You would think that having a mentor is all you need: they will know what to do and how to guide you. The hardest part is finding the right mentor for you and as soon as that is done, everything will fall into place.
But truth be told, this is where the work, but also the fun, starts for you. You might now think “Oh great, I thought I was here to solve problems and find answers to my questions, not add more!“
We have compiled 5 tips for you that will set you up for success in your mentorship, finding the answers to all your questions, and achieving your goals!
1. Know yourself well
This might sound trivial, but it is actually the most important tip. Mentorship is a very personal approach to career development, and therefore, it is of utmost importance that you know your strengths and weaknesses and can reflect on your intentions and wishes as you approach your professional journey. Getting to know yourself will not only boost your self-confidence and strengthen your relationship with your mentor, but also allow you to excel in the labor market: tuning into yourself will help you make a great impression on your future employer.
Where to start?
- Take a personality test like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire.
- Complete the Team roles test or the Belbin test. These are personality tests looking at how you work in a team.
- Ask friends, family and colleagues to give you feedback on your top three strengths and weaknesses.
2. Come prepared and be intentional
Another tip where you might think “Duh! Why would I approach the mentorship unprepared?“, but hear us out. You don’t need to hire private intelligence or become a detective yourself in order to find out everything about your mentor before you meet them. In fact, coming with a list of 5 thoughtful questions is all you probably need. Ask things you really want to know and add a personal question!
What questions can you ask?
- Why did you decide to become a mentor?
- How do you plan on approaching setting and achieving goals with me?
- What has been your proudest moment in your career?
- What would make this mentorship a success for you?
- Which three things do you before you start working in the morning?
3. Dare to lead
As cheesy as this might sound, it’s true! The mentorship should benefit primarily your growth and development, so dare to take the lead with your mentor! The most successful mentorships are those where the mentee knows what they want to learn or develop. This will give your mentor the direction they need to support you and give you very specific advice respectively.
Easier said than done?
- Take 30 minutes before a mentoring session to set a goal for the meeting. This can be as small as “I want to compile a list of three tips for overcoming obstacles in the application process” or as big as “I want to set up a 5-year career plan for after my graduation“.
- At the end of a mentoring session, reflect on the things you learned and on what you could do with this new knowledge. Do you want to go deeper into the topic next time or do you want to try and apply it?
- Read up on the topic or skills you want to acquire and bring the material to your next mentoring session. Reflect with your mentor on what you read and chances are, he or she might learn a thing or two from you!
4. Everyone can learn from everyone
Just because you are the mentee, does not mean you don’t have the power to inspire and teach your mentor! Having a mentor can be intimidating, especially when your mentor is very accomplished or at an advanced stage in their career. But don’t be shy! There is so much that you know about new developments and innovation, as well as theoretical approaches to your field that your mentor has not had the privilege to keep up with! As much as you can learn from his hands-on experience in the labor market or in a specific role and/or company, he or she can learn from your new perspective and fresh ideas!
This idea is not new! In fact, Paulo Freire (a Brazilian educator and philosopher) introduced the dialogic approach of learning, where every teacher can become a student and every student can become a teacher.
So take advantage of that!
5. Be flexible with your career trajectory
Anyone who has a few years of working experience will tell you: No career path is linear! You might start in one corner and end up in a completely different one. It doesn’t matter if you have a clear idea of where you want to go or are completely clueless – with the right balance between focus and dedication, and flexibility you will always end up in the right place!
Being flexible is a muscle that can be trained, a skill that can be acquired and practiced! Seize the opportunities during the mentorship to explore avenues that you might not have considered otherwise.
- Keep an open mind to the suggestions of your mentor.
- Dive deeper into fields, topics or roles that are new to you or out of your comfort zone.
- Ask questions and if someone says it’s hard to do – go for it! We will support you along the way!
Can you think of more tips for novice mentees or peers who are considering finding a mentor? Share them with us by sending us an email, and don’t forget to apply for free to our program here ?