How to be an ideal mentor
Support a student to learn and grow
Mentoring is about supporting people to help them develop more effectively. Mentoring occurs when two individuals decide to work together to achieve specific outcomes for skills growth and development. One individual has the skill, knowledge and experience that the other individual needs to acquire.
Mentoring can help students prepare for life after university. It creates an environment to develop and practice important skills needed for the workplace. It allows them to ask questions, to better understand their career choices and gives them a practical and realistic picture of the working world. It helps these students create their network of contacts with individuals in their area of interest.
“I have been a mentor at New College for eight years. It has been very rewarding to work with students who are interested in going to medical school. I even do mock interviews with them. Now some of them are in medical school and have invited me to talk to their class about my interests in case management.”
— Raymond Rupert MD (New College). MBA (Rotman). Founder/Medical Director, Rupert Case Management Inc.
What kind of activities might mentors do?
- Meet students informally for a meal or coffee
- Meet students in your workplace for job shadowing
- Discuss your career path with a student audience in a workshop, panel or conference
- Conduct a goal setting session to identify areas that you will work on together in a formal mentorship
- Provide the student with advice, formally or informally, concerning career choices, job applications and the interview process
- Review your student’s resume and give comments
- Refer the student to professional colleagues for informational interviews
- Arrange a meeting for the student to be introduced to an important contact in your field, making suggestions in advance regarding possible topics of conversation. A debriefing session is often helpful afterwards
- Pass on topical articles and books
- Be available for support by email or by phone
What are the characteristics of an ideal mentor?
- Professional with experience and knowledge
- Prepared to make a commitment to nurturing and supporting another’s development
- Shares wisdom
- Skilled at listening and provides supportive guidance and constructive feedback
- Available; keeps in contact
- Confidential; treats all dealings and discussions in confidence
What are the benefits of mentoring?
- The satisfaction of knowing you are helping another person
- Heightened profile as an active supporter of your community
- Valuable practice to help develop your coaching and leadership skills
- Heightened self-awareness
- The pleasure of giving back