Set high but realistic expectations.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ACTION PLAN
As you begin your relationship with your mentor, you may wish to get together with him or her to work out an action plan. Doing so will allow you to get acquainted on a personal level while charting out your mutual goals and the basic steps the two of you can take to achieve them. To help guide you through the process, your Mentoring Handbook includes a “Goals and Action Plan” form.
INTERACTING WITH YOUR MENTOR
It is natural to feel nervous about contacting or talking to your mentor. Remind yourself that your mentor volunteered for the job of answering your questions, giving you advice, and helping you reach a clear understanding of your educational and career goals. Your enthusiasm and assertiveness make their job easier.
The purpose of the mentorship program is to help you achieve a successful start to a good career. How you achieve this objective together with your mentor is for the two of you to decide upon. Your priorities always come first – it is your career, after all! The mentor is there to provide input, but the decision whether or not to act on his or her advice is ultimately up to you.
Respect your mentor’s other commitments by making good use of his or her time, arriving prepared and on time to every meeting. You may want to provide your mentor with a preliminary list of questions/issues you want to discuss in advance of the meeting.
While it may be tempting to think of your mentor as a source of advice for all aspects of your life, the primary focus of your interaction should be career and professional development. Your conversations will most likely be related to your course work, interactions with professors and other students, and other school related subjects. If you need advice on other, more personal issues, your mentor should direct you to the best place to get that advice.
If you are not sure how to approach your mentor for career advice, here are some sample questions you may wish to ask him or her:How flexible is the career field in terms of hours, innovation, life-style, self-expression, etc.?
Your mentors will not do your work for you. He or she may provide contacts or review your resume to help you be as prepared as possible. It is up to you to actually call the contacts or write the resume.
WHAT YOUR MENTOR CAN DO FOR YOU:
Be a good listener
Act as your advocate
Coach you through difficult moments
Be a friend
Serve as a positive role model
Sponsor you professionally
Help you build self-esteem and self-confidence
Provide you with job references
WHAT YOUR MENTOR CANNOT DO FOR YOU:
Fulfill the role of an absent parent
Provide professional counseling
Be an employment counselor
Act as a social worker
Through your work together, you may develop a rewarding relationship with your mentor that may continue beyond graduation. If that happens, enjoy the wonderful fruits of collaboration and friendship for years to come. But even if it does not, your mentor may still help you kick-start a rewarding career.