What is mentoring?
Mentors are advisers, initiators, and sources of knowledge. In this capacity, they discuss the mentees’ goals and the steps needed to achieve them. As initiators, they help the protégé to consider different viewpoints, encourage him or her to explore new goals or opportunities for development, or point out underused abilities. As sources of knowledge, they provide information about relevant opportunities, training programs, electronic media, conferences, and professional organizations.
Why should I be a protégé (mentee)?
Having a mentor is a great way to learn about your career path and yourself from someone with experience. A mentor can help you analyze your goals, review your resume, and introduce you to individuals or opportunities as you start your career path. Mentors can be an objective voice in the chaos of your new career.
What is the role of a protégé (mentee)?
More than anything, your role is to listen and learn. The mentor is not necessarily a good friend but is more likely a teacher. You should be a learner, an absorber of knowledge. Being a good mentor may lead to a deeper understanding of the profession you are entering. It may also have benefits through recommendations both formal and informal.
What can I expect to gain from this mentoring relationship?
Mentees usually gain a better knowledge of themselves, increase their understanding of the field, or profession they are entering and gain an ally to help in the journey ahead.
How do I find a mentor?
Finding a mentor requires you to explore your professional and educational networks.
- Start with Linked In. Search for Omicron Delta Kappa or OΔK and a career field or institution.
- Talk with the circle advisors at your circle of initiation. They may be able to identify individuals who are in your chosen field or have a general connection to OΔK and are willing to work with you.
- Contact the national headquarters. We have the OΔK database and personal connections to many individuals across the country. We may be able to help you identify an OΔK member who is willing to assist.
Remember, a mentee profile is very important. The more specific you are about your goal, the greater the possibility of a successful search.
What should a mentee include in the profile?
When developing a profile as a mentee, it is important for you to include specific jobs, experiences, and accomplishments. When a mentor is open to accept a mentee, those key jobs, experiences, and accomplishments will aid the mentor in determining if you will be a match for their experience.
How should I begin the process?
The best way to start any conversation is by introducing yourself. Tell your mentor about yourself. Be succinct but provide enough detail so your mentor is learning about you. From that introduction, you can ask the mentor to introduce him or herself. Now you each know a little bit about the other and the more important conversations get built from there.
How long is should I expect the relationship to last?
There is never a specific time frame. The relationship lasts as long as both parties are both giving and receiving something of value. It is best to talk about the expectations of how long you each anticipate the relationship lasting. That way, you each have benchmarks to consider as the relationship develops. Some mentoring relationships last lifetimes.
What is the time commitment likely to be?
This is completely up to you, but you need to know this in advance. Usually, it is recommended that you set aside two to four hours a month. If you can only commit a few hours a month, make sure this is clear to start. We know things change but if you commit to a few hours a month, be prepared to stay with that at least through the first four to six months. Remember, your mentor is making a time sacrifice to help you, you need to make sure you are true to the commitment.
How do I respond when a mentor does not accept my invitation?
As always, the best response is professional and without delay. Be honest and brief. Mentors are busy just like you. They may have many reasons why they cannot commit to you. They may have other mentees, or they may not feel they could benefit you in your career path. Thank the potential mentor for considering your request and move on without closing the door. You never know when or where you might come across this person in your professional life.
I am a graduate student; how do I fit into this mentor program?
Mentors can be undergraduate students, graduate or professional students, or fully employed professionals. Anyone can be mentored. The difference for many students or professionals is the time commitment and the expertise of the mentor. Whereas undergraduates may seek a mentor who can guide them generally as they determine a career path, graduate students and professionals most likely have a career path and are seeking a mentor in their field to help them grow and develop in their work.