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Mentoring Suggestions

Strategies & Considerations for Initial Conversations

To-Do List

Strategies for Conversation

Questions to Ponder

Take time getting to know each other.

Obtain a copy of the mentor’s bio in advance of the conversation. If one is not available, create one through conversation.

What kind of information might you exchange to get to know each other better? What points of connection have you discovered in your conversation? What else to you want to learn about each other?

Talk about mentoring.

Share your previous mentoring experiences with your mentoring partner if applicable.

What did you like about your experiences that you each want to carry forward into this relationship?

Share your learning and developmental goals.

Describe your academic/career vision, hopes and dreams, and articulate broad learning goals and the reasons why they are important.

Why do you want to engage in this relationship? What learning goals would align with your vision of the future?

Determine relationship needs and expectations.

Ask: What do you want out of the relationship?

Be sure you are clear about each other’s needs, wants, and expectations for this mentoring relationship.

Candidly share your personal assumptions and limitations.

Ask your mentor about his or her assumptions and limitations. Discuss implications for your relationship.

What assumptions do you hold about each other and your relationship? What are you each willing and capable of contributing to the relationship? What limitations do you each bring to the relationship?

Discuss your personal styles.

Talk about your personal styles. You may have data from instruments such as True Colors, MBTI, etc.

How might each other’s styles affect the learning that goes in the mentoring relationship?


Tip #1: Engage Your Mentee

Your mentee may have information needs about the different subtleties of a particular situation or organization.

Some helpful suggestions for addressing these issues are:

  • Start with your mentee’s questions.
  • Identify your mentee’s goals.
  • Determine what your mentee wants to know.
  • Present alternative approaches for reaching those goals.


  • Tell everything you know about the subject.
  • Talk about “How it was in my day.” Stick to the present.

Tip #2: Lend An Ear

Hearing is the easy part. Listening is a different story. Sometimes your mentee may have issues they would like to talk to you about.

Some helpful suggestions for listening:

  • Suspend judgment.
  • Acknowledge emotions.
  • Be empathetic.
  • Provide immediate feedback.
  • Acknowledge what you hear as well as what is not being said.


  • Play the role of a therapist.
  • Concentrate only on your mentee’s emotions.
  • Solve the problem for your mentee.

Tip #3: Provide a Helping Hand

Sometimes offering a helping hand can serve as a catalyst to finding out the bigger issue and promote a fuller discussion.

Helpful ways to provide a helping hand:

  • Provide encouragement in multiple and timely ways.
  • Know when to ask the right question and how to convey the message, “You can do it.”
  • Talk through possible strategies.
  • Co-create opportunities.


  • Prepare a script of what you should say.
  • Talk for the mentee in or out of the mentee’s presence.

Tip #4: Keep the Relationship Going

All too often people put a lot of energy into starting a relationship and assume that because of initial effort, the relationship will continue to develop.  Relationships require effort and persistence. Keep putting energy in to your mentoring relationship so that you sustain a beneficial relationship.

Tip #5: Do Not Be Afraid To Be A Mentor

You know a lot about TEXAS STATE and what it has to offer students. Don’t underestimate the amount of knowledge you actually know.

Tip #6: Do Not Expect To Have All The Answers

Sometimes you may not know the answer to a problem or question, that’s OK. Sometimes listening is all people need.

Tip #7: Avoid Being Overwhelmed with Your Mentee’s Problems

Your mentee could be dealing with a lot of extra weight at some point in their college life. The last thing they need is for you to feel like their problems are too much for them. Remain calm and try to help solve some of those problems.