Having a mentor can be great. Here are some tips to start off on the right foot. 

  1. Have realistic expectation
    • Realize that a single mentor relationship is not designed to satisfy all your career and professional needs.
    • Stay focused on the agreed goals and respect your mentor's limited time.
    • Be prepared to ask for specific advice on your skill set, ideas, plans and goals.
    • The more specific you are, the easier it will be for your mentor to respond.
  2. Be curious
    • Have an open mind to allow yourself to explore careers and industries with your mentor.
  3. Don't get discouraged
    • The early stages of a mentoring relationship can feel awkward. Starting any relationship takes time and patience. Remember, you are developing competencies that are essential in professional networking and relationships.
  4. ​Be considerate
    • Be prompt for all meetings whether by Skype/FaceTime, phone or other means.  If you need to reschedule, give plenty of advance notice.  Meet your mentor's expectations for communication tone and style. 
  5. Be appropriate in your requests of your mentor
    • Your mentor is not responsible for finding you a job or internship. While they may end up helping with your search process, this is not their primary function.
  6. Keep the content of discussions within the mentoring relationship confidential
    • Discuss communications confidentiality with your mentor - both personal and professional - and their expectations of you.
  7. Express appreciation
    • Let your mentor know when he or she has helped you, and express appreciation for this guidance. Take the time to send a brief handwritten note of thanks to your mentor at the conclusion of the mentorship. Stay in touch afterwards with occasional updates and sharing your successes.

Introductory E-mail

What to include

  • Who you are and what you hope to grain from a mentoring relationship
  • Thanking them for agreeing to be your mentor
  • A couple of sentences about your background, such as your year in school, major, jobs or activities--keep in mind that they have already viewed your profile
  • Asking for the best time and way to talk (phone, Skype, Google Hangouts, or another means)

Example

Dear _____:

My name is ______, and I received your name from the Virginia Alumni Mentoring Program. Thank you for accepting me as your mentee. A roommate of mine participated in the program, and she recommended that I sign up because her mentor helped her explore career goals.  I am a third year majoring in psychology. Outside of classes I volunteer with the Adopt-a-Grandparent program through Madison House. I am also very involved in undergraduate research in the psychology lab on Grounds, primarily helping with behavioral testing models.  I signed up for the program because I am interested in learning about the rewards and challenges of working in a non-profit organization, and how I can best prepare to work in that environment while at U.Va.  The Virginia Alumni Mentoring staff suggested that the first step is for us to talk over the phone or via Skype and to establish goals for the semester. I look forward to hearing from you to arrange a time to talk.

Thank you again for agreeing to be my mentor.

Sincerely,