Having mentors to guide you through your as you make crucial decisions is one of the best things you can do during your studies abroad and as you launch your career.
Mentors use their wealth of experience to help their mentees anticipate and overcome challenges. They also come with rich networks that they can tap into for the benefit of their mentees.
However, many mentees make the mistake of viewing themselves as passive recipients in the mentorship experience. To get the most out of the mentorship, it’s important to take on a more active role.
Being a great mentee is a skill that you should build, especially while in college. Knowing how to get the most out of older, more experienced professionals can be the difference between floundering and having phenomenal career growth.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of mentorship as a college student or recent graduate.
Articulate Your Goals
The purpose of a mentor is to help you achieve your short-term and long-term goals. For the mentorship experience to be effective, it’s important to start by discussing where you are and what you’d like to achieve. It’s ultimately your responsibility to keep your objectives in mind and steer the relationship in a way that benefits you.
Before reaching out for mentorship, sit down with pen and paper and write down your goals. What would you like from a mentor to help you achieve the milestones? Do you need general advice, advice on a specific challenge, or for them to introduce you to someone in their network?
When you schedule a meeting with a mentor, you should always have your goals in mind. You can set an agenda for each meeting—which will also prompt your mentor to reflect on their experience in that specific area.
Schedule and Prepare for Meetings
Don’t wait on your mentor to set meetings. Instead, take a more proactive role by requesting meetings, setting agendas, and preparing relevant questions. While mentors also benefit from the experience, mentorship sessions are mainly for your benefit.
Most mentors are busy career people—a fact that you should keep in mind when setting meetings. They might only be available for a 20–30-minute video call. Ask them what works best for them.
Suggest a weekly or biweekly call or meeting. Having a scheduled slot will save you the trouble of continuously reaching out to request meetings. It will also help the mentor in their scheduling and planning.
Show up for mentorship sessions fully prepared. Reflecting on exactly what you need and preparing thoughtful questions will help you get the most out of each meeting.
Be Open and Receptive
Understandably, you want to impress your mentor. However, for this relationship to work, honesty is key. If you have challenges within a certain area, be open about them. Being vulnerable with your mentor will help them connect with you more authentically and provide effective solutions.
You should also be ready to receive feedback, criticism, and advice. When your mentor criticizes you, it’s not with malicious intent but to help you grow. Being open-minded about learning your strengths and weaknesses will help you develop more self-awareness and faster progress toward your goals.
Most mentors want to improve their mentorship skills. Your feedback is, therefore, important to them. Feel free to share any ideas on how to improve your sessions. Let them know how they can help you better.
However, don’t be too critical of your mentor—after all mentorship is mostly for your benefit. If they feel that you’re unappreciative of their efforts, they won’t have the incentive to help you.
Remember, effective feedback is:
- Specific rather than general
- Descriptive rather than evaluative
- Directed toward behavior the receiver can control
- Accountable to the needs of both the receiver and provider
- Solicited rather than imposed
- Well timed and clear
Nurture the Relationship
Don’t leave it to the mentor to drive the mentorship experience. Take the initiative to broaden and deepen your connection with your mentor.
Think of ways you can also help your mentor. For instance, you can send them insightful articles in their area of interest, highlight relevant opportunities they can pursue, and introduce them to the right people.
Send them a “thank you” note after your sessions. Also, don’t forget to congratulate them when they achieve milestones. Such gestures can make a world of difference when it comes to the quality of your mentorship experience.
Having a mentor is a wonderful opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. Sign up for 8B’s mentorship program to get matched with the perfect mentor.