What Can You Expect From a Mentorship?

mentortiesIs it unreasonable to have expectations in a mentorship?

James Ryan Moreau asked me on twitter, “are mentors supposed to refer you to job postings? I found frustration in the past when I wasn’t getting interviews.”

My knee jerk reaction to the question was, you should never assume that a mentor owes you anything.  They’re committing their time as a mentor and it’s up to them what aspects of a mentorship they want to provide.

But after more thought, something like job recommendations seems like a reasonable expectation.  I think that if you respect a young professional enough to take them on as a mentee, you should be able to trust that they’ll represent you well.  If not, you shouldn’t take on taht person as a mentee.

Mentors expect things from the mentees too, don’t they?  A lot of mentorships consist of a mentor providing advice, and resources, while the mentee acts as an assistant that helps their mentor with work.  Or a mentor might just expect a mentee to work hard, to respect their time and to put in the extra effort in their career.T

Expectations are mutual.  A healthy mentorship is one in which both the mentor and the mentee trust and respect each other.  They’re professionals and they’re friends.  They’ll help each other whenever possible.

It shouldn’t be built on expectations, but rather the will to help and to learn.

Have any thoughts on this?

View all Mentor Monday posts.

6 thoughts on “What Can You Expect From a Mentorship?

  1. The only thing I expected from my mentor was advice and guidance. Luckily, she believed in me and did recommend me for a position, but I was surprised and very thankful for it!

  2. I agree with your first point that young professionals should avoid expecting anything from mentors. Obviously if you consider the person a mentor, or somebody has been defined as your mentor, they will act as they feel is appropriate.

    Going into a mentorship situation, you should expect to work hard, listen carefully, and soak up knowledge. Beyond that, you get into some sticky positions.

    If a person is consistently in a mentor role, they will evaluate which people they will recommend. If you simply expect a recommendation, you are not likely to work as hard for it.

    If your mentor won’t recommend you (even after asking), look at your performance and ask if you deserve it.

    1. This then leads into a discussion of whether or not professionals are taking mentorships too lightly. Are they choose the right mentees? Are they guiding the people that deserve it? Or are they just helping whoever asks. I think mentors have a responsibility too. If you’re going to enter into a formal mentorship, you have to choose wisely and be willing to commit to it, if you’re going to get the most out of it.

  3. Having a mentor is like taking a girl out on a date. You have to make all the right moves. Wine and dine then. Listen to what they have to say, but add to the conversation. Compliment them because that’s what they like to hear. Treat your mentor like you have been living your whole life just so you could finally meet them. Do all of this, and they still might not put out. That’s the risk we take, but if you stay the course you might eventually reach that wonderful goal.

    Like women, a good mentor is worth their weight in gold, while us suitors are a dime a dozen. While you never know if a mentor will finally let you in their pants and give you a recommendation, I say god bless them for showing up.

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