Building Mentor Relationships

Written by Grace Lederer – Program Advisor, ICPES

Forming relationships with mentors is an essential career tool. They will serve as a valuable resource throughout your career – offering advice, constructive criticism and insight in your area of interest. Below are some tips on having a beneficial mentor relationship.

Take Time to Prepare
Think about what you want to get out of each mentor meeting before arriving.  Are you seeking advice on etiquette and professionalism?  Do you want to be connected to more professionals in your field?  Do you need them to offer edits on your resume and cover letter?  You want to demonstrate that you value the time your mentor is spending with you.  Thinking about such topics before meeting will save you from answering “Uhhhm…I don’t know” when asked what you hope to get out of the meeting.

Be Positive
Attitude is everything.  Positive individuals often gravitate towards one another.  Never meet up with your mentor and proceed to complain about your workplace the entire time.  Even if you are not enjoying your job or your internship, always frame your update in a positive light, i.e. “I don’t see myself working for this organization after graduation but I have learned some really useful tools while there…”

 

Get Their Story
Ask your mentor how they landed their first job and how they moved onto their second.  According to CNN Money, workers in our generation will change jobs an average of four times before reaching the age of 32.  Learning how to navigate these transitions gracefully is essential—especially since people are more connected than ever.  Never speak poorly of former (or current) employers or burn your bridges when switching jobs.

 

Get the Timing Right
You will want to establish that you have their permission to write them as a reference on job applications and see if they would be comfortable writing you a letter of recommendation in the future.  This is a request best suited for a situation when you and your mentor have met multiple times and have established a trusting relationship.

Pick Brain Mentors
Your mentors don’t have to be people you know in real life!  Study the habits and success stories of figures that you admire—some people that I draw inspiration from are Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Malala Yousafzai, and Dietrich Mateschitz.  Following relevant people from your field also provides you with topics to make small talk about before getting down to business with your mentor.      

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