Become A Mentee
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Mentee! The duration and frequency of each mentorship experience is set by the Mentor and Mentee together, however they typically last nine-twelve months. During that time, a Mentor is encouraged to see his/her Mentee once every month for two hours. Mentors are also expected to call and/or see their mentee between sessions. LeadingAge Minnesota welcomes members interested to complete a Mentee profile. Our team will work to search for Mentors within the Mentor Connector membership database that are best suited to your unique profile. If you have any questions about these requirements – or if you want to get started today – please contact Adam Suomala.
What is Mentoring?
Mentorship involves teaching, coaching, and helping to build a high degree of confidence in the next generation of aging services professionals. Mentors working through LeadingAge Minnesota's Mentor Connect are selected because they have high capacity to care about Mentees new to our field and go out of their way to see they get the best possible chance to fulfill their career potential.
Mentoring, Career Coaching, and Therapeutic Counseling can all be useful to your professional life as a leader in the field of aging services. Here are some important differences to recognize before you get started.
- Fundamental activity is advising.
- Typical focus is advice and guidance about the organization, the profession, the role or in some cases the mentee’s place on career path.
- Mentors share their own experiences and perspective to help the mentee to learn and progress in career and life.
- Focus of the conversation is on the future and present, but may draw from past experiences of both people as well.
- Conversation generally addresses challenges and questions related to professional life and career progression.
- Mentor gives advice and direct guidance and may express own opinion; mentor guides and teaches.
- Mentor asks questions and so does mentee.
- Contract between mentor and mentee is usually informal and topics of discussion vary from session to session.
- Mentoring relationship could have duration of one meeting or many meetings over many years.
- Meeting may be structured or ad hoc.
- Mentee generates the agenda and focus for the session.
- Conversation is private and is expected to be confidential.
- Fundamental activity is evoking and reframing.
- Coach presumes that client has own answers and uses open-ended questions to bring these answers to light rather than offering advice or problem-solving.
- Coach generally helps client draw from his own experiences and wisdom rather than sharing own experiences.
- Focus of the conversation is on the future and present.
- Coach helps client develop greater self-awareness so as to create shifts in awareness and new possibilities.
- Structured engagements. Contract between coach and client is formal and well defined. (objective for the coaching is identified and certain number of sessions during a defined period of time at regular intervals, etc.)
- Duration could be one session to several years, but typical engagements are 3-6 months.
- Client generates the focus for the session.
- Coach uses coaching frameworks and distinctions to support the conversation and client's progress.
- Conversation is private and is expected to be confidential
- Typical focuses include: resolving persistent and unhealthy emotional patterns and/or external behaviors; emphasis is on healing.
- Counselor uses questions and questionnaires to learn client's history and perspective.
- Conversation generally focuses on the past to a greater degree than mentoring and coaching conversations.
- Counselor generally does not share own history and personal experiences.
- Counselor uses training in psychology to structure listening and the conversational process.
- Contract between counselor and client is formal and well-defined.
- Duration could be single session to many years, but generally at least 6 sessions.
- Conversation is confidential and protected by law.
Getting Started as a Mentee
LeadingAge Minnesota will send you contact information for your prospective Mentor. We have chosen this person especially for you based on what we view to be compatible characteristics, however the decision to continue beyond your first meeting is yours. The Mentee/Mentor relationship must be a mutual one. Use the tips listed here to start your mentee relationship successfully and make a good impression on your volunteer mentor.
- You will be sent contact information for your Mentor from LeadingAge Minnesota. Enter it into your cell phone and other contact databases for easy access later on.
- Consider sending your resume and a few brief paragraphs that describe your work and personal history to your Mentor, along with a word of thanks for volunteering to be your mentor. (Electronically or via hard copy)
- Read up on your Mentor. Google your Mentor to read any news, published work, or announcements that are publicly available.
- Get a journal or notebook which can be used exclusively for taking notes during your mentoring sessions and containing any related materials and bring it with you to the first session.
- Bring your business card to the first session.
- Dress professionally for the session, as if you might for an interview. You may shift to more casual business attire later on, but be aware that you will make an important impression in the first meeting.
- Do take notes during the session, although not extensively or it will feel like an interview.
- Arrive 5-10 minutes early for the session and remember to plan adequate travel time to arrive on time.
- Pay attention to time and bring the conversation to a close when you reach the time limit indicated by the Mentor.
- Follow up immediately after the first session with a note of thanks.
- Follow up immediately after the mentoring session with any actions to which you have agreed. Don’t delay, as it is more likely to slip your mind as days pass.
- Confirm the date, time and location of your next mentoring session.
- Send an email one to two days prior to confirm that the Mentor is still “on” for the next session.
- Give advance notice to the Mentor if you are running late or must cancel or postpone a session
Maximizing Your Mentorship
Having a mentor can help you to learn how to operate in the world of aging services. Your mentor will connect you with people and perspectives you need in order to move ahead. He or she may provide advice on how to handle situations and people. They will draw from their own body of experience to share insight, wisdom, and knowledge. He or she will support positive change in your life and will challenge your thinking, thereby expanding the possibilities for you.
However, you will not automatically receive these benefits of the mentoring relationship. Experienced mentees know to have the relationship they want, much depends on them. As a mentee, the success of the mentoring relationship depends on you. You are the driver of your own development. If you are serious about learning from your mentor, your frame of mind will be: “I am here to learn, and I am open to new ideas. I am responsible for my own life and for making my own development and career path happen.”
Below, you will find tips on how to get the most from your mentoring conversations.
- Be prepared for your mentoring sessions. Model professionalism in your mentor meetings by being prompt, prepared, and maintaining a professional attitude. Preparation means coming to the conversation with a good idea of what you would like to focus on during the time together. Be punctual, well organized, and ready to give a brief update on recent progress and developments and to propose an agenda for the conversation today. You might even email the topics to the mentor ahead of time, if you think the mentor would appreciate it.
- Establish a mutually agreeable plan for mentoring sessions, including how much time each of you need if a session has to be postponed. Schedule the sessions on your calendar immediately and build in enough time around the sessions to prepare. Your mentor is a volunteer whose extra time is scarce. By establishing a time commitment and ensuring that conversations start and end on time, you will demonstrate respect and responsibility to your mentor.
- Let your mentor know who you are. Share your hopes, fears, ideas and goals openly, even if your mentor has quite a different background or style. Do share your life situation as well as your professional goals. Your mentor will then be able to put your situation in perspective.
- Focus on the relationship, rather than outcomes. Your mentor’s role is not to get another job for you. Be realistic in your expectations and focus on building a relationship, not obtaining a particular kind of help from the mentor.
- Ask direct questions about what you most want to know. Since the mentee is the one who establishes the agenda for the conversation, you are in a position to set up the conversation in a way that provides the most relevance and value for you. Let your mentor know what most is on your mind and what would be most helpful to you to talk about. If the conversation strays, just prompt the mentor to return to the original topic. You are responsible for ensuring that the conversation meets your needs.
- Practice learning from anyone. In the past, people believed that a strong personal connection was essential to a mentoring relationship. However, mentoring serves many purposes and most don’t require a deep personal connection. Mentoring may be short-term, specific to a situation, focused on a particular area of development, or mentoring may turn out to be a life-long conversation. By recognizing that you can benefit from a variety of perspectives and styles – even those quite different from your own – you will open yourself up to new ideas, valuable information,and a wide range of perspectives. You and your mentor don’t have to have everything in common to have a productive exchange.
- Listen with an open mind. Often, we turn off our listening when we believe that the perspective being offered isn’t pertinent or that the person speaking is “different” from us. However, your mentor’s experience – however distant in time or industry-specific it may be – will carry a nugget of learning for you. Challenge yourself to find the connection, rather than rule out the advice or perspective that you are hearing. Be ready to learn something new as a result of the conversation.
- Ask curious questions. The most enjoyable mentoring sessions flow with a natural back and forth dialogue. Relax and enjoy getting to know another person. Don’t be shy about asking curious questions, such as, “What was that like for you?” or “How did you feel at the time?” Ask a question or two at the start of each session to get to know your mentor’s experiences, such as,
- “I’d love to learn about your career path…” or “What do you know in hindsight that you could share with me about how you achieved professional success?”
- Take notes. It’s difficult to remember key points and commitments after the meeting. Keep a notebook and jot down ideas and insights during the session, and in between sessions. Do capture the commitments that you and your mentor make to each other so that you are able to follow up appropriately.
- Provide context and brief updates to help your mentor to understand you. While the mentor doesn’t need to know every single thing about you, it’s helpful to both of you if you use the first session to get to know each other. At the beginning of each session, provide a brief update on progress since the last conversation.
- Respect your mentor’s boundaries. The mentor’s role is to support your development through regular conversation. Outside of the session, most mentors have very limited time to engage with mentees. Communicate respectfully with the mentor. Be careful not to inundate the mentor with emails or phone calls outside of the session. Respect the time boundaries of the session and do all you can to end at the agreed upon time.
- Follow up on agreements. If you’ve committed to take a step as a result of the mentoring session, make sure you do so. It is discouraging for the mentor if you have made commitments that you don’t act upon. You can also help the mentor to keep his commitments by sending a brief thank you note after a session that also lists any agreed-upon actions from either of you.
- Say “thank you!” Remember to say thank you after each session and give appreciation for specific insights or examples that helped you. This information will let your mentor know more about what you value and how he is making a difference for you.