So you've found a mentor? That's great! You should be proud of yourself - it takes courage to reach out to someone for mentoring. This could be the start of a meaningful relationship that helps you grow and progress along your academic and career journey. But how to make the most of this new opportunity? We've compiled a list of tips to ensure that your mentorship is as productive and mutually enjoyable as possible.
Be clear about your needs
Let your mentor know what you want to get out of the relationship. Set a goal and work with your mentor to reach it. Your mentor can't help you as effectively if they don't know what you're hoping to gain.
Be open to feedback
Your mentor has your best interests at heart. Sometimes the most valuable thing they can offer is honest - even critical - feedback. Constructive criticism may be hard to hear, but your mentor only gives it in order to help you grow and meet your goals. Avoid being defensive, be open to coaching, and stay receptive to your mentor's advice.
You're responsible for your own learning. Your mentor is there to give you tools and guidance - not to do everything for you. Be sure to ask questions, show up prepared, and actively participate in conversations.
Respect your mentor by showing up prepared and on time. Remember that they're donating their time and energy, so make sure that you don't take advantage of them or take them for granted. Talk with your mentor about how much time they're able to give - and then respect those boundaries.
Your mentor is there to help you overcome obstacles - and in doing so move out of your comfort zone. Be open to trying new things and making mistakes.
Be open and honest about who you are - personally and professionally/academically. Don't be afraid to talk about your background, struggles, hopes, and fears.
Curiosity is an essential trait in a mentee! Ask thought-provoking questions and have deep discussions with your mentor. Don't forget to ask them about their own personal experiences with navigating college and career.
Never be afraid to ask questions - even if the answer seems obvious. Ask for and welcome feedback. Be willing to be challenged and recognize that discomfort is part of growth.
When your mentor gives you advice or homework - do it! Following up shows your commitment to your own growth and development, as well as your appreciation of your mentor's guidance.
Give back by asking how you can help your mentor. You might not feel as if you have anything to offer, but it could be as simple as liking your mentor's posts, sharing an article with them, or attending their lecture. Or maybe your mentor has a favorite nonprofit that you could volunteer for - and learn from.
Say thank you
This may sound obvious, but it's not uncommon for mentees to forget to thank their mentors. Remember to express gratitude to your mentor - and mean it!
Mentorship is a relationship, and like any relationship it takes mutual effort to sustain. Keep these tips in mind and you'll be off to a fabulous start!
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