Your Career, Your Way!


Mentoring is not for everyone – it takes an investment of time, a commitment to help others, and... a lot of patience.  But, it can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. 

Who can be a Mentor?

Who can be a Mentor?Almost anyone can become a mentor to help another person maximize their career potential,  but there are definitely characteristics and skills that stand out when analyzing successful mentors, and not everyone is in possession of these skills. 

Successful mentors are people who:

  • Are comfortable providing honest, constructive criticism
  • Are well respected in their company or industry and have the experience necessary to be able to discuss a wide range of topics and situations
  • Have good listening skills and listen in order to understand, not reply
  • Have the time available to help others with their careers
  • Teach, don’t tell.  In other words, they know the kinds of questions to ask that will help others determine the answers for themselves
  • Are trustworthy and can keep discussions confidential
  • Have a positive, upbeat and caring attitude
  • Have the ability to motivate the mentee
  • Have a good sense of humor with the ability to take situations seriously but be able to laugh at themselves
  • Are open to two-way learning, not only helping the mentee learn but also realizing there are things they could learn from the mentee

Who can be a Mentee?

The best mentees are those who:

Who can be a Mentee?
  • Want to proactively advance in their careers
  • Are open to receiving constructive criticism
  • Want to proactively look at their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement
  • Are willing to share their mistakes and failures in order to learn from them
  • Are willing to listen to the advice of others and act upon it
  • Can be honest with themselves and introspective
  • Have the ability to hold themselves accountable and be self-disciplined
  • Are open to new ideas and opinions
  • Have a good sense of humor with the ability to take situations seriously but be able to laugh at themselves

Tips for Mentors

Mentor Tips
  • Become a mentor if you enjoy spending time with others and helping them succeed
  • Be open with your mentee on how much time you’ll be available for them
  • Establish a good mentoring relationship by discussing the expectations your mentee has of you as well as the expectations you have of your mentee
  • Agree on when and where you’ll hold discussions
  • Discuss the need for confidentiality of discussions
  • Use your own experience, successes and failures to help your mentee learn
  • Provide networking opportunities – introduce them to key people so they can build their list of contacts
  • Help them understand company and industry culture and politics
  • Find out about their career aspirations, goals and objectives
  • Help them create their very own career development plan
  • Help them think through their key hurdles/barriers and how to overcome them
  • Learn to ask the kinds of questions that will allow your mentee to explore their situation – instead of telling them what to do (for example, try saying “What do you think are some ways you could...” instead of “You need to do this...”)
  • Be honest and candid with your comments
  • Be open to two-way learning; mentoring another is a great way to learn new things for yourself
  • Be prepared to let your mentee grow their wings and fly away

Tips for Mentees

Mentee TipsHere are some helpful hints for seeking and approaching a mentor:

  • When looking for a mentor, don’t restrict yourself.  Good mentors can be found in a variety of places such as your current workplace, other companies in your area, non-profit organizations, local associations, church groups, and community groups such as the chamber of commerce
  • Prior to seeking a mentor, write down and clarify what your specific expectations are of the mentor and the role you’d like them to play
  • Once you’ve identified a potential mentor, ask to meet with them to discuss a potential mentoring relationship.  This meeting should take place at their convenience, in a mutually comfortable location, and in a place that allows you to speak in confidence
  • At the meeting, explain that you would like to have them as your mentor and why
  • If the person agrees to be your mentor, ensure you both share the same commitment to your expectations.  Be clear on the time required and  mentor availability..  Establish a meeting schedule with topics for discussion
  • If the person cannot be your mentor, gracefully thank them for their time and if possible, try to gain an understanding of why – are they currently too overloaded with work to take on the role of a mentor, are they willing to consider mentoring you in the future, is there someone they recommend you could contact as a potential mentor
  • Don’t be upset if you are turned down.  In my career, I’ve been turned down twice when seeking a mentor.  In both cases, the person I had hoped to have as a mentor was male.  Both told me they thought it would be inappropriate to be mentoring a female.  So, don’t get discouraged!  Keep looking until you find a mentor you trust and respect
  • sure to thank your mentor for the help they provide you!

Remember that you and only you are responsible for your career.  You are accountable for your goals, initiatives, dreams, and aspirations, not your mentor.  Seek to find mentors throughout your career who can help you build upon your strengths, overcome your weaknesses, navigate politics, and help you optimize your potential.  You can do it!

Benefits of Mentoring 


  • “My mentor helped me clarify my career aspirations and figure out the actions I needed to take to achieve my career goals.”
  • “I had so many goals and aspirations in life I wasn’t sure where to begin.  My mentor helped me prioritize them so I could accomplish as many as possible.”
  • “I was having a difficult time dealing with all the politics at work.  My mentor helped me understand the political situation and power players and then helped me figure out how to get my projects supported and my budget approved.”
  • “I ran into a huge barrier at work.  My mentor helped me see the situation from all angles so I could determine the best way to overcome it.”
  • “I’m fairly shy so I don’t usually ‘hype’ myself and my accomplishments at work.  My mentor taught me how to get myself more known throughout the company, which has led to other career opportunities.”
  • “My mentor did an incredible job of introducing me to key people in our industry, who have been a terrific help in getting me my next position.”
  • “I was laid off due to the economic situation (my company downsized), and my mentor gave me encouragement and support when I needed it the most.”
  • “My mentor helped me get ‘back in the game’ when it came to updating my résumé and looking for a new job.  I hadn’t done that in over 10 years so I was really rusty!”


  • “My mentee helped me see issues in the company that I didn’t know existed.”
  • “I was able to see the perception others held of me, through the eyes of my mentee.”
  • “I have been able to watch and actively help younger women succeed in our industry – and it’s such a wonderful feeling to help another person succeed!”
  • “By helping others I’ve also created a network of allies I can rely upon when I need help.”
  • “I’ve been able to step out of my own shoes and help my mentees see things from other perspectives.  This, in turn, has helped me in resolving issues within my own department.”