The Mentoring Relationship
The Mentor Role (Webster Alumnus)
The knowledge, advice, and resources a mentor shares depend on the goal(s) established at the beginning of the professional relationship. A mentor may share with a mentee (or protege) information about their own career trajectory, as well as provide direction, motivation, support, and role modeling.
A mentor may assist with exploring occupations, setting goals, developing networking connections, and identifying resources. Mentors may want to reflect on their own student experience and identify information that would have proven useful to their own professional growth during that time. The mentor role may change as the needs of the mentee change.
Mentors should assure that interactions with mentees comply with applicable ethical standards.
Mentee (Student Role)
The mentee (student) has the opportunity to observe and interact with a Webster University alumnus to receive personalized feedback and encouragement for selected goals established at the start of the mentoring relationship.
The duration of the formal mentoring relationship will be established once the goals form has been completed by the mentee and discussed with the mentor.
As a mentor, it is up to you to determine how many mentee's you would like to work individually with.
The mentor will work with the mentee to establish a complete by time for each of their goals. The end of the formal mentoring relationship should align with the complete by timeframe that is determined by the mentor and mentee.
Ending the Formal Mentoring Relationship
Mentors will have the opportunity to open their availability to mentor another Webster University student once the formal mentoring relationship has ended.
Students may check-in with their mentor periodically after the formal mentoring relationship has concluded to share updates about their professional development.
View the mentee goal form at the end of this SPARK Page or by clicking here.
During the initial meeting with your prospective mentor, you may be asked open ended questions so that a complete picture of your academic and career interests are aligned to the strengths and knowledge of the prospective mentor.
Based on the information you share with your prospective mentor, that person may not be the best fit for your individual needs (and that's okay!). This may happen if:
- Knowledge and perspective from the alumnus will not be valuable to the personal and professional growth of the student
- Academic and career expertise are not aligned to the individual needs of the students
In the event of a mismatch, it's okay to go back to the mentoring directory to identify another Webster University alumnus to initiate contact with.
Webster Mentoring Program Foundations
All successful relationships are built from effective communication. Determine the most efficient modality for communicating with your mentor by requesting their communication preferences in an introductory e-mail. This may be communicating by phone, video chat, e-mail, or a combination of all.
Introductory E-mail Example:
Hello Ms. Gorlok, My name is Ryan Lockwood, and I am currently a sophomore at Webster University, majoring in Graphic Design. I received your contact information through the Webster Mentoring Program and was intrigued by your knowledge and experience in digital media communication at the Saint Louis Art Gallery. I would enjoy an opportunity to connect with you by phone or video chat to discuss my interest in digital media communication from your perspective as an experienced professional. Please let me know the best way to communicate with you and any availability you have to discuss my interests and goals further. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Note, sometimes it may take a day or two for your mentor to get back to you through e-mail. This is not uncommon. If you haven't heard back from your mentor after five days, follow-up with an additional e-mail in the same framework as your first message.
Once communication preferences are determined, your mentor will spend time getting to know you by listening actively to the information you're sharing about your career interests and goals.
What should be Discussed During the First Meet-Up?
Your mentor will want to know a lot about you professional interests. The first meet-up should be a time for you to share information about your academic and occupational interests. This will be an opportunity for your mentor to help establish a few goals that can be accomplished through the duration of the formal mentoring relationship.
To prepare for this initial conversation, organize your thoughts by writing down responses to the following questions:
- How did you select your major/minor?
- What campus clubs or organizations are you currently a member of?
- Are you currently a member of a professional association? Do you know any professional associations that are aligned to your occupational interests?
- List examples of your personal strengths (leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, etc.).
- List any skills you would like to improve.
Additional Communication Considerations
It is important to represent your best professional self throughout the duration of the formal mentoring relationship. With this in mind, you should always conduct yourself professionally when communicating with your mentor. Consider the following tips to ensure you're representing Webster University and yourself professionally:
- Written communication should be clear, concise, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.
- Until directed otherwise, greet your mentor by Mr. or Ms. and their last name when communicating by phone and through e-mail.
- For phone and video chat, plan to participate in a distraction free workspace.
- Prepare notes in advance of your conversation to document progress made and opportunities for improvement. Also, have a pen and notepad ready to document advice and information provided by your mentor.
- Determine the next meeting day and time before ending the conversation.
- Follow-up with an e-mail thanking your mentor for their time. Re-cap the conversation and list any tasks that you will complete before the next meet-up.
Trust is built over time. Your mentor will be directed to keep conversations and other communications confidential. Honor your scheduled meetings and calls, consistently showing documented progress toward established goals, and by being honest with your mentor.
Determining Goals and Building Capacity
As a mentee, you should prepare to discuss goals as they relate to you career and academic interests.
When discussing academic and career goals, your mentor will consider your interests to assist with establishing an action plan for success. Be clear and concise when expressing your interests so that your capacity for learning and achieving your goals will be maximized throughout the duration of the formal mentoring relationship.
Your mentor may help build your capacity for learning through the following actions:
- Coordinating informational interviews with networking contacts aligned to your occupational interests
- Reviewing occupational and labor market information through online databases such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net Online
- Exploring professional interest groups such as professional associations
- Learning how to use the alumni tool on LinkedIn to explore where alumni are currently working who share similar academic interests
The Webster Mentoring Program Foundations will help you successfully move through the four stages of the mentoring relationship. Continue reading to learn more about these stages and how to prepare for a successful learning experience.
Stages of Mentoring Relationships
Like most relationship dynamics, mentoring relationships progress through stages. Your mentoring relationship will likely reflect four stages with each stage forming an inherent part of the next:
- Building the Relationship
- Exchanging Information and Establishing Goals
- Working Towards Goals/Deepening the Engagement
- Ending the Formal Mentoring Relationship and Planning for the Future
In the sections that follow, activities will be shared for progressing successfully through each stage of your mentoring relationship.
Source: Phillips-Jones, L. (2001) Personal communication. Adapted from CCC/The Mentoring Group’s Mentor and Mentee training materials.
Stage 1: Building the Relationship
During this phase, you will get to know each other and begin to establish trust.
During your first meeting (ideally face-to-face), discuss your backgrounds, experiences, interests, and expectations. You will also make agreements about confidentiality and the frequency of contact. Establish a schedule for communicating regularly, whether in-person, by phone, or e-mail.
Stage 2: Exchanging Information and Establishing Goals
During Stage II, you will exchange more information and set goals. Your relationship and trust will deepen.
As your mentor asks questions, make sure to provide as much information and context to assist with building actionable goals.
By exchanging information, you will help your mentor gain insight into the goals you hope to achieve through the mentoring relationship. Mentors can provide their mentees with input and support on a great variety of issues and challenges. For example, your mentor may provide strategies to help improve specific skills you're seeking to develop. Alternatively, you may request their insight and guidance on a new and upcoming occupation that you're interested in exploring further.
Use the Mentoring Program Goal Form to help document your goals for the duration of the mentoring relationship. This can be completed together, or assigned to you by your mentor to complete prior to a scheduled meeting time.
Stage 3: Working Towards Goals/Deepening the Engagement
During this stage, you will work towards achieving your goals through conversations, shared resources, and new networking connections of the mentor who may add value to the mentoring relationship. This is a rich phase marked by openness and trust, meaningful discussion, and application of new insights and approaches.
Your mentor will challenge you to think in new ways or approach a problem differently while offering encouraging words and support.
Stage 4: Ending the Formal Mentoring Relationship and Planning for the Future
During this stage, planning for your continued success is balanced with bringing the formal mentoring relationship to a close. Work with your mentor to define the types of support you may need in the future.
You may request to connect with additional colleagues in their network who can provide benefits other than those provided by your mentor.
Adjournment brings closure to the journey. Your final discussion should be dedicated to the following:
- Reflecting on accomplishments, challenges, and progress towards goals
- What will you remember most about the relationship?
- What challenges lie ahead?
- Identify other types of support you may still need.
- Discussing whether the relationship will continue informally and how you will implement that.
- Expressing thanks and evaluating the Webster Mentoring Program through the end of program evaluation form