Mentors are encouraged to use this guide as a tool to help anchor and elevate their mentorship pairing.
Introductory Meeting and Mentorship Agreement
Once a match is made, the Program Coordinator will facilitate an e-mail introduction between mentor and mentee.
Contact information and next steps will be included in the introductory email to ensure both mentors and mentees have everything they need to begin a successful relationship.
Please review the Mentorship Agreement (you will be provided) before the first virtual meeting. In your first meeting, the two of you are encouraged to make use of this important document to set expectations and map out short-term goals and high-level objectives for your virtual mentoring partnership.
Monthly Virtual Meetings
After the e-introduction, each mentor-mentee pair is expected to set their own meeting schedule.
In order to make the most of your partnership, both mentors and mentees are asked to commit at least one (1) hour per month to virtual face-to-face interaction.
Mentees will be encouraged to use the Meeting Agenda Template (you will be provided) to keep track of discussion items, key learnings, feedback and scheduling meetings.
Meetings are meaningful opportunities to share questions, advice and experiences that will help pairs to strengthen their relationship and further progress.
These meetings can be supplemented with ongoing communication via email, phone, LinkedIn or other social media channels.
The program also invites all program participants to attend exclusive virtual event offerings that will provide additional opportunities for pairs to interact with one another and get acquainted with other program participants.
Tips for Creating a Successful Partnership
1) Getting to know your mentee, establishing a schedule and discussing goals.
Given the unique circumstances of the 2020-21 mentorship program we encouraging a softer, more holistic approach, to mentorship. For this year’s virtual iteration establishing goals will still play an important role but we want to put more emphasis on getting to know your mentee so that you can provide the right kind of emotional support, advice or encouragement.
For the first meeting pairings will be provided ice-breaker questions to help facilitate ‘getting to know you’ questions. Towards the end of that first meeting, we would then encourage you to start discussing at a high-level your mentees immediate, short or long-term goals. Creating goals with your mentee will lend structure to your relationship and inform how you help your mentee. We will also be asking mentees to attend a goal-setting workshop on November 12.
- Sometimes mentees might not know where they’re headed or where they want to go. Help them work through their uncertainty by asking open-ended questions such as, “What motivated you to sign up for this mentorship program?” or “What are you hoping to take away from our relationship?” or simply, “How can I help you?”
- Determine if the mentee’s goal is feasible given their situation. Working towards a goal that cannot be accomplished can be extremely frustrating, so it is important to consider whether the goal is realistic. Ask your mentee the following questions: “Are you dedicated to achieving this goal?” “Have you considered the sacrifices that you will need to make to achieve this goal? What are the sacrifices? Are you willing to make those sacrifices?” “Do you have the time and resources available to you to achieve this goal?” If after answering these questions, you do not think the goal is feasible, be honest and encourage the mentee to reframe and rework the goal.
- Work with your mentee to set benchmarks for success. Once you and your mentee have determined that their goal(s) is/are realistic, work with them to clearly define what success looks like. What are the specific metrics of success that the mentee would like to use? Discuss their timeline and strategies for reaching their goals.
- Goal-setting is an organic and continuous process. Be sure to check in with your mentee regularly to see how they’re doing and find out if he/she wants to reassess any of their goals. Make sure they are tracking their progress using the benchmarks you established together; seeing how they are tracking towards their achieving their goal can be extremely motivating. This will help keep them engaged in the process.
2) Set Expectations
In your first meeting, use the Mentorship Agreement to determine how and when you will communicate with one another. Commit to those guidelines and renegotiate as needed.
- If you don’t hear from your mentee for a few weeks or they miss a scheduled meeting, don’t be afraid to reach out. Sometimes mentees can become overwhelmed by their other commitments and forget to touch base.
- If, after several attempts, you still haven’t heard from your mentee, please contact the Program Coordinator.
3) Invest in your Mentee
- Get to know your mentee by asking thoughtful questions about their interests, experiences and history.
- Check in with them after any important action items such as job interviews, leadership/volunteer opportunities or co-op experiences to see how it went and what they learned.
- Engage in active listening by paraphrasing what they’ve said to confirm your understanding, demonstrate your interest through your voice and body language, and avoid interjections.
- Find common ground –
- Relate to the student by asking about their Carleton experience—maybe you were taught by the same faculty members or participated in the same club or society.
- Share what you might have done differently if you were an upper-year student or recent graduate all over again.
- Consider some of the following virtual mentoring activities that you can engage in:
Ideas for Mentoring Activities
- Participate in virtual program events.
- Talk about current affairs in the field – how has the industry evolved since you graduated from Carleton?
- Share research or news articles that you think may be of interest to your mentee and discuss those items at a subsequent meeting.
- Introduce your mentee to your colleagues and identify ways in which they might be able to learn from each other.
- Attend a virtual lecture or panel discussion.
- Offer to review their resume or do a mock interview
4) Provide Options instead of Answers
- Try to avoid offering quick solutions. Ask plenty of open-ended questions to help your mentee develop a solution that is best-suited to their unique challenges and interests.
- Make suggestions to help the mentee work through their challenges. Be strategic about how you frame your suggestions. For example, “Have you considered…” or “Something I found helpful in my job search was…” are useful phrases, as opposed to, “You should…” or “You must…”.
- Don’t expect your mentee to follow all of your advice. Don’t be discouraged if they choose an alternative course of action; continue to offer input and support.
5) Tell your story
- In most cases, your mentee will have requested to work with you specifically; they want to know about you, your profession and how you got there. Tell them about yourself, it helps to establish trust and build rapport.
- Reflect on some of the obstacles you encountered when you were first starting out and think about how you can learn from your past experiences.
- Share your knowledge, experience and passion to help your mentee make a smooth transition from classroom to boardroom.
6) Coach them
- Challenge your mentee to take risks or set stretch goals. By providing both support and challenges to your mentee, they are able to gain the most from your relationship.
- Be an advocate by bringing your mentee to networking events in your industry or even serving as a character reference where appropriate.
- Offer praise or encouragement. Knowing that an industry leader like you has faith in them can foster self-confidence.
7) Maintain the relationship
- Coordinate schedules by setting up your next conversation at the end of each meeting.
- Make the relationship a priority and ask your mentee to do the same.
- Create opportunities to exchange feedback. If you feel your mentee’s future success could be improved by making adjustments to their punctuality or professionalism, share that with them. Ask them to provide you with feedback on your role as a mentor.
For questions, feedback or additional resources, please contact the Alumni Mentors Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org