Welcome to beginning a mentoring relationship! As a mentee, you gain access to the experience and knowledge of a seasoned professional, whose guidance and support will enhance your professional development. First, however, you, the mentee, should begin with some introspection. Before even having a mentor in mind, take time to read about the mentorship process and think about what you would like to achieve through this relationship. Some questions you might contemplate are:
- What career goals would you like to achieve?
- What are the skills you want to develop?
- What type of organizational knowledge do you want to know?
- What new partnerships and alliances are you hoping to make?
Perhaps taking notes on the questions above will help you formulate the kind of mentor and the sort of mentoring relationship you are seeking for yourself. Review your thoughts and your notes – now you have a framework through which to find the right mentor for you. For a professional development-driven mentoring relationship, think of individuals who have the career path with work experience you would envision for yourself. Spend some time researching potential mentors – perhaps on LinkedIn or through networking – you never know who knows who, so activate your own network. Remember, your mentor should not be someone you know well or someone who is your direct or indirect supervisor. You should not expect your mentor to secure your next promotion or ensure your short-term career change. Mentors are there to support and advise you, but it is up to you to achieve your goals.
When you are ready, reach out to your first choice. Consider asking your prospective mentor for a brief coffee meeting first to gauge your dynamics and relationship. If you feel that you are ready for it and that individual seems to be a good fit for you, inform them that you’d like to start a year-long mentoring relationship (or a shorter term relationship depending on how you feel) and ask if they would consider being your mentor. Tell them a little about yourself and what you hope to achieve through the process. Give them an outline of their responsibilities in this relationship. For example, for a period of one year, you would like to meet with them once a month. During your meetings, you would like their guidance and advice on achieving certain career goals or developing certain skills. Being a mentor requires time and dedication, so do not be phased if people turn you down. Keep reaching out until you find someone willing to commit to this relationship with you.
Once you have found a mentor, it is time to plan your first meeting, which we will be discussing further in Step 2 next month. Congratulations on beginning your mentorship journey and good luck!