RTC Mentoring Program Overview
Knowing that our Mentee’s needs and timelines fluctuate throughout the year, we have purposefully designed a flexible program so that Mentees can reach out to connect with a Mentor at times one is most needed. The Mentor and Mentee will make decisions about timing, cadence, location, and the length of the relationship that works best for them. A Mentee may request a single, purpose-driven meeting or may desire a longer-term mentoring relationship in which RTC recommends committing to no more than three months at a time. This offers a length of time rapport can be built and goals achieved, but also provides a clear end that will allow for a conversation about completing or continuing the mentoring relationship.
What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative at-will relationship where one person shares their knowledge, skills, and experience to assist another in progressing in their own life and career. A Mentor serves as an objective sounding board and an experienced person whom the Mentee can look to as a role model and source of knowledge. The role of the Mentor is to assist Mentees in professional and personal development, prepare them for their job search, and guide them on their career path. It is NOT the Mentors role to get a Mentee a job, and Mentees should never go into a relationship with that expectation.
RTC Mentee Expectations
- Identify the developmental area or goal you want to achieve and match them to a potential Mentor. You can search Mentors and appointments based on the areas of discussion Mentors have included in their profiles and appointments.
- Always respond to your Mentor within 48 business hours. We have asked them to do the same.
- Prepare for each meeting so you are making the most of your time together. See the ‘Meetings with Your Mentor’ section in this guide.
- Always behave professionally through actions and communication when interacting with a Mentor.
- Although most meetings will be virtual, in-person meetings are expected to occur in a public space.
- No-showing is not an option and is against the RTC community Code of Conduct! Please show the ultimate respect for the Mentor by showing up on time and not taking up more time than the meeting allowed.
- Find a way to show your Mentor your appreciation. Even if it was just one meeting, a thank you email that includes something specific they helped you with goes a long way.
Ready to Find a Mentor?
- Start by searching teamRTC’s Mentoring module. Choose Mentor Appointments to see which Mentors already have times set up for your needs (area of discussion) as this is the most direct route to a Mentor.
- If nothing is available for your need, use the Mentor Database to identify and reach out to a potential Mentor. Use teamRTC DM or the email provided to contact the Mentor directly. Be specific about what you need help with and offer some proposed times you could meet. See the FAQs section of this guide for tips on this first email!
- If you have set up a time to meet with a Mentor either through the appointment module or directly with the mentor and need to reschedule, you must provide a minimum of 24 hours notice, and it is your responsibility to reach out to the Mentor to let them know. It is NEVER ok to no-show, and it violates RTC’s Code of Conduct.
Meetings with Your Mentor
If a mentor and Mentee enter a longer relationship (more than one appointment), RTC recommends meeting bi-weekly for 45-60 minutes for no more than 3-month commitments. Ultimately, Mentors and Mentees can decide how often they will meet and for how long. Below are some suggestions to make the most of your meetings.
Your first meeting is important because you will not only be getting to know each other, but you will be setting the expectations and priorities for the relationship. We have told the Mentors that you will come prepared to discuss these important things:
- Build rapport. A mentoring conversation is short, and you have much to achieve within that time frame, but taking the first minute or so to break the ice sets a positive tone for the rest of the meeting. Building rapport helps you get to know the person better and gives you important clues into the person’s interests and perspectives. Write down at least four questions to help you get to know your Mentor better.
- Goals and how are those prioritized. Are you in most need to get help with your resume? Want to discuss the job search? Do you want to know more about your Mentor’s experience in a certain role or discipline? Do you want to discuss what her experience has been like as a woman in tech? Make a list and prioritize before your first meeting! Share with your Mentor so she can understand and anticipate future conversations.
- How often should you meet, when, and how? Discussing these questions is important to decide what works for your schedules. Meeting every other week is a good place to start the conversation, although you might agree to a different schedule based on your needs and the Mentor’s availability.
- Length of Relationship. It is important to discuss this from the beginning. RTC recommends Mentors and Mentees commit to 3 months at a time. This allows an easy end if the relationship is not a good fit or your goals have been achieved but also allows enough time for the relationship to gain momentum. Evaluating the relationship and deciding if you’d like to ask the Mentor to continue with you longer is also a good point.
Ongoing Meetings Framework Recommendation:
- Establish rapport and offer a progress update
- Mentoring conversation or activity focused on your goal/developmental area
- Decide on the next meeting, if not already planned
The three-month mark is where the relationship is expected to end but can continue depending on your needs and the Mentor’s availability and willingness. Here are some items to discuss during this meeting:
- Acknowledge the three-month mark and come prepared to discuss what you have learned.
- Share your plan for further development and ask your Mentor where they see challenges you should work on.
- Ask your Mentor what you should look for in a future Mentor or ask if they would consider continuing the relationship if you feel you have more to learn from them.
- Don’t forget to show your appreciation! A handwritten card is especially nice.
Top 10 Tips for Mentees
- Be prepared for your Mentoring sessions. Model professionalism in your Mentor meetings by being prompt, prepared, and professional. Preparation means coming to the conversations with a good idea of what you want to focus on during the time together. Be punctual, well-organized, and ready to give a brief update on recent developments. Consider proposing an agenda for the day’s conversation.
- Establish a mutually agreeable plan for mentoring sessions. Include how much time each of you needs if a session has to be postponed. Schedule the sessions on your calendar immediately and build in enough time around the sessions to prepare. Your Mentor is a volunteer whose extra time is scarce. Establishing a time commitment and ensuring that conversations start and end on time will demonstrate respect and responsibility to your Mentor.
- Let your Mentor know who you are. Share your hopes, fears, ideas, and goals openly, even if your Mentor has quite a different background or style. Do share your life situation as well as your professional goals. Your Mentor will then be able to put your situation in perspective.
- Focus on the relationship, not the outcome. Your Mentor’s role is NOT to get a job for you. Be realistic in your expectations and focus on building a relationship, not obtaining a particular referral from the Mentor.
- Ask direct questions. Ask about what you most want to know. Since the Mentee is the one who establishes the agenda for the conversation, you are in a position to set up the conversation in a way that provides the most relevance and value for you. Let your Mentor know what is most on your mind and what would be most helpful to discuss. If the conversation strays, prompt the Mentor to return to the original topic. You are responsible for ensuring that the conversation meets your needs.
- Listen with an open mind. Often, we turn off our listening when we believe that the perspective being offered isn’t pertinent or that the person speaking is “different” from us. However, your Mentor’s experience – however distant in time or industry-specific it may be – will carry a nugget of learning for you. Challenge yourself to find the connection rather than rule out the advice or perspective that you are hearing. Be ready to learn something new as a result of the conversation.
- Ask curious questions. The most enjoyable Mentoring sessions flow with a natural back-and-forth dialogue. Relax and enjoy getting to know another person. Don’t be shy about asking curious questions, such as, “What was that like for you?” or “How did you feel at the time?” Ask a question or two at the start of each session to get to know your Mentor’s experiences, such as, “I’d love to learn about your career path…” or “What do you know in hindsight that you could share with me about how you achieved professional success?”
- Provide context and brief updates to help your Mentor to understand you. While the Mentor doesn’t need to know everything about you, it’s helpful to both of you if you use the first session to get to know each other. At the beginning of each session, provide a brief update on your progress since the last conversation.
- Take Notes. It’s difficult to remember key points and commitments after the meeting. Keep a notebook and jot down ideas and insights during and between sessions. Capture the commitments you and your Mentor make to each other so you can follow up appropriately.
- Follow up on agreements. If you’ve committed to taking a step due to the Mentoring session, ensure you do so. It is discouraging for the Mentor if you have made commitments you don’t act upon. You can also help the Mentor keep their commitments by sending a brief thank you note after a session that lists any agreed-upon actions from either of you.
- BONUS TIP! Say thank you, often. Remember to thank you after each session and appreciate specific insights or examples that helped you. This information will let your Mentor know more about what you value and how they make a difference for you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Jade Barricelli at email@example.com.