Tips for A Great Mentoring Experience

As a mentor, you can offer your mentee a wealth of career-related knowledge. And you have a lot of life-wisdom to share as well.

Student mentees value a mentor’s personal insights into life as much or more as they appreciate information about what it’s like to work in a certain field. Students who’ve participated in the Alumni Career Mentorship Program have reported that mentoring helped them in two main ways:

  • It opened their eyes to career possibilities they hadn’t explored.
  • It relieved the anxiety they felt about choosing the path to take after graduation.

Mentor hands

 You should prepare, then, to invest time in genuinely getting to know your mentee so that you both feel comfortable sharing personal stories and questions. While no two mentoring relationships evolve in the same way, trust and openness form the foundation of all mutually rewarding mentoring experiences.

Here are some suggestions to help you cultivate a meaningful relationship with your mentee so that you’ll both enjoy and benefit from your time together:


1. Commit to a regular meeting time. When life gets busy, it can be tempting to let a mentorship meeting slide. But regular contact is essential for building the relationship.

2. Respect confidentiality. As trust grows, your mentee may share some deeply personal information and feelings. Treat these revelations equally deep respect.

3. Listen more than you talk. A good mentor guides rather than directs. You have a lot of wisdom to impart—but resist the urge to offer it all at once. Instead, listen carefully, tuning in especially to signals of anxiety about the future. When you do speak, share stories rather than direct advice, and ask coaching-style questions that encourage the mentee to find her or his own way.  This nudging approach encourages independent thinking and builds confidence.

4. Be honest. Your mentee may ask some tough questions about what life is really like in your career and industry or about life decisions you’ve made. Respond with real answers about your career journey so your mentee can benefit from the full depth of your experience.

5.  Keep an open mind. You can help to brainstorm alternatives and opportunities that your mentee may not have considered. Many mentees have told us how much they’ve appreciated the way mentorship has expanded their horizons.

6. Provide a challenge. It often takes someone outside ourselves to see our true potential and encourage us to reach it. You can help your mentee set “stretch goals” that take them outside their comfort zone and foster personal growth.

7. Think outside the coffee shop. Consider ways that you could expose your mentee to your work environment through activities such as a workplace visit, an industry networking event, or a golf game with colleagues.

8. Relax and enjoy the experience. Mentorship isn’t meant to be all work and no play. Remember, it’s all about the relationship. The greatest gift you’re giving your mentee isn’t your knowledge but your willingness to take a personal interest in the student. That’s a rare gift your mentee will treasure for a lifetime.