Thursday, March 18, 2010

10 Questions You Should Ask Your Mentor by Vicky Sullivan

There are no right or wrong questions to ask your mentor, but here are some guidelines that many help further develop a meaningful and productive conversation:

1. How did you get where you are today? Chances are you would like to someday be where your mentor currently is in their career. Hearing their story can often help you in writing your own.

2. What qualities do you look for in the people you hire? Someday at an interview, you will probably find yourself face-to-face with someone very similar to your mentor. Get the scoop on what these people are really looking for in a casual setting.

3. What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry? Since your mentor probably has more experience than you, it’s good to hear in advance what you might be facing in the future.

4. I am looking to _____ (e.g. switch my career from account management to account planning.) If you were me, what would you place your attention on and what are some pitfalls you would avoid? You mentor is there to guide you. Therefore, use your mentor's experience and knowledge to plan your own career advancement. I'm sure they wish they knew what they know now when they were in your shoes.

5. How should I approach my boss about _____? When you want to propose a new idea or tell your boss about an issue, it is often not what you say, but how you say it. You mentor’s previous experiences will help you find the superlative approach allowing you to arrive at the best solution.

6. What do you like most about your career? This could be a valuable question especially if you are thinking about switching careers or are not sure about what your next step should be. Your mentor could be a source of great insight into another area of the industry.

7. What characteristics or skills set you apart from your peers and enabled you to be so successful so quickly? Membership in AWNY is all about developing skills that will help advance your career quickly and more effectively. Who better to learn this from than your mentor?

8. How do you manage work/life balance? With a demanding career, it sometimes seems impossible to separate your job from your personal life. Your mentor probably has some tricks up their sleeve as to how to get the most out of your personal time.

9. How was your weekend? Getting to know your mentor on a personal level through their hobbies and interests is a very significant part of the mentor to mentee relationship. Feel free to form both a friendship and professional relationship with your mentor and sharing stories can help strengthen the bond.

10. When do you want to meet next? Both you and your mentor probably have very busy schedules so it is very important to plan ahead in order to stay on the same page. Do not let your time with your mentor lapse. If you can not meet set 15 minutes aside one day to speak over the phone.

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