How To Be A Great Mentee : Your Role In Keeping The Mentor-Mentee Relationship Positive And Rewarding

BY: Eugenia M. Orr, Ed.D.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Oprah Winfrey

Navigating your professional pursuits can be an easier journey with the help of a mentor – someone you admire who as Oprah Winfrey says helps you see the hope you have inside. Your mentor will bring that hope, talent and your abilities out and elevate you to achieve your dreams and goals. It takes a special person to mentor others – but a mentee is person who is just as special and open and is someone who can receive from others.

There are steps that you can take in being an open and receptive mentee to ensure that you and your mentor get the most out of your relationship.

  • Be willing to work. Think of your relationship with your mentor like being a student/ teacher exchange. They provide the guidance and connections, but you have to do the work. Remember that not only do you represent yourself, but you are now a reflection of your mentor, too. Don’t waste your time or theirs but not doing your part.
  • Be respectful. One commands respect, they do not demand it. And if you want it – you must also give it. An effective mentee is giving of respect for their mentor, who is taking time away from their work and family to help you realize your goals. Many are called to mentor others, but it doesn’t mean that you should take advantage of a mentor’s time either.
  • Have your questions ready. Do your research and be ready with your questions and the topics you want to discuss with your mentor. This is the time to find out all you want to know and discuss the topics that will serve your pursuits, whether personal or professional. It’s not your mentor’s job to figure out what you should know – that’s based on who and what you are and want to pursue.
  • Be ready for healthy debates. While you should always be open to what your mentor advises, a good mentee will also know that not everything is for everyone. Remember that your mentor’s advice will stem from their own lived experiences which are going to be different than yours. So, don’t be afraid to disagree and adapt the advice to what will work for who you are.
  • Be ready for the long-haul. The mentor-mentee relationship can and should be a long[1]term relationship. Your mentor should be someone who will help you grow throughout your career. Don’t expect to get everything you need in a couple of meetings, but also don’t think that your mentor is on call whenever you need them.
  • Get out of your own way. Don’t let your ego prevent you from receiving what your mentor is trying to share. You wanted a mentor for a reason, so don’t let feelings get in the way. Constructive criticism is good for everyone – now if your mentor is demeaning and disrespectful then it’s time to move on. But your mentor is there to get you to another level, which may be uncomfortable. Be ready to learn, adapt and move.
  • Be grateful and reciprocal. Just because you are the mentee, doesn’t mean that you don’t have skills and value to share with your mentor. Show your appreciation for their time and talent in your own special and unique way.

“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.” — J Loren Norris

Native Chicagoan, Dr. Eugenia Orr is a nationally published freelance writer and journalist, an enthusiastic speaker, a devoted daughter, and a lover of all things beautiful. Dr. Orr loves to deliver messages about community, empowerment, beauty, tranquility, and leadership.

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