2021-04-06 10:42:03


  • Having mentors can be important for your career/life advancement.
  • Having mentees can be very fulfilling and worthwhile.
[Mohamed Hassan](https://pixabay.com/users/mohamed_hassan-5229782/)/Pixabay

Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay

Being a good Mentee

Start with the big picture

  • Why do I want mentoring?
  • How will a certain mentoring relationship fit my overall (career/life) plans?


What is your big picture? How do your current mentors fit? What kind of mentors are you missing?

Figure out your needs

  • Determine in which areas you want mentorship.
  • Determine the goals you have for the mentoring relationship.
  • Determine what kind of mentorship you want (formal/informal, often/occasional, etc.).

Do you have any examples you are willing to share?

Decide on the level of formality

  • You can have mentorships which are explicit and formal.
  • You can have mentorsips which are explicit but informal.
  • You can have mentorships which are implicit and informal.

What types of mentors/mentorships do you currently have?

Assemble your team

  • Figure out individuals that can make for good mentors.
  • Determine if you want/need specific mentor characteristics (experience/age/gender/occupation/etc).
  • For each mentor/mentorship relation, decide on the setup you want.
  • Ask individuals to be your mentors (or don’t).

If you have current mentors, how did you aquire them?

Be proactive

  • Your mentors are likely busy and while they hopefully are committed to you, you are not constantly on their minds.
  • You need to check in with mentors as agreed upon.
  • You need to ask for specifics you want.
  • You should set the direction of the conversation, the topics covered and not covered, etc.
  • In some way, consider yourself the leader of the mentorship.

Do you have any examples you are willing to share that illustrate (not) being the driver of a mentorship?

Be prepared

  • Have an agenda (explicit or implicit) for your meetings.
  • Set the stage, give context: Don’t assume your mentor has thought much about you or your questions before you meet.
  • Refrain from vague what should I do? questions. Provide your detailed thoughts, ask for specific input.
  • Guide your mentor toward the input you want/need.

What are examples of good/bad preparation?

Put in the work

  • Meet as agreed.
  • Be fully attentive during your meetings, try to soak up everything. You don’t have to agree, but you should let it sink in.
  • Do whatever homework you agreed on doing.

Any examples you are willing to share of doing the work as part of a mentorship?

Be reflective

  • Carefully consider the mentor’s thoughts, even (or especially) if they surprise you.
  • Getting a second opinion is a good idea.
  • Your mentor is hopefully experienced, but they can be wrong.
  • Some things work for some people, not others. Consider if the advice can work for you.

Any examples you are willing to share of good/bad advice you received from a mentor?

Be professional

  • Respect the constraints (e.g. topics, time) that you agreed on.
  • Keep conversations confidential.
  • Ensure the mentorship does not lead to (perceived) unfair treatment of you by your mentor.
  • Avoid drifting toward a setup that is different from the one initially decided on (e.g. becoming friends). If you notice this happening, discuss it explicitly and decide what to do.

Be aware

  • Both you and your mentor are humans, with shortcomings. Be aware of them. Ensure they do not get in the way.
  • If your mentor tries to turn you into a Mini-Me version of them, call them out and if necessary, end mentorship.
  • If you cannot take the mentor’s advice because of some deeper issues (they are too much like one of your parents who you resent, etc.), be aware and address.
  • Be especially aware around power/romantic/sexual tensions, address quickly.

Any examples you are willing to share where being aware was crucial in a mentorship?

Being a good Mentor

Start with the big picture

  • Why do I want to mentor?
  • How will a certain mentoring relationship fit my overall (career/life) plans?