Why would I want a mentor?

What is mentoring? Is it for you? This article explores what mentees can expect from a mentoring relationship.

The word mentor is defined as a trusted friend and role model. If you have recently been matched with a mentor or are looking to find one, it is important to think about what you want to get out of the relationship. Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and frustration for you and your mentor. So, what can you expect?

  • Mentors shouldn’t take on the role of a parent, teacher, counselor or any other adult. A mentor is there to be a friend you can trust. Like any friendship, it will take time to get to know and trust each other. Don’t expect your mentor to be your new best friend overnight.
  • You can’t expect your mentor to do all the work. For a relationship to work, both people have to contribute. Share your ideas for things you would like to do and help keep the conversation going.
  • Your mentor should keep your conversations confidential unless they are concerned about your safety or the safety of others. If concerned, your mentor will need to tell your parent(s), guardian, the mentoring program staff or the police depending on the situation.
  • Every mentoring program has different goals; ask about the goals for your program. If your program is focused on academics, your mentor might be able to assist with school work. Other programs may focus on social skills, sports or overall support.
  • Your mentor can’t read your mind. It is important for you to share your opinion and help plan your activities.
  • Mentors are not perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. If you are ever disappointed or unhappy in the relationship, tell your mentor or the mentor program staff right away. Little problems can usually be taken care of quickly.
  • Having a mentor is fun! As you get to know your mentor, you will develop a friendship and likely share many laughs and create great memories.

If you are looking for a mentoring program near you, check out Michigan State University Extension’s tips for finding a quality mentoring program.

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