Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Ask AWNY features questions sent in by the Mentoring Program community!

Q. I joined the Mentoring Program this year and had a great time with my mentor. I want to keep learning from new people, though, so I applied for a new mentor in 2010. Here's my problem— I want to keep up some kind of relationship with my current mentor since she's very easygoing and I trust her judgment. What is the best way to broach this topic with her before the year is up? I feel awkward because I don’t want to offend her in any way. Thanks!

A. You should absolutely keep up a relationship with your mentor! That said, navigating your mentor relationship after the New Year can be daunting, because ambiguity can create unnecessary anxiety.

"Are you...breaking up with me??!"

I promise it will not be that dramatic. Successful formal relationships end all the time— think about the last professional workshop you attended. It's a compliment to your mentor that you want to join the Mentoring Program again and stay in touch with her— it shows you found it (and her) to be a valuable part of your professional growth.

First, take charge. Approach the topic with your mentor the same way you discussed your goals when you met. A great time to bring it up is when you talk about your 2009 achievements (don’t forget to thank her for contributing to your success!) and list out your goals for 2010.

Even if you encountered obstacles during the year, don't be afraid to bring them up! You can both work together to brainstorm ways to learn from your experiences, so don’t pass up the opportunity.

Next issue: After your last “official” meeting, you likely won’t meet up once a month, but if your relationship is strong, you can still go to your mentor with the same kinds of problems or triumphs that you did during the previous year.

Mentoring Program veterans have told me about their current relationships with former mentors, and their experiences range quite a bit. It's very common to catch up often with a "former" mentor, but without the same regularity and focus as that first year. While some pairs simply swap emails around personal and professional milestones, some still make coffee dates and others call when they need a pep talk, an unbiased point of view or just want to say hello. (Shameless plug: some mentees invite their former mentors to AWNY events!) The happy medium is whatever you both want it to be.

The good news is that mentors don’t disappear or turn into pumpkins after the Times Square ball drops. You should always be cultivating a "cabinet" of professional mentors, so get excited— it sounds like you are well on your way. Good luck!

Send your mentoring questions to All senders will remain anonymous!

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