So you’ve finally got yourself set up with an experienced industry professional who will be your mentor. The search, outreach, and introductory periods are complete, and now it’s time for you to sit back, relax, and soak up all that essential knowledge from your new career mentor. Well, not exactly.
As a mentee, you’ll do more than just sit and listen to your mentor talk for hours on end about industry tricks and secrets to climbing up the corporate ladder. You’ve heard that mentorship programs are a two-way street, with both sides participating and reaping benefits from the experience. There is substantial work on the learner side to ensure that the experience has maximum impact.
Because mentorship programs involve a high level of personal instruction, your mentor requires additional information about who you are as a person, how you perform at work, and what you are looking to gain from the experience. At the center of all this scrutiny, it can be nerve-wracking to try and come up with a comprehensive encyclopedia of yourself ahead of time.
To make the transition into mentorship as smooth as possible, here is a list of the five best resources for mentees as they embark on this journey of personal transformation.
5 Essential Resources for Mentees
There are numerous resources that you, the mentee, can leverage to help enrich your mentorship program. By collecting information from coworkers, managers, academic resources, and other experienced professionals, both you and the mentor will be better prepared to make the necessary changes in your professional life. Following each of these steps one by one, you will have the foundational resources needed to set the process off on the right foot!
- Needs and Goals Outline
One of the first things any mentee should do prior to meeting their mentor is creating an outline of specific needs and goals. Creating SMART goals is an effective way to make your interactions more productive. Especially for young professionals, it’s easy to lose specific needs and goals in all the advice coming from the mentor. Outlining this information in advance establishes a reliable source to quantify your desired outcomes and evaluate how they are met throughout the process.
- Employer, Educator, and Peer Feedback
During your earlier years in the education system, teachers would hand out report cards and other progress updates at regular intervals over the year. These would contain information about how well you were progressing compared to developmental milestones and the rest of your peers. Most importantly, these reports contain information about areas where you excel and also ones where you could improve. Upon transition into the professional realm, many employers provide similar information in verbal or written evaluations. It’s this type of feedback you want to collect before your mentorship program.
Former teachers, bosses, and peers all have real-world experience interacting with you in a structured setting. They’ve seen how you communicate with others, what your strongest attributes are, and also where you struggle the most. Your mentor, not having worked alongside you before, will need access to this information to develop a complete understanding of your relevant workplace qualities.
- A Guide to Your Personal Expectations
Despite the experience gap between you and your mentor, the implementation of this process is not unilateral. There are plenty of key areas where you will contribute to the rollout of the mentorship program, including outlining your personal expectations. This type of advanced preparation covers everything from the administrative and logistical information about your mentorship sessions to any important personal boundaries surrounding topics of discussion.
By this stage in your life, you most likely have a good understanding of the communication methods that work best for you, what you’re comfortable talking about, and the level of exposure you are ready to face. So, by outlining these right off the bat, you make it easier for your mentor to plan the program’s progression.
- Developmental Network Mapping
Your professional and personal networks cover another resource that will be important throughout your mentorship journey. This Developmental Network Map outlines all the people who provide support to you throughout the career growth process and the extent to which they’ve had an impact. These people may exert their influence in your personal life as emotional support or help advance your position within a company structure. Providing a comprehensive map of the people impacting your life offers a clearer picture of your personal and professional context to the mentor.
- Prep Question Worksheets
One of the most common inquisitions from mentees prior to starting the program is, “what are some questions to ask a career mentor?” And it’s perfectly understandable why that might be the case. For large swaths of your life, you’ve been answering the questions of your superiors, not asking them. Now the tables are turned, and you are able to ask detailed, even personal, questions about the professional life of your mentor.
If you find that questions aren’t coming to mind, some excellent resources outline what to ask your career mentor. For example:
- Why did you decide to become a mentor?
- What are some mistakes you made early in your career?
- How do you build and maintain your network?
- What does your work/life balance look like?
- How did you overcome your greatest career challenge?
With these sorts of questions prepared, you will gain important insight into the life experiences of your mentor. From there, the relationship will begin to develop, and more pressing questions will come to mind.
If you want to learn more about how to better prepare yourself for a mentorship program, contact MentorCloud today. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of young professionals connect with experienced mentors to help improve their personal and professional lives!