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10 Quick Tips For Making The Most Of Mentoring

Written by: Angela Scaperlanda Bujan, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Two essentials for lifelong learning – openness, to remain teachable and opportunities to learn. In life’s classroom, there are endless possible teachers and lessons to learn. Nature itself is one of our wisest instructors, offering inspiring lessons freely to anyone who cares to learn. We must stay alert, pay attention, take the initiative, and be prepared to leverage the opportunities that come our way.


Female financial advisor reviews documents on digital tablet.

Among other resources and tools offered, as a college student or young professional, you may be fortunate enough to be assigned a mentor who has experience in your field. My humble advice – take advantage of these opportunities and learn as much as you can from people willing to share their experiences! How do you make the most of your mentorship relationship? Before you meet with your mentor…


10 quick tips to help open yourself to learning and maximize this opportunity


1. Take time to dream, not just plan

As the saying goes “to live it you must dream it first”. Imagine what your future might look like. Dream about your future career – what do you hope to be doing in five years. Ask questions such as, what gives meaning to your life?; what drives and/or motivates you?; what unique background, knowledge, skills, and gifts do you bring?; and what knowledge/skills do you hope to acquire/develop?


2. Write about your “wonderings”

Sort through what you already know and make a list of questions you are wondering about regarding your future, including your future career. Review your list, expanding, combining, and grouping your questions into related, logical order.


3. Do research about your mentor

To maximize your time together, find out what you can about your mentor’s experience, current and past work experiences, skills, and interests. Then add to your list of relevant questions things you would like to learn about your mentor, while remaining open to questions that will come up in your meeting that you do not even know yet to ask. When you meet with your mentor…


4. Be gracious and respectful

Thank your mentor for taking the time to work with you. People are often willing to “go the extra mile” or go out of their way to help others, especially when they feel appreciated and get a sense that their investment of time will be put to good use.


5. Show interest in the mentor’s work and life

When you are trying to figure out your own future, it is natural to want to focus on your goals and aspirations or to steer the conversation to what is directly relevant to you. Set your own agenda aside for a few minutes and take time to listen to your mentor with genuine interest. Then you can make a common connection to your own interests and target areas that are most directly relevant to you.

6. Ask your questions without worry

One of the greatest things about mentor relationships is you do not always have to “be on”. While you want to be respectful and professional, you are not at a job interview. You are trying to form a trusting, safe space to seek guidance. After establishing a solid connection, it’s okay to express your doubts, uncertainties, and areas where you have the most need for growth.


7. Take notes

During your conversation, ideally, new ideas will spark. Your mentor may provide suggested leads for you to follow up on or classes s/he strongly recommends you take. Write down everything during your meeting that you want to remember. Your mentor will appreciate your diligence and visibly see the impact his or her words are having. Also, take note of the best way to communicate with your mentor and how often you plan to meet. After you meet with your mentor…


8. Keep the learning momentum moving

Distance runners often say the hardest mile to run is the first one, while their muscles are still warming up. Metaphorically, you’re already warmed up, so keep going so you don’t have to start all over again. Review your notes and follow up on any action steps quickly. Some leads may take time to generate, so the sooner you get started, the better.


9. Keep working toward greater clarity

After asking your questions and discussing your goals, you hopefully will have a clearer picture of the future you would like to build. Mentally fill in details on goals, including potential timelines. Identify any gaps or new questions that arise. As you continue to refine your list of questions, you will move from general to more specific, leading you to greater clarity on your future study and/or career plans.


10. Keep in regular contact with your mentor

Whether or not the leads pan out, your mentor will be interested in your progress. Keep him or her apprised of your plans, opportunities, classes, and even obstacles as you proceed. Your mentor may see opportunities or have suggestions you didn’t think to ask.


No matter how experienced you become, you can continually seek out people, resources, and experiences that will help you grow. If you keep your heart humble, your mind open, and your senses alert, you will find endless new learning opportunities.


Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Angela!


 

Angela Scaperlanda Bujan, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Angela Scaperlanda Bujan, MA, is a bilingual certified spiritual director, coach, facilitator, retreat leader, speaker, writer, editor, and organizational consultant. As founder of HELP Professional Services LLC, Angela sought to establish a unique organization centered around helping individuals, groups, and other organizations become who they are meant to be. Her unique background in intercultural communication, business, and spirituality has allowed her the opportunity to work with individuals and organizations across countries, sectors, and organizational levels. She brings her professional skills, fluency in Spanish, intercultural expertise, solid spiritual base, and relevant life experiences to the table. Angela has over 25 years of experience working with local, national, and international clients. This background allows her to listen for, observe, and understand the diverse needs of individuals, groups, communities, and organizations. Each presentation, retreat, workshop, and session is tailored to meet the current needs of the people with whom she has the privilege to work.


Angela actively seeks and works toward establishing an integrative life that allows her to invest a substantial portion of her time and talent building her family as well as building HELP Professional Services. She is constantly amazed at the lessons she learns as a wife and mother, that she can apply to her work and those from work that benefit her family

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