As a mentor, you are a valuable resource to your mentees. As a guide, counselor, and friend, you inspire and facilitate professional achievements. The developmental transitions faced by young attorneys in each of these areas are enriched by your experience, wisdom, and guidance.
Your role as a mentor is a mix of friend and teacher. Relationships developed with your mentees become channels for the passage of information, advice, challenges, opportunities, and support, with the ultimate goals of facilitating achievement and having fun.
There are probably as many mentoring styles as there are personality types, and no one can be everything to one person. The challenge and fun of mentoring is developing your own personal style for sharing the special strengths and skills you have to offer.
As a mentor you offer the following:
- Information: Mentors share their knowledge, experiences, and wisdom.
- Contacts: Mentors provide valuable opportunities by facilitating professional contacts.
- Challenges: Mentors stimulate curiosity and build confidence by presenting new ideas, opportunities, and challenges.
- Support: Mentors encourage growth and achievement by providing an open and supportive environment.
- Goal Setting: Mentors help mentees discover their strengths and interests and define and attain their goals.
- Advice: Mentors guide mentees in reaching their professional goals.
- Role Models: By sharing stories of achievement with mentees, mentors can become role models.
As a mentor you can expect to enjoy the following benefits:
- Gain the intrinsic rewards of helping others.
- Expand your network while helping to shape the leaders of tomorrow. Mentees will often (but not always) be younger than you. Your mentee can provide a fascinating link to the workplace of tomorrow. They may understand trends and technology that may escape you.
- Enhance your leadership skills. When you teach someone, you truly become a master. You not only reinforce valuable leadership lessons, but you also question and refine your own thinking and approaches.
- By discussing issues with your mentee, you will be renewing and developing your communication skills.
- Mentors may find it a useful way to talent spot for later recruitment.
Each mentorship relationship will be different and tailored to the particular interests and skills each participant. Below are some tips for a successful relationship:
Establish a rapport at the kick-off event or by exchanging the following information as soon as possible:
- Brief background of yourself
- What you hope to get out of the mentor relationship
- Particular areas or topics on which you would like to focus
- Note: Do not ask your mentor for a job; the Mentorship Program is an opportunity to build a professional relationship
- An activity that you can do together (e.g., have lunch)
- As a mentee, it is your responsibility to follow-up and reach out to your mentor. If your mentor is difficult to reach, do not be discouraged. Understand that your mentor may have many commitments and continue to reach out periodically.
- Determine the best way to communicate with each other (i.e., phone, e-mail, text).
- Determine whether you will meet at regular intervals or adopt a more casual approach. Your mentor’s availability may determine the frequency of your interactions.
- Each mentee is encouraged to reach out to your mentor individually. If a mentor has multiple mentees, the mentees are encouraged to reach out to their mentor together.
- If there is more than one person in your mentoring group, someone in the group has been designated with an asterisk to be the group “coordinator” to facilitate familial ties and organize group events.
- Suggestion: Everyone’s contact information has been provided, so assign one person send out a text or e-mail chain shortly after the kick-off event with all the contact information. This is a great way to begin establishing communication and to organize your first activity!
- Share your successes and challenges in getting to where you are now.
- Ask your mentor to share stories about his or her life and career experiences. Ask questions to help apply any lessons to your own life and career.
- Be candid. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that you need answered.
- Keep in mind that your mentor’s role is professional. You should not expect your mentor to be your best friend.
- Respect each other’s time, honor commitments, and be punctual for appointments.
Possible topics for discussion
- Job search
- Resume review
- Mock interviews
- Researching employers
- Evaluating offers
- Core competencies of your practice
- Developing an expertise
- Building skills
- Performance evaluations
- Career planning
- Short-term and long-term goals
- Networking and relationship-building
- Business development