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4 Tips for Starting or Enhancing a Mentor/Mentee Relationship

For student conduct professionals, establishing a relationship with a mentor can be extremely beneficial in helping define and achieve career goals. Working in this field can be tough and a great mentor can serve as a support, sounding board and advisor during pivotal professional moments. It's especially important for professionals in this field to seek mentors since they are often the only person serving this type of role on campus. Reaching out to peers outside of campus can provide additional opportunities to learn and grow professionally. However, if a mentee doesn't take an active role in this professional relationship, they may notreap the full benefits of mentorship. Participating in networking, such as attending industry conferences or participating in LinkedIn groups, is a great way to meet potential mentors. The following factors are important to consider before starting a mentor/mentee relationship or for an existing relationship to thrive.

Seek the right mentor

Some might assume that if an individual holds a particular job title or position it automatically qualifies them to be a great mentor. When selecting a mentor, the individual's knowledge and wisdom should be prioritized over accomplishments. What can make a person a good fit as a mentor is someone who can not only impart their personal insight, but also someone who can listen and engage in a dialogue with the mentee. It's important to find the right mentor to help p

rovide guidance along a mentee's career path – someone who has led a career that the mentee respects, that has shared interests, and that is willing to dedicate time to a mentorship relationship.

Set parameters

Setting parameters to define the mentor/mentee relationship will ensure that it is an arrangement that works for both parties. The mentee and mentor should work together to establish goals and objectives for the mentee and the relationship, as well as schedule when and how to touch base. Goals for the mentee can include setting or focusing on a particular career path, developing or strengthening skills, etc. Each person should be serious and diligent about sticking to these goals and keeping check-in appointments, whether in person, over the phone or via email.

Come prepared

While both the mentor and mentee should be committed to participating in the mentorship, the mentee should be primarily responsibility for managing the relationship. The mentee should drive the schedule and preparation for check-in meetings. Mentees will get the most value from meetings by preparing a list of topics or questions for discussion in advance. During prep and discussion, the focus should be on asking questions related to the mentor's approach and reasoning behind it, rather than asking for “how to” advice. Every individual is different and while taking the same steps as their mentor might not work for the mentee, understanding strategy rather than tactics can help them understand and set a game plan that works best for them.

Evaluate the relationship

Mentorship is fluid and because of this mentor/mentee relationship should be evaluated on a regular basis. This can include assessing if goals and objectives have shifted, what changes can help make the experience more positive, or if it is time to scale back or end the relationship. The mentee should schedule meetings – quarterly or every six months – to specifically discuss and evaluate their own progress, as well as the progress of mentorship.

Establishing a relationship with a mentor has the potential to greatly impact a mentee's life both professionally and personally. With these tips in mind, mentees and mentors can begin a strong mentoring relationship or enhance an existing relationship. For more information about the ASCA Mentorship Program visit, https://www.theasca.org/content.asp?contentid=158

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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