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An Introvert's Guide to being a Mentor

The idea of being a mentor can feel like this huge heavy thing. We tell ourselves we aren't ready yet, but we are. Being a mentor is about helping someone along the same path as you. And if you are on the path you are already farther than those that haven't started. Therefore, you too can be a mentor.

Mentorship can be done online, through phone calls, and in person. No matter what form the contact takes, here is an outline I like to go through.

Shoutout to the most amazing unicorn in the universe for inspiring the organization of this outline. I didn't know this was the outline I did until I saw it.

Starting Mentorship Outline

  1. Introduce myself
    • It can be long or short, but at minimum have where you currently are and how you got there.
    • E.g. "Hi, I'm Jenn. I am a self taught web developer. I have a degree in chemistry but have always had some sort of tech job to play the bills. I have worked for large corporations and small mom & pop shops. I enjoy learning and teaching others."
  2. Ask my mentee to tell me about themselves
    • Their background
    • Their current position
  3. Why do they want a mentor?
    • They are driving the relationship, you are there to supply guidance and support
  4. What do they want to get out of this?
    • Do they want a promotion?
    • Do they want to increase their skills?
    • Something else?
  5. What are their goals?
    • Where do they want to go from here?
    • What are they currently doing to achieve that?
    • What is preventing them from achieving it?
  6. Help them prioritize their goals
    • What is needed versus nice to have
    • What you can help with right now
    • I like to limit it to 1 to 3 goals
  7. Set expectations
    • How do they prefer to communicate?
    • How often do they want check ins?
    • How long is this mentorship for?
  8. Any other questions they have
  9. Schedule the next check in

And that is it. You have completed the first meeting with your mentee!

Checkins have a much smaller outline.

Checkin Outline

  1. Ask about how they are doing today.
    • Emotions are important, we all have good days and bad days.
  2. Let them know about how you are doing.
    • Mentors can struggle to, let them know we all aren't perfect.
    • Mention a goal you are working towards.
  3. Ask about progress towards their goal
    • Were they able to work on it?
    • Do they need assistance?
    • Does the goal need clarification?
    • Did they achieve it?
    • Repeat for other goals.
  4. Quickly review expectations
    • Confirm communication method
  5. Schedule the next check in

Mentorship can take many different forms. It is important to figure out the form that works best for you and your mentee.

Happy mentoring!

Top comments (4)

juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

Well done Jenn, this post effectively captures the essence of mentoring. I've done some informal mentoring on my last year of college and it's true that while it may seem daunting at first, it is very rewarding in the long run. Also props for the check-in outline, that's pretty solid ;)

scotthannen profile image
Scott Hannen

Where do you do online mentoring? I wouldn't mind being a mentor and a mentee.

geekgalgroks profile image

I haven't done online mentoring in ages. But I have mentored over Twitter, IRC, Slack, video chat, and email.

I'll have to do a follow-up piece on how to find mentors.

rvictorino profile image
Robin Victorino

This follow-up article idea is great! I'm looking forward to reading it!