Getting the Mentoring You Want

Mentoring is a two-way street, and half of the responsibility for any mentoring relationship falls to the mentee. Below you will find some tips on how mentees can maximize the relationship with their mentor:

  • Demonstrate commitment: As a mentee, it’s important for you to take initiative. Initiating contact with your mentor shows you are interested in the development of the relationship, and responding to your mentor in a timely manner demonstrates respect for their time and effort.
  • Discuss expectations and goals at the beginning of the relationship: This ensures that you are going in the right direction and you are getting what you want and need.
  • Be curious: Don’t be afraid to ask your mentor to explain something in more depth or inquire about ways for you to advance in their field. You never know, they could invite you to a professional conference or to work on their research!
  • Be prepared to talk about yourself: Your mentor can only provide guidance and support as much as you let them in. Sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences helps them get to know you better and connect you to the appropriate contacts.
  • Communicate needs and concerns: If you feel comfortable, do let your mentor know if you are struggling with something. They may have gone through a similar experience and could provide advice or provide an opportuity to talk through options or resources to pursue. Communicating what you want to get out of the relationship allows your mentor to better understand how they can help you develop.
  • Respect boundaries: It is unrealistic to expect your mentor to be available 24/7 or to feel comfortable talking about anything and everything.  Respect boundaries around communication you and your mentor agree upon, and understand the differences between mentoring and other kinds of helping relationships.  For more information, refer to the Setting Expectations and Helping Relationships that Differ From Mentoring pages.
  • Show appreciation: Your mentor is not paid for what they are doing, so show you appreciate them. A thank you note or small gift can go a long way!