How do you mentor someone?
October 28, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

How do you mentor someone?

I was recently given the opportunity to mentor a local college student, and after I agreed to it I quickly realize that A) I had no idea what I was doing, and B) I'm only in a slightly related field of study. How do I go about doing this?
posted by jackofsaxons to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Simply put, you make your work transparent to your intern and answer any clarifying questions about your role and responsibilities.
posted by dagnyduquette at 11:56 AM on October 28, 2007

Evaluate what your protege is expecting from you and what you can really provide and what he/she wants to accomplish in the long run. Now 28, I have mentored three people, but their goals changed as they developed into careers and so you need to also be willing at some point to offer assistance in finding a new mentor.
posted by parmanparman at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2007

When I was in college I loved hearing from people who worked in the "real world." My profs were great but I really loved the opportunity to see people who actually worked in the field and hear how they were applying the theory to their jobs.

I agree with the above to the student, find out what they want to learn, show them what you do.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:04 PM on October 28, 2007

I'm an informal mentor to a lot of people getting started in librarianship. I think of mentoring as a way for people with experience and credentials in some job/hobby/accomplishment to help someone who isn't as far along the path in that same, or similar, direction. I think of it as being, all of the sudden, available to someone to help guide them and help them make sense of their career. The reason it's mentoring instead of just meeting people at your job etc, is that there's this assumption that you take the person under your wing on purpose -- not just do the regular nice things that people who work together do for each other -- and that youhave their eventual goals and dreams in mind not just whatever's good for the company.

So, if you've agreed to mentor someone you can always ask the person who conencted you what the outlines of your responsibilities are, or you can ask your mentee what they are lookign for. Often it involves being on hand to answer questions, helping them figure out what they want wiht the knowledge of someone who has been around, and often some sort of personal contact which can be emails or phone calls or an occasional coffee. The big deal about being the mentor is that YOU are the one in charge and so should take at least somewhat of a guiding role (differnet from what I do since I mostly just respond to people who contact me). You can decide depending on the person's experience whether you want to do a "take the mentee to work" day or just give them advice base don what you do.

In short, it's not that tough, it's like being a big brother/sister for the world of work.
posted by jessamyn at 6:19 PM on October 28, 2007

Is the student new to the area? You could be a great resource in terms of getting the student aquainted with the area.
posted by radioamy at 7:44 PM on October 28, 2007

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