The MBA program at SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business presents unique opportunities for students to interact with renowned professors, eminent business professionals, guest speakers for various events, and the vast alumni network. It is constantly enriching to talk to people more experienced than us and take career guidance from them. The Mentors in Business program is designed explicitly to help students get trained by a Mentor to help them excel in their careers.
Mentorship is a two-way process. As much as we need an experienced, approachable & supportive mentor, the mentee needs to be proactive and diligent. One of the most common questions that every MBA student ponders is “how to be an effective mentee?” Since the start of my professional career eight years back and my MBA journey ~1 yr ago, I have been under consistent mentorship, be it my bosses, professors, industry experts, prominent speakers, or seniors in life. From my experience, I have compiled a list of tips for one to optimize the mentorship experience:
1. Set Realistic Goals
The first rule for any mentee is to decide what they want to gain from the mentor. For this, it is essential to set realistic goals. An example would be: “As an MBA student, what do you want to achieve in the next six months.” Goals can be both short-term & long-term. Before entering the mentorship program/relationship, it is advisable to communicate your goals to the mentor. This will help the mentor to guide you properly and self-evaluate as to whether they can mentor you on your goals or not.
2. Establish Open Communication Channels
There should be a proper two-way communication channel set between the parties involved. Mentees should discuss their ideas, challenge mentors’ opinions and take constructive feedback for their work, strengthening the relationship.
3. Be Prepared for Meetings
Mentees should have a clear agenda set before every meeting. A good practice will be to communicate the agenda, questions, and topic of discussion in advance to their mentors to give them time to prepare.
4. Set Boundaries
We should decide our limits in terms of the number of meetings, communication mode, and frequency of communications with our mentors. It is important to understand that a mentor’s time is limited and should be utilized judiciously.
5. Be Proactive
One should be prompt in all meetings and be proactive in replying to all emails, texts, or questions of their mentors.
6. Ask Questions
Students are often scared of asking questions as they think it might sound silly and would hurt their impression in front of others. I believe that no questions are stupid, and curiosity is the biggest teacher. The mentorship platform should be used wisely to clear all doubts and inhibitions that exist.
7. Listen carefully
Listening is one of the most critical yet challenging skills to adopt. I would encourage students to listen very carefully when their mentors speak and take notes of all essential points.
8. Incorporate feedback
Constructive feedback is the key to success. Always incorporate any feedback offered by a mentor. A proactive mentee should ideally ask for feedback after every session.
9. Express Gratitude
Towards the end of the meeting, one should express their gratitude towards the mentor by highlighting their key takeaways from the discussion and how it will benefit them in their learning process.
10. Keep In Touch
One of the biggest mistakes that students commit is losing contact with their mentor once the program is over. I believe that mentorship is a life-long process. Hence, we should regularly keep in touch with our past and present mentors.
About the Author
Aparajita is a full-time MBA candidate at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business. Born and raised in India, she has ~7 years of professional experience in Investment Banking, Equity Research and Trading Floor. As a student ambassador at SFU, she is looking forward to writing blogs highlighting her unique experiences and learning throughout the MBA Program. She is a team player, collaborative, friendly, and approachable person. She is enjoying her stay at SFU’s Downtown student accommodation and loves to bike around and explore Vancouver.