Questions for your Mentor

Published on September 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Now that you’ve snagged a coffee with a mentor, a little preparation will go a long way. Plus frankly, a prepared list of issues and questions is well, rather impressive!

Here’s my personal inventory. I’ve collected these through the years. Hand pick the ones that work for you.

Warm-up and Rapport Questions

  • How did you get your start?
  • Did you have a mentor?
  • What character strengths account for your success?
  • What’s a tough issue you’ve had to overcome and how did you do it?
  • With the the benefit of hind-sight, what would you do differently?

Questions to Help Prepare for a Career in this Field

  • How can I best prepare to working in your industry?
  • What skills, talents, and personal qualities are most essential?
  • What kinds of internships would you recommend?
  • How rapidly is the industry growing? What do you foresee?
  • What entry-level opportunities offer the best potential for growth?
  • How do people find out about jobs in this field?
  • How are they advertised, or is word of mouth more important?
  • Which professional organizations would help me learn more?
  • How well suited is my background for this type of work?
  • What other fields do you suggest I research?

Questions about a Particular Organization/Company

  • Why did you decide to work here and what do you like most?
  • What personal and professional traits have served you well here?
  • How does your Company distinguish itself from the competition?
  • Tell me the type of employee that is a good fit here?
  • What do your hiring mangers look for in candidates?

Referral to Others

  • Based on our conversation today, what other people do you believe I should talk to?
  • Can you give me names of a few who might be willing to see me?
  • May I use your name when I contact them?

Two of my favorite mentors:

My dad, Manny Garcia and Penn, guest professor, George Vailliant, MD

Growing up, Dad bombarded me with lectures, pontifications, and endless aphorisms such as:
“This too will pass”
“Never, never, never give up”
“When you walk through a storm keep your head up high”
“Do it like you mean it”
“Get over it”
“You are going to have to grow up quickly”

George was my favorite profession at the University of Pennsylvania. He inspired me to think broadly and to both nurture and tame my gift of empathy for others. He is who I want to be when I grow up!

Those are mine… Who are yours? Send photos!


This post was written by Lisa Jacobson

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