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Helpful Practices for Mentees

When people mentor, most people do it because they want to, not because they have to. Mentorship requires time, attention, and energy from everyone involved.

It's a wonderful thing to be a part of, especially when we factor in everyone's life responsibilities, work, hobbies, commitments, and more.

It's helpful to assume things from the mentor's perspective and that although they have limited time, attention, resources, and energy, they still want to help in some way.

Understanding the additional responsibilities everyone has will also make the mentorship experience that much more helpful, enjoyable, insightful, and fun for everyone involved!

Make it easy to help you

If you haven't already, please first with read and reflect the questions found on How to find mentors. People often enjoy helping those who are already helping themselves.

Do your initial research and Be prepared

For any question you are asking, first attempt to research online. This helps generate more nuanced, in-depth, personalized questions to you and your situation.

If applicable, when asking a question, share helpful details: what you've tried already, what you've read and thought about, and so forth.

If it's a structured, formal mentorship, have an agenda and/or things you'd like to talk about.

Follow-up quickly and Give updates

Overall, it's about having transparent, safe, open communication.

When you receive a message containing resources, reply with thank you (within 24 hours if you can).

If you receive a large collection of resources, you don't have to go through everything first before replying. But you can still reply that you've received it and will look at it.

Once you do look through things, reply with any takeaways, follow-up questions, or simply another thank you.

Similarly, if you're chatting asynchronously and you have not received a reply, it's okay to kindly follow-up in 5-7 days. They may be busy or simply forgot and need a gentle reminder.

If you are scheduled to meet and are no longer able to, kindly let them know as soon as you can (and vice-versa).

Set 1 week, 1/3/6 months, 1 year reminders

Mentoring relationships vary in length. Some relationships manifest as a single helpful conversation. Others manifest as repeated conversations on different topics throughout months and years. There can be defined start and end. Or simply none at all -- it's ongoing.

Often, mentoring relationships work in bursts, where conversations are condensed in a short period of time towards a goal(s).

Whichever the case may be, use your preferred strategy (calendar event, todo list, task manager) to set a reminder to share a friendly update and express gratitude in the future. It can be as simple as just saying how you're doing and say thank you for the help back in the day.

From a mentor's perspective, receiving an unexpected thank you/update from someone they helped a year ago, months ago, or even a week can make their day that much better. A mentoring boomerang.

Help when you can, how you can

In your conversations, if you find opportunities to reciprocate the helpful behavior, please keep paying it forward.

Leave it better for the next person

Friendly reminder that how you interact and engage in your mentorship relationship can influence a mentor's willingness to help in the future. It could either discourage or encourage them to help someone else next time. That said, it is a two-way relationship and there's a page like this of practices for mentors to think about as well.

Ideally, it would be such a positive experience that both people would want to continue seeking/giving mentorship throughout the community.

If you have additional things to add, please contribute!