When you participate in E², you will meet many people. Interacting with people and developing relationships is a skill - these "soft skills" are important for both academic and career success. E² compiled a few suggestions* to help you begin developing your soft skills:
- Welcome the mentoring connection. Introduce yourself to people and communicate your appreciation to them for what they are doing or how they are assisting you.
- Prepare for mentor meetings. Do the appropriate "homework" for meetings with your mentor. If you previously set tasks, make sure the tasks are done prior to meeting with your mentor. If you don't have set tasks, create an agenda for what you want to accomplish during the meeting with your mentor. Always have a goal for the meeting and leave the meeting knowing your next steps/tasks.
- Take initiative. Seek your mentor's advice and ask questions; don't wait for your mentor to figure out how to help you. Your mentor is there to help you navigate the path towards your goals. If your mentor doesn't know, the mentor can help you research and find the answer.
- Discuss your needs and objectives with your mentor. Identify areas that you think you would like to develop (e.g., interviewing skills, resume writing, communication skills, negotiation strategies, etc.) and share your goals with your mentor.
- Take responsibility for your career and academic goals. Be accountable and proactive with your personal life and academic success. Find solutions to problems instead of merely identifying issues and present your solutions to someone who can help you implement them.
- Be able to receive feedback. Most people offer suggestions to help you improve. Feedback is intended to help you identify areas that need to be developed so that you can be successful. If you can look at the situation from your mentor's perspective, you will gain a more objective viewpoint and implement strategies that will help you accomplish your goals.
- Be willing to try new things. By listening to new ideas and engaging in activities that are unfamiliar to you, you will be exposed to the many different ways to be successful. There isn't necessarily one perfect way of "getting from here to there." Explore options and be willing to change directions if a better path is available.
- Periodically assess the progress of the relationship. Communicating with your mentor is a two-way partnership; both you and your mentor must be honest with each other for the mentoring to be successful. If something isn't working, know when priorities need to be reset and tell your mentor.
*Information developed from: http://www.uscg.mil/leadership/courses/all_mentoring.asp