What your mentor wishes you to know

“I need a mentor” is a request I often receive from students and graduates in the Business School. Most of them have never had a career mentor, they have some vague idea that receiving mentoring can be beneficial to their career but most of them, at least initially, do not clarify their career needs or goals, or think about how to be a ‘good mentee’ – all of which contribute to effective mentoring.

By Fiona Hui

Therefore the first thing your mentor wish you to know is what your career goals are. Before choosing a mentor, think about what you are lacking in building or developing a successful career. Consider doing a SWOT analysis on yourself, find out what areas you will need to improve on before choosing a mentor. It is a great reflection exercise in itself whether you are thinking about mentoring or not.

Research and choose your mentor wisely. If knowing what you need is the first step, then finding the right mentor is the second. Your mentor could be someone you’ve met through work or university connections, or he could be someone you have long admired in the industry. Find out their work history, what they have achieved, and most importantly, someone you can relate to and see yourself in becoming.

Remember that the nature of mentoring relationship is time-bound and its success is measured by achieving the goals you have set out in the beginning. Your mentor knows that. So naturally he’d want his mentee to be focused, organised, enthusiastic and responsive to their feedback.

Respect your mentor’s time. A great mentor treats their mentee like her most important client. She takes meeting with you seriously. She wants you to do the same. Therefore, it helps to send a brief meeting agenda to your mentor before every meeting. Make the most out of your mentor’s precious time. She will appreciate that.

Don’t become a ‘ghost’ or a ‘vampire‘. Everybody is busy, including you, the mentee. When you are under pressure with other commitments, don’t ‘ghost’ your mentor and disappear! Be honest and tell your mentor about the situation, let your mentor know you will be too busy to meet in the coming weeks or months. Still stay in touch and drop your mentor a quick message or two occasionally to maintain the relationship. On the contrary, even if you have more free time, or are super eager to learn, don’t be a ‘vampire’ and ‘drain his life out’ by excessive communications. Don’t bombard your mentor with too many questions at once.

Be positive and energising. We all want to be with people who have a positive outlook in life. If you have setbacks that you need to overcome, it is best to frame your problem as growth opportunity and find solutions with your mentor. Avoid being negative and complaining at all cost. Bring some positive energy to the table, your mentor would love spending time with you.

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