Tips For Mentees

In order for a mentoring relationship to be collaborative and reciprocal, it is important that both the mentor and mentee have clear expectations of their roles.
Characteristics of an Effective Mentee
A mentee is typically someone who wishes to gain insight and access to new skills and knowledge through a mentor's example, guidance and support1. Mentee’s are responsible for continually reflecting on their mentoring needs to ensure they are seeking the appropriate individual to guide them in a particular skill or interest2. The mentee should do their research and familiarize themselves with available mentors before making a decision3,4.
It is important for mentees to acknowledge that they are active participants in the mentoring relationship5.Mentees must do the personal preparation required to be explicit in their expectations of the mentoring relationship and the skills they wish to attain in order to fully utilize the strengths of the mentor. It is also important for mentees to be active listeners and to be receptive to the advice and feedback provided by the mentor6,7.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Mentee:2,8,9

  • Be aware of the personal and professional qualities they value in a mentor
  • Accept personal responsibility for their own career development
  • Maintain confidentiality about shared information
  • Commit time and energy to the mentor/mentee relationship
  • Set meeting agendas
  • Be open to suggestions, advice, feedback
  • Set goals and timetables for completion of projects, attainment of milestones and invite reflections on progress towards them
  • Listen and ask questions
  • Be open about thoughts and feelings, provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t
  • Undertake honest self-assessment regularly
  • Share mistakes and perceived areas for improvement
  • Identify barriers to goal achievement and provide potential solutions
  • Contribute to a collegial and productive relationship

Below is a checklist by Zerzan et al. to guide a mentee’s actions during a mentoring relationship

Checklist for Mentees to “Manage Up” to Create Successful Mentoring Relationships

Getting ready
☐ Clarify your values
☐ Identify your work style and habits
☐ Identify knowledge and skill gaps
   ● Personal
   ● Professional development
   ● Skill development
   ● Academic guidance
   ● Research
☐ List specific opportunities sought — e.g. grant writing, presentation
☐ Write down goals: 3 months, 1 year, 5 year

Finding a mentor
☐ Meet with people you know
☐ Get recommendations
☐ Ask people you meet with who else they recommend
☐ Be persistent
☐ Find multiple mentors, both junior and senior people

Things to look for in a mentor
☐ Is available and accessible
☐ Provides opportunities and encourages mentee to take risks
☐ Helps mentee develop own agenda
☐ Has prior mentoring experience
The first meeting
☐ Tell your mentor how he or she has already helped you
☐ Share your background, values, and needs
☐ Send a thank-you note after the meeting
Cultivating the mentor–mentee relationship
☐ Agree on structure and objectives of relationship
☐ Plan and set the meeting agendas
☐ Ask questions
☐ Actively listen
☐ Follow through on assigned tasks
☐ Ask for feedback
☐ Manage up
   ● Set goals and expectations
   ● Be responsive and flexible
   ● Direct the flow of information
   ● Follow a regular meeting schedule with agenda
☐ Talk about when the relationship should end
☐ Talk with your mentor about next steps
☐ Talk about future mentors

Click here to download a copy of the checklist.


  1. Mentoring | Learning and Development | Memorial University of Newfoundland. Available at: (Accessed: 26th August 2019)
  2. Jackson, V. A. et al. ‘“Having the Right Chemistry”’: A Qualitative Study of Mentoring in Academic Medicine. Acad. Med. 78, 328–334 (2003).
  3. Sanfey, H., Hollands, C. & Gantt, N. L. Strategies for building an effective mentoring relationship. Am. J. Surg.206, 714–718 (2013).
  4. Kim, C. C. et al. A model in dermatology for long-distance mentoring. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 68, 860–862 (2013).
  5. Zerzan, J. T., Hess, R., Schur, E., Phillips, R. S. & Rigotti, N. Making the most of mentors: A guide for mentees. Acad. Med. 84, 140–144 (2009).
  6. White, H. K., Buhr, G. T. & Pinheiro, S. O. Mentoring: A key strategy to prepare the next generation of physicians to care for an aging america: Education and training. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 57, 1270–1277 (2009).
  7. Straus, S. E., Johnson, M. O., Marquez, C. & Feldman, M. D. Characteristics of successful and failed mentoring relationships: A qualitative study across two academic health centers. Acad. Med. 88, 82–89 (2013).
  8. Department of Medicine Mentoring Program | Department of Medicine. Available at: (Accessed: 18th October 2019)
  9. Mentoring and Role-Modeling | Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Available at: (Accessed: 27th August 2019)