Having experienced being a mentee for over 25 years now, I have reaped the benefits from the full spectrum of mentors – from empowering to crippling. I can confidently say my experiences as a mentee have helped shape not only who I am today, but also how I have payed forward as a mentor of K-graduate students and of those who mentor students.
Through my experiences on both sides of mentorship – mentee and mentor – I can confidently say that the most valuable element of an effective mentor has more to do with the mentor’s genuine mindset – the core of where they are coming from and their perceived purpose as a mentor. It is that mindset that subsequently shapes the mentors actions, which defines their effectiveness as a mentor.
We can talk all we want about what actions make a good mentor – there are thousands of resources on this. But absent of the mentor’s mindset to genuinely serve the mentee and their ability to set aside their own agenda, the mentorship is destined to be, at best, ineffective.
Effective mentors are genuine, they serve with purpose, and their actions follow suit. Effective mentors’ actions originate from this genuine mindset to serve the mentee and include:
- Asking thoughtful questions that challenge the mentee the critically think about answering themselves,
- Sharing their experiences and insights that the mentee can then draw their own conclusions from, and
- Advocating for the mentee when asked.
It is common for effective mentors to not have – nor do they offer – all of the “right” answers. Instead, they appreciate the value of diverse experiential filters that allow us to approach solutions from different angles. They inspire and empower their mentees to tap into their own experiences and to struggle to answer their own questions. Effective mentorship leads to innovative solutions.
Through Science Fair Fun, we inspire and empower students to innovate and we create effective mentors all around the student.