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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

5.5 The successful mentee

The mentee also has a very important responsibility in this relationship. The time a mentor spends in discussions and in furthering the mentee's interests needs to be repaid through commensurate effort on the part of the mentee. Some important characteristics of successful mentees include:

  • Keen to learn, explore ideas, and seek guidance/feedback
  • Willingness to explore areas of vulnerability and reflect on learning to date
  • Responsibility for identifying, reviewing, and weighing options
  • Desire to experiment, trial new processes and procedures, and to be adventurous
  • Willingness to move into new areas of development if identified as desirable
  • Willingness to give and receive honest feedback and to act on that advice, or duly reflect on it
  • Strong commitment to self development and career goals, particularly in reviewing advice provided
  • Honest, courteous, and respectful of the mentor's knowledge, skills, and reputation
  • Willingness to communicate needs and expectations
  • Willingness to listen, communicate, and share ideas without prejudice.

To benefit from a mentoring relationship, mentees can greatly assist by:

  • Researching the mentor's strengths, knowledge, and potential contributions
  • Clarifying the role to be played by the mentor and mentee
  • Prioritising building a successful track record using the advice provided
  • Recognising and acknowledging the mentor's contribution
  • Taking the initiative in arranging meetings and other opportunities
  • Attending meetings promptly
  • Coming prepared for meetings
  • Using the mentor's time effectively
  • Always preparing materials and revisions and forwarding to the mentor ahead of time
  • Identifying questions to be asked ahead of time
  • Taking feedback graciously and build from it
  • Capitalising on networking opportunities and the new professional networks/relationships which have been facilitated
  • Taking responsibility for making contacts, maintaining contacts, and meeting commitments
  • Considering how the mentor may gain from the contribution and relationship and seeking opportunities to enable those outcomes.
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