Starting a Relationship with a Mentor

Having the chance to build a relationship with someone in your desired field is an opportunity that can’t be missed. Whether it’s for perspective, knowledge, contacts, or a sounding board, building a connection with an approachable, experienced professional can equip you to make the right decisions in starting your career. Learning about your prospective profession on a personal level can give you less of an abstract view of your future. By participating in one of McGill’s mentorship programs, I have had the opportunity to be connected with an accomplished and generous mentor. Here are my tips for establishing a relationship with an assigned mentor.

1. Get to know your mentor.

Before jumping in with questions about your future career, get to know your mentor. Ask them about their university experience and how they got to their specific job. Do they like it? Why did they leave their last job? Knowing more about your mentor’s experiences helps you ask informed questions that you know your mentor can answer.

2. Go into the relationship with specific goals.

To help make the experience worth your while—and to be efficient with your mentor’s time—know what you want out of the relationship. Whether you’re looking for the relationship to help you learn about education and preparation, your potential career lifestyle, or be a guiding hand, having clear goals for the relationship can help structure your conversations. Moreover, setting specific goals can help you get a more precise answer to any of the questions you may have. If your mentor knows your biggest worry is your eventual working conditions, they can steer the conversation in a way that makes you understand the lifestyle of your profession.

3. Create commitments.

Setting clear commitments can help make the relationship stronger and organize the ways in which you interact. Deciding on the frequency of your meetings or phone calls, what is expected of each meeting, and how the meetings are settled can lead to a more efficient exchange. As a result, you can think of possible questions for your mentor, prepare for your meetings, and make the most out of your 30 minute phone call, for example. In doing this, you also ensure that your relationship with your mentor is not a burden, but a positive, mutually beneficial relationship.

Make the most of this unique experience!

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