10 Steps to a Successful Mentoring Relationship
Step 1: Self-Assessment and preparation of your CV or biography sheet
One of the most important things in having a successful relationship with your mentor is being prepared and knowing what it is that you would like to get out of it. In order to be prepared, you should attend an online CV workshop at or a Coffee with a Career Advisor online Drop-in. To book a virtual appointment with a Career Advisor, please call (514) 398-3304, email careers.caps [at] mcgill.ca or book online through myFuture. On-site bookings are not available at this moment.
Step 2: Application Process and Online Video Training
After you fill in the online application and request for a mentor, you will be sent an email containing required steps you need to complete to get matched with your mentor. The online video training allows students to learn about and prepare for the mentoring match at their own pace. Once you’ve completed all the steps, you will be matched and you will be given your mentor’s contact information, as well as additional valuable information about the program.
Step 3: Preparation (become informed)
Before you contact your mentor, it is important to be prepared: Research the company/organization for which the mentor works, and find out a little more information about his/her position and the industry in general. You can do your research on the Internet, or come in to the CaPS office and take advantage of our Career Library.
Once you have completed your research, begin thinking about what kinds of question you would like to ask your mentor. A list of suggested questions can be viewed in the section titled "Questions to ask your mentor".
Step 4: First contact
Your first contact with your mentor should be made by e-mail. When you email your mentor, you should attach a copy of your CV and a short biography. Let your mentor know who you are, what you are studying, and what your goals are.
In order to properly initiate your match, you must either CC your introductory e-mail to the McGill Mentor Coordinator (mentor.caps [at] mcgill.ca), or e-mail the coordinator a short confirmation that you have contacted your mentor. You have two weeks from the day you receive the contact information to get in touch with your mentor or your match can be terminated and your mentor could be matched with another student.
Step 5: First meeting
Reach out to your mentor by phone or email. Ask for their availability to help you in arranging a virtual appointment. Ask them to suggest the most appropriate day and time of day. This is an opportunity for you to explore a career field of interest, practice professionalism, and work towards some personal or career-orientated goals with guidance. Your mentor is meant to be more than someone who will answer a list of questions, they are there to help you make decisions and prepare for the future.
Step 6: Follow-ups
At the two month mark, the Mentor Coordinator will send you and your mentor a follow-up e-mail. It is important that you respond to these e-mails promptly; this will allow the Coordinator to keep the program running as smoothly as possible. If you ever have a question or any concerns you can always reach us at mentor.caps [at] mcgill.ca. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
Step 7: Future meetings/contacts
It is important to be in contact with your mentor regularly. It is common for students to initiate contact with a mentor and then lose interest; this kind of irregular communication will leave a bad impression with the mentor. How often you contact the mentor depends on both yours and his/her schedule. Be sure to ask the mentor about his/her availability as soon as possible.
Step 8: Ending the match
Matches last 2 months. After this period, the match will be completed and the Mentor Coordinator will notify you and your mentor. You may keep in contact with your mentor at his/her discretion, but CaPS will not monitor future communications. Two months is the maximum length of time for a match, but you may choose to end it at any time. Please contact the Mentor Coordinator to notify him/her when you wish to complete your match. He/she can then match your mentor with another student, and if desired, re-match you with a new mentor.
Step 9: Student Feedback Form
Upon completion of the match, you will be sent a link to a short Student Evaluation From. Feedback from both the mentor and the student allows us to continually improve our program, so please fill out the form as honestly as possible.
Step 10: Thank you Email
Your mentor is a professional with limited time, and has volunteered to help you in your career search. Though not required, it is recommended that you send your mentor a short thank you email upon completion of the match. It will reflect well upon your personal, and professional image!
Suggested Questions to Ask Your Mentor
The keys to a successful mentoring relationship are your enthusiasm, preparation and ability to communicate clearly. Before you meet your mentor, think about the type of information which would be helpful for you. The following questions are meant to help you get started.
Questions about your mentor’s career path/training
- What kind of education/training do you have?
- What was your experience at McGill like?
- How did your time at McGill prepare you for your career? Are your studies at all related to your career?
- How did you manage the transition from school to work?
- How did you get your first job post-graduation?
- What has your career path been like to date? Is it representative of most people in this kind of position?
- How important is a graduate degree, designation, or additional certificate in this field?
- Are you a member of any professional orders or associations? Which ones do you feel are the most important to belong to?
- What are the future prospects like in this field? What trends do you see developing over the next few years?
- If you could change any aspects of your career, what would you change?
Questions about their current position and responsibilities
- How did you obtain your current position?
- What are your primary job responsibilities?
- What does a typical day/week in your job look like?
- What do you enjoy the most about your job? The least?
- What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
- What kind of professional development opportunities are available?
- Are there many opportunities for advancement in this position/organization?
- Who are the people who usually excel in this field/position? What personal qualities do you need to succeed?
Questions about working conditions
- How many hours do you work in an average week?
- How much autonomy do you have in terms of what you focus on at work?
- What kind of supervision did you have when you were starting out? Currently?
- How is your performance evaluated?
- How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, hours, vacation or job location?
Questions relating to your current situation and future goals
- What advice would you like to have heard when you were starting out?
- How would you recommend I “try out” this line of work while I am still in school?
- Do you have any recommendations with regards to useful courses to take or extracurricular activities to be involved with?
- Are there any other fields or jobs you would suggest I research/explore?
- How do people find out about job openings in this field? Are they advertised? If so, where?
- When should I start applying for positions and forwarding my resume?
- How is a typical job interview in this industry conducted?
- Is there anyone else in this field you would recommend I talk to? When I call them, may I mention that you referred me?