When taking the first steps on a new career path, a good mentor can be a crucial support. Mentorship is a relationship that foregrounds professional growth (particularly that of the mentee), and supports both parties in expanding their skills and developing their careers.
Both mentors and mentees can benefit from a mentoring relationship. Mentees get to soak up the insights their mentors have acquired through experience on the job and in life, and receive tips and advice customized to their unique needs and job contexts. Mentors get to impart hard-earned wisdom that builds a legacy within their organization or sector, and learn from the fresh eyes and perspectives of their mentees.
Mentees are typically less experienced and are sometimes, but not always, younger than the mentor. It’s important for both mentor and mentee to be actively engaged in the relationship.
Choosing a Mentor
Good professional chemistry between mentor and mentee can help to make the mentorship feel less like a checklist and more like a constructive, enjoyable exchange of ideas. Mentees should look for a person whom they are comfortable approaching and where conversation flows naturally. When choosing a Mentor Mentees should approach someone they respect and admire professionally. Mentors do not need to be in the same department or field as the Mentee.
Look for a mentor who:
- You respect;
- Will take their role as your Mentor seriously;
- Can make time to speak with you one-on-one several times over the course of your internship;
- You can have a good conversation with;
- You find insightful and interesting; and
- Challenges and inspires you!
If your mentor is in your field, look for someone who:
- Has a job or position that you would like to have someday; and
- Tackles issues, challenges, or ideas in which you share an interest.
If your mentor is outside your field, look for someone who:
- Has transferable skills relevant to your field (e.g. troubleshooting, project management); and
- Works in an area that complements your skill-set.
Mentees should be prepared to take initiative in arranging meetings, and mapping their goals for each conversation and the relationship as a whole.
The following resources will help both mentor and mentee structure their goals and get the most out of their conversations.