Mentor/Mentee relationships are some of the most important ones you will forge throughout your academic and early-career years. While there may be advice as to how to find a strong, reliable, and supportive mentor, it is also important to consider that to maintain a good relationship with your mentor, you need to be a good mentee.
Here are six tips for how to be the best possible mentee and make the most of your relationship:
Respect your mentor’s time.
Your mentor is meant to help and support you. However, keep in mind their busy schedules. If you have a meeting or phone call with your mentor, make sure to be on time. If you need to cancel, try to reschedule as far in advance as possible. You should accommodate your schedule to fit theirs the best you can.
Ask for feedback-both positive and constructive
Mentors have a lot of great advice and experience. Take advantage of it! Ask your mentor for advice or their opinion, such as what your strengths or what your weaknesses are and how to improve them. It is important to also inquire about what you are doing well as a mentee.
Arrive at your meetings or phone calls prepared with questions, problems, or situations you need advice on
Make the most of the time you spend with your mentor! When you think of a question your mentor might be able to answer, write it down (regardless of how long it is till you next talk with your mentor). Once you do meet with your mentor, have a list of items you want to discuss. Your mentor will appreciate your preparedness and you will benefit from taking full advantage of the time with your mentor.
Your mentor has good ideas. Absorb them, ask questions about them, and think about them. Be willing to learn and apply their advice.
Be flexible, open minded and appreciative
Having a mentor is a great learning experience. Be open to new ideas and willing to learn new things. Showing your appreciation for your mentor is also important. Thank them for their help, ask them questions about their life/work, and be an equal part in the mentor/mentee relationship.
Choose your mentor wisely.
Be sure you choose a mentor that fits your career or personal goals. It’s important to know your values, your goals and what you are looking for in a mentor. Always remember that the same mentor will not work for everyone, as they encompass different disciplines, life experiences and values. Choose someone you are compatible with to ensure a good relationship with your mentor!
We hope these tips will provide you with enough information on how to be a good mentee. Always remember that it takes both sides to foster a good relationship, so do what you can from your side, and your mentor will most likely follow. If it doesn’t work out, you can always find a new mentor!
Happy mentor searching :)
-Sarah Engs, Nicole Birkner, Emily Kaperst