How to Be a Great Mentee

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably found a mentor, or are working to do so. Congratulations! Mentoring can help you grow as a professional and open new doors in your career and even your personal life. Here are some tips to make the most of your mentoring relationship and be a great mentee.

Know what you’re looking for. Give some thought to your strengths, challenges, and values. Have a few goals in mind that you’d like to achieve and would appreciate a mentor’s help with. Consider what kind of help you’d need from a mentor to get there.

Be proactive and prepared. Bring ideas for topics you’d like to talk about to your mentor meetings. If your mentor likes to receive those ideas in advance so they have time to ponder them, make sure to share your ideas well before your meeting.

Let your mentor know when they’ve helped you. If you try an idea that came out of your mentoring discussions and it goes well, tell your mentor! People can’t always tell if they’re having an impact, and your mentor will want to know if the information they are sharing with you is helpful.

Honor your commitments. If you tell your mentor you’ll do something before your next session, make sure you do so. Show up to your meetings prepared and on time, and in the rare event that you need to cancel, give your mentor as much of a heads up as possible.

Express appreciation. Thank your mentor for their time after each meeting and every time they help you with something.

Listen actively. When your mentor speaks, just listen. Don’t do anything else. Don’t rehearse how you will respond. Allow yourself to take in their feedback before you speak.

When you’re struggling, tell your mentor. Sometimes it feels intimidating to tell a mentor, with all their knowledge, that you don’t know what to do or you made a mistake. But everyone messes up or feels uncertain sometimes. That’s why we have mentors! Opening up to your mentor can help build your bond and allow them to share perspective that will help you find a path forward.

Be open to all perspectives, including constructive feedback. If your mentor says they think you handled something the wrong way, it can be hard to hear. Remind yourself that your mentor wants to help you learn and grow. Listen and thank them for the feedback.

Ask questions. If you’re struggling to understand something your mentor is telling you, don’t hesitate to ask more questions. This relationship exists to help you learn and grow, so don’t be embarrassed to share that you don’t know or don’t understand something.