Unsure of what to discuss during your mentoring sessions?  Here are some ideas to get you started.

First Meeting

Use the following to learn more about your mentor. Refer to the questions and suggested topics, but also allow your conversations to progress naturally. 

Introductions

  • Briefly share your personal and professional history, and discuss your UVA experiences.
  • Establish rapport by identifying points of connection and exchanging information.
  • Organizations/activities involved in at University of Virginia
  • Highlights of your college experience
  • First job/first position expected following graduation
  • Favorite place on Grounds or UVA tradition 

Set Expectations

  • Discuss how often you would like to talk. 
  • We suggest 2-4 times per semester, or at least 1 meeting per month.

Discuss Expectations and Mentoring Goals

  • Work with your mentor to clarify the career-related topics on which you most desire advice.
  • Establish goals and a timeline for completing those goals. Agree to modify if necessary.
  • What do you want out of the mentoring partnership?
  • What does a successful mentoring relationship look like?
  • How would you describe each of our roles?

Planning Communication

Take a few minutes to set mutual, realistic, and achievable communication expectations for your mentoring partnership.

  • How much time can you realistically commit to communicating each time together? What is the best time of day for you to connect?
  • What is the best method of communication for your partnership? Is it email, online chat, telephone, Skype or a combination? What do you prefer?
  • Consider times of the year when you anticipate being very busy with academic, work, or personal commitments.
  • Set a time and date for your next meeting
    Make sure to exchange relevant contact information. You may want to briefly follow up with your mentor via email after your first meeting to thank him/her and remind each other what you decided. 

Mentee Discussion Topics

Need some suggestions of discussion topics? This list of questions will help you connect with your mentor. Remember to focus on their personal experiences rather than generic information about their job or company.

Career Related
  • What have been the highlights of your career so far?
  • What do you like most about the company?
  • Why did you choose to go to Company XYZ?
  • Why did you choose to come here over the other options you had at the time? 
Job Focused
  • How would you describe the culture of the company? 
  • How is it different from other companies in your industry or those that you’ve worked for in the past?
  • Can you describe your typical day or week? 
Company Focused
  • What were the biggest challenges in your first year of work?
  • What would you change about the company? 
Future Focused
  • Do you have any recommendations about how I can prepare for and succeed in interviews with your company?
  • Are there any other people you would recommend that I speak to learn more about this role/industry? 

Mentor Discussion Topics

As you get to know each other, you and your mentee will discuss many topics related to career preparation, your personal and professional backgrounds and goals, and strategies for preparing to enter the professional world.  If you need ideas about how to proceed beyond the initial conversation, here are some suggestions to keep the relationship moving forward.

Tell Your Story - Professional

  • Discuss your educational background and the role that education played in your transition into the professional world.
  • How has your industry and position changed in the past 3-5 years?
  • Share information about current trends or emerging issues in your field.
  • Give tips or suggestions for preparing to work in a professional environment, from your personal experience.

Tell Your Story - Personal

  • Share how you have balanced personal life and career and what to expect.
  • Discuss what you would do differently in college if you had a chance to start over.
  • Talk about how you have dealt with personal or professional challenges during the course of your career.

Building Connections and Networking

  • Introduce your mentee to colleagues or other alumni contacts.
  • Talk to your mentee about professional associations, networking groups, or other affiliations within your field.
  • Guide your mentee in professional etiquette and how to conduct an informational interview.

Internship and Job Search Advice

Graduate and Professional School Experiences

  • What influenced your decision to attend graduate/professional school when and where you did?
  • Share what you learned about navigating your graduate studies.
  • Discuss how graduate school is different, and how you worked with advisors.
  • Describe how you prepared for your transition from graduate student to professional.