The initial conversation between you and your mentoring partner sets the tone for the relationship. This is when you first get to know each other apart from job titles and descriptions. The focus is on who you are as individuals and what you each bring to the relationship (your history, context, culture, uniqueness, etc). 

  • Talk about your past mentoring experiences and discuss what worked for you and what didn’t.
  • If you are a mentee, you will want to talk about your career vision and what you want to learn.
  • If you are a mentor, you will be asking questions so that you are clear about the mentee’s development goal and how they align your mentee’s vision of the future.
  • Each of you needs to communicate your own individual desires, needs and expectations from the relationship.
  • Together you need to explore the assumptions that you hold about each other’s roles and about the mentoring relationship.
  • Talk about what each of you is willing and ready to contribute to the relationship. 
  • A frank discussion about your personal and learning styles will help you anticipate their impact on the relationship and determine the kind of support and learning opportunities that will best facilitate the learning process.

For step-by-step guidelines on what to do, how to do it and questions to think about to get started on the right foot, see  Initial Mentoring Conversation.