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Now That I’ve Got a Mentor, What Should We Talk About? [Webinar Recap]

Editor’s Note: On August 28th,  Bryant & Stratton College Online hosted a webinar titled “Are You My Mentory? How to Find and Work with a Mentor” Led by acclaimed career coach and frequent BSC Online presenter Kim Dority, the presentation highlighted advice and guidance for students and professionals looking to find a mentor. Below are a few of Kim’s key takeaways from the webinar.

Click below to watch the recorded event.

A mentor can be a terrific career resource, but it will be up to you to help your mentor help you. Your job will be to come up with questions that are meaningful to your career goals, but also ones that provide your mentor an opportunity to respond with thoughtful, in-depth counsel.

Where to begin? The following list of potential questions will help you get started, and give you an idea of what categories of questions might be useful to explore.

Questions about Your Mentor’s Own Career Path

  • Why did you choose the career path you followed?
  • What do you like most/least about the work you do?
  • Who has influenced you the most over your career?
  • If given the opportunity, are there any things you would have done differently in your career?
  • In terms of your career success, what do you feel were your most important decisions?

Questions about Professional Development

  • What thought leaders, blogs, newsletters, etc. do you read or monitor to stay current in the profession?
  • Are there any books you would recommend I read for professional insights?
  • What advice do you have for balancing work and life commitments?
  • What is your process for making important work-related decisions?
  • Where do you think the future opportunities in [your mutual profession] will lie?

Questions about Career Development

  • What skills do you feel are most important to a successful career as a [the profession you’re targeting]?
  • What have you found to be most effective in reaching your own career goals?
  • Over the course of your career, have you experienced any setbacks, and how did you handle them?
  • What actions have you found to be most important and/or effective for building your professional network?
  • What are the top three things you would recommend someone do in order to build a successful career?

Questions about Specific Career Decisions

  • The following are examples of the types of questions you might ask that relate to specific issues you’re dealing with at work:
  • How would you approach deciding between two job offers?
  • I really blew a presentation and it’s shaken my self-confidence; could you help me learn how to recover from setbacks?
  • I’m a cataloger and would like to become a department manager; can you help me chart out a plan for learning more about management and practicing those skills in a “safe” environment?
  • I’ve been struggling with my relationships with co-workers; can you give me some feedback on 1) what I’m doing wrong, and 2) how I can learn better people skills, then practice some typical co-worker interactions with me?

More tactical in nature, the questions based on your personal circumstances will be focused on achieving a more immediate goal, whereas the professional- and career-development questions will be broader in nature and help you focus on long-term as well as short-term career strategies. Both types are likely to come up over the course of your mentoring relationship; in fact, as you move forward, you’ll probably think of lots more questions.

The key thing to remember is that if you’ve picked the right mentor, you’re in a safe environment – there are no dumb questions!


About the Author:

Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.

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