It can be hard to get started in finding and engaging a mentor. Part of this comes from not knowing how to advocate for oneself or knowing the questions to ask. Mentorship programs can help overcome this obstacle by providing guidance to mentors in leading conversations that will help mentees better define goals for the engagement. Providing a playbook to both the mentor and mentee also work to set expectations and a shared vision for the mentorship engagement.
As with other engagements, it is important for mentors and mentees to honor commitments to build trust. Communication expectations including preferred communications (email, texts, calls), acceptable response times, and meeting frequency reduce misunderstandings that can harm the relationship and outcomes of the program.
While we tend to focus on the benefits to the mentee, mentors learn from mentees and fellow mentors. Mentors exchange communications and engagement tips and sharing resources.
Mentorships come in different shapes and sizes as well. They can be informal such as learning about applying for job, negotiating an offer, and navigating corporate culture from older siblings. Our Fridays@4 sessions are also a form of mentorship. Small group mentorship programs can meet the needs of a larger pool of mentees. Mentees learn from the mentor and from one another, building important peer relationships.
Today’s programs partner mentors and mentees remotely over different time zones and continents. Teams may work asynchronously as well as synchronously, using technologies like WhatsApp or video chat to bridge distance. Programs may also include micro-mentorships or limited engagements targeted to a specific challenge of the mentee. Mentorship programs are also an opportunity for representation and serving a community.
As you develop professionally, make yourself open to serving as a mentor by participating in groups like Fridays@4. Offer to be a sounding board or to be available for a follow-up chat. As a mentor or mentee, curiosity and flexibility may open new doors to new opportunities you may not have otherwise considered.
The Importance of Mentorship was a session held January 13, 2023. Chelseah Mesa (Federal Communications Bar Association) led a conversation about mentorship programs with panelists Jennifer Alluisi, MA Ed, CAE (Custom Management Group), Benita Stocks (NAIOP Northern Virginia), and Christopher Young, CAE (DECA).
View this session and more in our event archives.
Following are some additional resources to learn more about mentorship: