Tips for Being a Successful Mentee


Mentoring is often thought of as a partnership because there are obligations, implicit or otherwise, that each party takes on. One key to a successful mentee/mentor relationship is to be aware of your obligations and take them seriously.  Because mentoring is most often a voluntary activity on the part of the mentor, it is important that you think carefully and intentionally about what you want from a mentor's assistance.

There are a number of things you can do to be a successful mentee: 

    • Know what you need and want from the relationship.
    • Have clearly-defined objectives.
    • Identify problems you believe might be obstacles to you in reaching your objectives.
    • Give thought to and be able to articulate how you think a mentor could assist you.
    • Treat your mentor relationship with care; be respectful of your mentor’s time.
    • Take initiative.
    • Follow up on suggestions and action items from your mentor.

Tips for Successful Mentees

  • Listening

All the best questions in the world are useless unless you can actively listen for the information that will be helpful to you. Be sure to listen for central ideas.  Once you've identified the central idea, consider how it applies to you.   

  • Building Trust

Building trust can take time: As a mentee, you are placing trust in your mentor to provide you with helpful insight and guidance. At the same time, mentors are trusting that mentees will not take advantage of the relationship (e.g., wasting your mentor's time, repeating information not intended for others, asking for favors). 

  • Finding Your Comfort Zone

Most of us can become more comfortable in any situation by being prepared. Some ways you can prepare for your mentoring relationship include:

    • Have a written list of questions before each meeting
    • Prepare a concrete set of goals and objectives for your mentoring relationship
    • Visualize conversations between your mentor and you as if you've known him or her for a long time
    • Prepare discussion points.
  • Reflection

After each meeting, ask yourself what you learned from the meeting and how you can apply the learning. You may want to do some reflective writing in a journal or notebook and refer to it from time to time.

  • Communicating Appreciation and Progress

Mentors are volunteers. They want to receive some satisfaction from the relationship. The only way that mentors can know how they're doing is if mentees tell them. What you have to offer your mentor is your appreciation and an explanation of the impact the relationship has had on your current and future success.


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