Information for Mentors
Do you remember what it was like to start your first job out of University? The challenges, the highlights and the lessons learned since then? Now’s your chance to share this knowledge! Help students prepare for their career - be a career mentor.
Mentoring is a learning relationship between individuals focusing on the mentee's development and goals. As someone who has 'been there before', you will be able to assist current students in developing the confidence, knowledge and skills required to make a successful transition into industry. Career mentoring can result in increased knowledge of organisations, the job market, confidence and lifelong career management skills.
The programs that you can get involved in vary:
- Our flagship program, Career Access, runs over approximately two months and focuses on a student's professional development journey
- The A Coffee With... program takes place over just an hour, and is a less formal opportunity to knowledge-share
Participation is based on both your availability and student demand. To express interest in mentoring, simply:
We welcome expressions of interest from all industry professionals, of all experience areas, levels and personal backgrounds. You can be based in Adelaide, interstate or overseas. You do not have to be an alumni of the University to be involved.
We work on a student demand basis, so participation is subject to a suitable student match.
- What are the participation requirements?
The time commitment depends on which program you are involved in. Please note that all of our programs are conducted in a volunteer capacity.
Mentors in the Career Access program:
- program induction
- a minimum of four (4) 1-hour meetings over an approximate two month period with the mentee group
- program feedback and evaluation
Mentors in the A Coffee With program:
- program introduction
- a 1 to 1.5-hour meeting with your mentee
- feedback and evaluation
Beyond these requirements, it is up to mentors to offer additional meetings, individual support or access other professional development activities if they feel it would be beneficial.
- What are the benefits of mentoring?
Mentors benefit through:
- personal satisfaction from helping and watching someone grow and develop,
- enhancing leadership and communication skills,
- demonstrating coaching and personal development abilities,
- giving back to their profession and community,
- networking with other mentors and future professionals,
- the opportunity to reflect on their own career/ personal aspirations and
- being recognised and appreciated for their skills.
Organisations can benefit through:
- increased visibility on campus,
- contribution to the development of emerging professionals,
- identify future talent for your organisation,
- up to date information on educational trends and university student culture, and
- professional development opportunities for participating employees.
- What are the responsibilities of mentors?
As a mentee-driven program, students will be asked to prepare for each meeting, set meeting objectives and provide progress reports where required.
Your role will be to facilitate the development of your mentees by acting as a resource, advisor or coach based on their needs. This may include assisting mentees to determine their career goals, helping them to realise their unique strengths and weaknesses and sharing insights about your role, industry or work experience. In Career Access Mentoring program, you will be able to help the student over a longer period of time. Our Coffee With... program by contrast, is a much more condensed knowledge-gathering activity.
- Who do I mentor?
Students who have completed one semester of first year courses may apply for the mentoring program. Matches will be based on shared academic background, career or work experience and objectives for the mentoring relationship.
In the Career Access Mentoring program, mentors will typically - but not always - be matched with 2 students in a group mentoring capacity. Group mentoring:
- provides a forum for prospective mentees who might otherwise be initially uncomfortable with the level of intimacy in 1:1 mentoring,
- mentors can use peer-to-peer relationships to empower mentees and influence them positively,
- enables learning from the experiences of others and benefiting from different perspectives,
- allows mentees to focus on professional relationships skills development,
- mentors develop leadership skills and effective communication, negotiation skills and people management.
- What is expected at meetings?
The structure of the meetings will vary according to each participants' needs. Mentees will prepare discussion topics and activities to assist in progressing toward their goals. Mentees will be asked to prepare specific questions for each meeting and provide them to the mentor before the meeting.
Face-to-face meetings are fundamental to the mentoring relationship. They should take place in a public or professional location such as a local coffee shop, meeting venue or University campus that is mutually convenient or accessible for the mentor. We recommend that one meeting be held in the mentor’s workplace to showcase a professional working environment if they are based in the Adelaide region. For mentors based regionally, interstate or internationally, all meetings may be conducted over Skype or other video conferencing technology.
- What support will I receive?
Careers Service staff are available to assist you with questions, guidance and referrals throughout the program. Qualified Careers Advisers and academic coordinators will be available for student support. All participants will be briefed and receive a guide at the commencement of the program with tips for the mentoring relationship, interpersonal skills development and communication techniques.
- Frequently Asked Questions
What skills do I need as a mentor?
The mentoring relationship requires effective rapport between individuals. Mentors should exhibit the following skills and characteristics, particularly in the Career Access Program. If you're unsure whether or not you can mentor, why not give it a go with the A Coffee With... program?
- strong communication skills,
- ability to generate trust,
- a willingness to invest time and effort into the mentoring relationship and their mentees' development,
- patience and tolerance,
- ability to recognise and encourage the mentee's unique potential,
- handle conflict effectively,
- values their organisation and their work and
- has a desire to share information and act as a resource.
Is there a cost to participate?
There are no fees associated with this program. Mentors and mentees are volunteers. You may incur incidental costs such as travel to and from meetings, coffee, etc. Please note that costs cannot be reimbursed by the university.
Can I still participate if I live outside of Adelaide?
Yes - mentors from all over the world are welcome in this program. If you are based outside of the Adelaide region or have difficulty travelling to meet mentees, you can use video technologies such as Skype or Google Chat for meetings.
I am away for 1-2 months during the Career Access program. Can I still participate?
If you are able to commit to at least four meetings over two months, we would love to have you involved. We ask that you simply notify staff and mentees of your absence in advance.
What will I discuss with mentees?
It is up to the group to negotiate and set topics. The program is intended to increase students' career readiness and transition into the workplace, so students may seek guidance and perspective on topics such as:
- finding job opportunities in the industry - for example job hunting strategies, the hidden job market, resume requisites or standing out as a candidate,
- networking and interview skills,
- workplace insights - e.g. culture, professional conduct, how different business areas and roles rely on each other for business success, conflict resolution skills, task motivations and mindset,
- industry trends and issues,
- self-awareness and career values.
It is also important to engage in the formal aspects of mentoring so that progress is recognised. Your first meeting should start with a discussion about establishing the relationship's boundaries, group expectations and goals for the program. At the following meetings, you may need to initiate discussion about the progress of these goals and provide individual feedback or prompts for action.
Do I need to provide work experience?
No. The mentoring program is intended to assist students with their career development rather than job training. Work experience or employment may result from the mentoring relationship, but this is not a requirement for the program and students will be made aware of this.
What happens at the end of the program?
Any relationship requires closure. At your final meeting, we recommend that you discuss how and in what capacity your relationship may continue - for example, in a mentoring capacity or as professional contacts. It is up to you to decide and set this boundary.
Mentors and mentees are both asked to evaluate the program, to ensure its ongoing effectiveness. Plus, we like to hear what you got out of the experience!