the direction of the discussion can help keep you on track.
  4. Plan activities together.  Go to lunch together, host an on-site visit at the mentors place of business or a 'shadow' day.  Introduce your mentor to your colleagues to practice networking and informal interviewing skills. Experiential opportunities are priceless opportunities for students exploring professional options.
  5. Provide each other feedback on how the relationship is developing.  Use this information to make informed decision about the direction of the mentoring relationship.
  6. Have fun and be creative in the process. 


Adapted from: FOSTER YOUR MENTORING RELATIONSHIP and information from Merrimack College Mentoring program