You’re the savviest Badger in your field and have worked hard to earn your stripes. You want to share your experience with the next generation of Badger leaders, but you’ve found them to be a little “rough around the edges.” Whether you’re a seasoned mentor or a first-timer, these four hints will help you make the most of your mentoring relationships.
Let mentees know what you are willing to offer from the start, whether it is to answer a few questions or connect them with other professionals in your field. This will help set clear boundaries for the relationship.
For example, you may receive a message on Badger Bridge asking what it is like to work for your company. It may be unclear what the mentee is hoping to learn. Are they actively planning to apply for a job now or are they just browsing in case something opens up in the future? Follow up with the mentee to learn more about their request. This will help you evaluate if you are willing to help them and will help you establish your boundaries for doing so.
Model professional norms.
Mentees might not always know the professional norms of your field; they might be too formal or informal. Model the behavior you would like them to show, and don’t be afraid to correct their missteps. This is a place for them to learn, so they don’t make the same mistakes elsewhere.
For example, you are a long-serving judge and prefer to be referred to as Judge Bucky. Your mentee might address you using the normative first-name salutation. Feel free to correct them by saying you prefer to be called Judge Bucky. If this feels awkward for you, think of it like asking someone to call you by your nickname.
Guide the conversation.
Not every mentee will know exactly what to ask. Be prepared to tell a little about yourself: what your degree was in, your professional journey, and your current position and responsibilities. Once the mentee knows a little bit more about you, it will be easier for them to come up with questions. You can also ask questions about the mentee to help boost the conversation.
At the end of your first conversation, set the expectations for following up. Let them know if you are willing to have a follow-up conversation, introduce your mentee to other professionals, or provide further resources. Encourage the mentee to set up the next meeting (it will be good practice for them). If you aren’t available for further conversations, that’s okay. Just let your mentee know and perhaps set them up with another resource instead.
If you liked these tips and want to learn more about getting ahead in your career, check out the Career Resources Library at uwalumni.com/careers.