21 questions students should ask mentors
Most successful people have had several mentors at all different stages of their careers. The title of “mentor” is an honor, not a burden. So, do your background work, calm your nerves as best you can, and get to connecting! Here’s a piece in Harvard Business Review about how mentorship can be life changing.
Starting a mentor-mentee relationship while you’re still in high school or college is a huge advantage.
Mentors want you to succeed
As a student, the most important thing to keep in mind is that mentors want you to succeed. Their role is to offer insight, share experiences, and be a sounding board. There’s no such thing as a dumb question. Be straightforward about your interests and goals, and keep an open mind. Your time with a mentor may confirm your current path, or it may reveal an entirely new path for you.
Schedule a regular time to meet, preferably in person. Maybe the first Saturday of each month you buy your mentor a pancake breakfast. Your conversation will be relaxed and informal, but do go prepared with more questions than you’ll be able to cover. You probably won’t have time to go through more than three questions during a session, but that’s fine.
Here are a whole bunch of questions to ask your mentor
- How do you know if your goals are too easy or too difficult to achieve?
- Have you ever had to make a big shift in your career path?
- How should I communicate with employers so they know I’m interested in the work but not distract them from their own jobs?
- How do I know when to ask questions versus when to just follow instructions?
- How do you keep yourself motivated to pursue goals when it feels like you aren’t making progress?
- What do you think young professionals have to offer that they might not realize?
- How should a young professional measure success during the first few years of a career?
- Where should I look for networking opportunities?
- What organizations or memberships have helped you the most in your career?
- What do you think are my strengths and weaknesses?
- Have you taken risks in your career? If so, how did that turn out?
- How do you handle stress at work?
- What are the biggest challenges working in your industry?
- Are there any books that have helped you either personally or professionally?
- How do you know if you should stick with a company or explore other opportunities?
- What should I do to build a professional network?
- How can I present myself in a way that stands out but still taken seriously?
- Where do you look for inspiration?
- How might young professionals pitch new ideas to coworkers?
- Do you have any brainstorming techniques you recommend?
- What type of questions do you wish I asked during our mentorship meetings?
No more procrastinating!
If you’re still looking, here’s a Forbes article on how to find and identify a mentor who’s a good fit for you and your goals. There’s no need to put this off any longer. The mentor relationship isn’t about getting a certain grade on a test, it’s big picture success-building!
As you go, track your progress in your spikeview portfolio. And if you’ve ever got questions, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.