How to make the most of your THRIVE mentoring experience

Plan your THRIVE mentoring experience

Read time: 4 minutes

It’s approaching that time of year when all the students signed up to THRIVE complete their training and get in contact with their mentors for the first time. It is a fantastic opportunity to stride forward towards your future and an incredible career journey. Your mentor will be there to offer you a range of advice, build your contact network and offer you tangible experiences to give you the edge in the job market.

Before you begin, however, it is important to establish in your mind and the mind of your mentor what goals you would like to achieve for the year ahead. Doing this will give your discussions structure and purpose as well as allow you to measure your experience.

What would you like your mentor to help you achieve? Here are some suggestions which cover a host of elements necessary to moving towards your ideal career:

  • Would you like to learn more about an industry and the opportunities available to you?
  • Do you need help creating your CV and getting through the application process?
  • Are you looking to build your professional network?
  • Do you want to improve your interpersonal skills and getting used to talking to individuals in a professional environment?
  • Are you working towards sourcing a placement or work experience?

It is important to be reasonable when setting your goals. If you don’t have a very good idea of what it is you want to do, it may be important to simply set yourself the target of discovering more about an industry/role. Of course, once you have achieved this, you can then update your goals and move forward on to the next challenge with your mentor.

Here at THRIVE we use the SMART structure to evaluate how effective your goals may be. Incorporating this structure will help you think more clearly about whether or not your goals are achievable and ultimately how to find success as defined by you.

Here is what the SMART structure consists of:

Specific: who, what, when, where.

Measurable: How will you measure the progress of your goal?

Achievable: Don’t over-estimate the goal that you are setting

Relevant: Is this a part of a long-term goal and how does this add to you achieving that?

Time-oriented: Create a time frame which is realistic for you to achieve your goal within.

Using the SMART structure we can now develop a goal for the year ahead. Say you choose the target of creating a network of 5 contacts through your mentor that you will keep in contact with after the end of the academic year.

This goal is Specific as it tells you ‘what’ it is and ‘when’ you can achieve it by. The ‘who’ will become more evident as you progress as will the ‘where’ (these could be contacts in your mentor’s organisation or elsewhere). Once you have laid the groundwork it will become much easier to establish all of these facts.

It is Measurable. You have a goal of 5 contacts, and you want to secure it by the end of the academic year which is when your participation in the THRIVE Scheme ends.

It is Achievable. 5 is a respectable but obtainable number of people to meet and stay in contact with. It would not be feasible to get the personal number of everybody working in the City of London. A trip to your mentor’s workplace serves as the perfect opportunity to meet some colleagues and gain some contact details to start creating correspondences.

It is Relevant. Contacts will be important to any and every job so it will always be useful to any future target to be well connected. But, it is critical that you evaluate throughout the year whether or not your targets are genuinely worth your time and energy and are helping you work towards your greater career aspirations.

And, as noted, it is Time-oriented.

This example serves as a perfect long-term goal, something that can only be achieved over an extended period of time. You can also maximise the mentoring experience by embedding a series of more short-term goals throughout the year.

An example of a short-term goal could be to have at least one face-to-face meeting before you go home for Christmas. It can be a daunting experience setting up a more professional meeting but this is an essential skill for the future that will undoubtedly give you the edge in the grad job market.

Reveal your goals to your mentor; this will help orientate your relationship in the right direction and better manage your expectations. It would not be effective to list out in detail a series of goals in your first meeting, instead, to begin with, be general and work together at an increasing but comfortable pace.

For every discussion you have, you may find it useful to summarise what you have covered, whether or not you have met your goal and set the objectives for your next discussion. You can then set to work preparing yourself for these objectives throughout the month. Then, when you set up your next meeting you can briefly remind your mentor about the goals you hope to reach and set yourselves to working towards these.

Setting out a clear plan allows you to be prepared but will also give your mentor time to prepare and offer the most effective knowledge and resources available to them. The time you spend one on one with your mentor is an incredibly valuable asset, don’t waste it!

Best of luck and we look forward to seeing you at our Meet and Greet sessions in November and December!