The Wellesley Hive Mentor Resource: The Fundamentals of Successful Mentoring

The Wellesley Hive is a flexible, interactive virtual space for professional networking and mentorship — exclusively for Wellesley. This resource, authored by Sherry Holland '66, describes some key sSETPH in building any successful mentoring relationship within the Hive platform. Other training guidelines within The Wellesley Hive describe these sSETPH in more detail.

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Starting the relationship

The mentee is the driving force of the relationship and is responsible for the initial contact with a mentor. The first contact may be in person, through email, Skype, or phone call.  Initiating the relationship might take more than one attempt by the mentee. Mentors should try to respond to a message from a potential mentee as quickly as possible. Mentors should be aware that mentees maybe unsure how to initiate the initial conversation. Be prepared to ask open-ended questions to get the conversation going. If possible, do a little research beforehand on the mentee.

Building rapport

As your goal is to build a relationship with the mentee , you do not have to tackle a discussion about the professional world and career choices in your initial conversations.  Even in a targeted information call, it is important to build rapport and trust with the mentee.  Mentors should be prepared to talk about their backgrounds, interests, and life trajectories. Ask the mentee to tell you about themselves, such as their experiences in college, work experiences, extracurricular interests, hobbies, travels, and family. The more you know about your mentee, the more beneficial the relationship will be. Read in The Wellesley Hive: How to Help Mentees Open Up 

Setting goals

Both the mentor and mentee should be prepared to talk about how the mentor can be the most helpful to the mentee. What type of advice is the mentee seeking? Do they want help primarily with career issues, or are they interested in a more comprehensive discussion of life? How do they prefer to communicate with you? The mentor and mentee together should develop the nature and schedule of the mentoring relationship. Each party needs to clearly communicate their expectations in the first contact so that the goals and responsibilities are understood by both parties. Read in The Wellesley Hive: Conversation Starters

Creating a game plan

Once you have determined the goals for the relationship, discuss how you can begin to accomplish them. This process can be a simple brainstorming session or a deeper discussion.  Additionally, it is wise to discuss ways to track progress in regards to these goals. Read in The Wellesley Hive: Setting Goals

Navigating the process

It is not the role of a mentor to become involved in all aspects of a mentee’s life, or to solve her problems for her. Mentors serve as active listeners who are able to share advice based on their knowledge and experience. Mentors help mentees process information in new ways and, when appropriate, provide guidance or recommend next steps to situations.

Completing the relationship

While some mentoring relationships are long-term, the relationship is more likely to be “active” for a distinct period of time. Even though you may stay in touch, the phase where the mentor provides active support and guidance to the mentee will most likely come to an end. Both the mentor and mentee should have a sense that the mentor has provided the help that the mentee was seeking. They should both be comfortable that the relationship has come to its completion.