TO DO: Connect with your Mentor…

One of the best ways to prepare for life after Penn – as well as to help you make the most of your time at Penn – is to find a mentor.  Once you have one….the idea is to stay in touch!  Alumnae Liana Esposito (EAS ‘2007) has kindly shared her recommendations for connecting with your mentor, enhancing your experience at Penn…and beyond.

TO DO: Mentoring

Making the Most of Your Mentor

  1. Get involved! Having a mentor will help you learn about career options and may guide you through an often overwhelming process of choosing a career path.  Your mentor may become the start of your professional network.
  2. Be proactive. Do a little background research on the type of industry and position in which you may be interested.  Mentors are volunteers who participate in the program because they want to assist people less established in careers by providing information and advice.  Allow them to help you.  Be proactive about establishing contact and initiating the conversation.  Understand that having a mentor will not guarantee you a job or an internship.  Talking to your mentor will shed light on a type of job or industry of interest to you and put you in direct contact with a professional in that field.  Your mentor is a personal resource who will guide you as you explore career options.
  3. Ask the hard questions. General questions will get you an overview but specific and direct questions will allow you learn more from your mentor.  For example, you could ask how it is working for [insert industry/company/etc. here], but you will learn a lot more by asking what is it that drew your mentor to X, what keeps them at X, what is the most challenging thing about being a part of X or one thing that they would change about X.  Asking poignant questions will give you thoughtful and direct responses and facilitate your conversation.
  4. Nurture the relationship. Be conscious of how much time passes between e-mails or phone calls.  Often, it is easier to decide at the beginning of the relationship how often you will be in contact.  There is no “correct” schedule, the amount of contact depends upon both parties and their availability.
  5. Learn as much as possible. Take advantage of the personal time with a professional in your field.  Share your resume with your mentor and get feedback.  Ask for advice about academic and career decisions.  If given the opportunity, meet with your mentor in person, tour their work facility and meet and speak with some of their coworkers to expand your network.

Author: Jamie Grant

Jamie Grant is Associate Director of Career Services for the School of Engineering and Applied Science.