Career Mentor Guidelines: A Critical Strategy for Career Success

Developing relationships can be the key between key career success and career stagnation. This was the lead-in for Dr. Cheryl Leitschuh’s recent Master’s Connection presentation at the University of St. Thomas. It is important to have mentors who know you and understand your personal objectives said Leitschuh. You also need advocates who can act as informants inside of other organizations. Advocates trust your brand and can assist you with learning about their company cultures or networking for better opportunities.

More than 50 full-time first- and second-year UST MBA students are partnered with mentors across the metro area at companies including Accenture, Target Corporation, Medtronic and 3M. This partnership is an effort to create lasting relationships, designed to match students with a seasoned professional in the students’ desired discipline and industry. In regular face to face meetings mentors aid in career path examination, professional goal setting and act as a guide both educationally and professionally. Confidence, networking skills and exposure to industry settings are also all great benefits for mentees.

To start a mentor partnership of your own, here are a few discussion guidelines that can be followed at each meeting:

Meeting One: Career Assessment and Objectives

  • Establish list of three to five realistic and achievable goals to be met over the course of the mentorship
  • Work to arrange a timeline for future meetings
  • Discuss current events, news, politics or other areas of mutual interest
  • Dive into the career path of your mentor, ask them to describe the most challenging moment in their career and how he or she dealt with it, or discuss what they learned on their own that they wish someone had told them
  • Provide your professional work history along with personal passions that have led to current career decisions or outlooks

Meeting Two: Networking Enrichment

  • Attend the mentor’s company networking events together, conduct office tours, and introduce the mentee to colleagues, discuss communication and presentation tactics for interacting with various levels of organizations
  • Review current trends, industry topics, and other pertinent news that could change shared industry
  • Review your “personal pitch” with your mentor, ask for suggestions
  • Review professional résumé templates and send the mentee’s résumé to friends and colleagues for feedback

Meeting Three: Job Preparation and Career Development

  • Ask your mentor for a case study, current/previous work related issue or other project and work to provide insight, suggest improvements or further analysis to assist with the project
  • Arrange to meet with a person in a department of the mentor’s company with whom the mentor has not interacted or does not know
  • The mentee can identify three companies her or she is interested in, and schedule informational interviews at these companies, and the mentor and mentee can work together to prepare a list of talking points for the interviews
  • Ask mentor to provide list of three to five additional professionals to network with for further development

Meeting Four: Program Recap & Professional Networking

  • Meet one-on-one to review the mentee’s original objectives
  • Set realistic expectations with mentor for career path, and professional trajectory
  • Begin developing 2-year, 5-year and 10-year career plans

It is important that a mentoring relationship be led by the mentee. Each person should be committed to the relationship, but scheduling, conversation topics and proper preparation should all be completed by the mentee. Goal setting, and a review of the mentee’s current and desired skill set will provide the framework to a prosperous and beneficial mentoring relationship.

The next Master’s Connection event, “The 20 Minute Networking Meeting,” presented by Nathan Perez, will be held on Wednesday, March 26. Since networking is critical for job searching, career transitioning and general promotion of one’s brand, his focus will be on getting the most value from more concise informational meetings.