5 words of advice on how to get the most out of your mentor

Suzzane Uhland has written quite a lot about mentorship and how to be a good mentor. The most important thing regarding this topic is to really determine the true importance and value of mentoring.

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Many people, after being accompanied by different mentors throughout their professional careers, end up developing certain pleasure about becoming a mentor themselves. Throughout this process, they spend their whole careers building their own advisory group: year after year, they create a solid group of advisors—those who have helped them take a step forward or overcome any difficulty. Oftentimes, mentors act as a mere conversational partner: bouncing and discussing ideas back and forth with someone who is more experienced in that particular field is actually way richer and more rewarding than sitting through an endless lecture. Many people actually assert that this has helped them see with more clarity what they may not have understood before.

Other times, however, leaders act as those people needed to tell others in need how to proceed or to provide them with enough encouragement so that they feel compelled to keep moving forward. In short, the benefits of having a mentor at any moment are clear: they help people to be their best selves.

Nonetheless, it is important to mention that even though mentors are seen like an authorized voice in a specific field, and even though they provide mentees with enough reasons to take risks, keep moving forward and strive for what they want, at the end of the day, mentees are the ones responsible for making their own choices. Mentors are not just there to tell mentees whether they need to follow a specific direction. No. Instead, they provide the guidance needed for mentees to make up their minds and subsequently make a decision about the path they want to follow.

So, although the aforementioned description may sound a bit general, it is also important to mention that there are different types of mentors. Moreover, there are different ways to approach them and use them. Here are several words of advice on how to get the most out of a mentor:

First

A good mentor takes mentees out of their comfort zone. Period. There will always be a sheer array of individuals ready to provide such degree of comfort; however, a good mentor is the one who actually encourages their mentees to try new experiences in hopes of discovering something new about them. Many people, especially entrepreneurs, recall seeking advice with mentors who practically forced to leave their comfort zone and they ended up excelling and thriving in a different, totally unknown field.

Second

A good mentor possesses an accurate understanding of the mentee’s strengths and weaknesses: they are capable of accurately grasping the intricacies of the individuals that approach them seeking help. Mentees should always strive to improve their weaknesses. That is obvious, of course. Nonetheless, in order to that, they need to seek a mentor who will complement them instead of seeking one who is rather similar to them. Finding someone different means he or she possesses a varied and different set of skills.

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Third

Get the most out of mentors. Whenever individuals find their mentor or their main advisor they tend to relax. The sense of being accompanied often ends up being detrimental for this self-improvement process. Try not to get used to the fact that mentors are “always” available, because, sadly, they are not. That is what makes their advice so valuable.

Fourth

There will always be an imbalance between the mentor’s vision and the mentee’s vision. Actually, the mentee’s vision, due to several reasons, might differ from reality, especially the reality of the things around their concerns. This scenario suggests that mentees should be constantly working on the relationship with their mentors in order to avoid any misalignment with the mentee’s goals.

Fifth

Do not feel like it is necessary to find someone in within the same industry or within the same location. Of course, mentees should always consider looking for both men and women as their mentors. It is particularly important to find those who happen to be highly different in comparison since this way mentees will be provided with a much broader spectrum of possibilities and perspectives. Never forget: under today’s circumstances, in today’s digital juncture, it has never been more possible to build and foster a successful mentor-mentee relationship: there are plenty of communication tools—Skype being the most widely used, FaceTime and several chats that allow individuals to interact with each other.

The fourth industrial revolution brought along endless possibilities and allowed the unthinkable. As someone looking for a piece of advice irrespective of motivation, today it is possible to get past boundaries and find the perfect individual. Whether as entrepreneurs or professionals looking to improve their performance at their jobs, having a mentor nearby (and learning from them) is a highly valuable thing.

* Featured Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures at Pexels.com

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How To Start A Great Mentoring Program At Work

Starting a mentoring program is one of the most intelligent, positively impacting and long-lasting decisions you can make for your business. Mentoring initiatives are something that touches everyone in the company, and they are not directed only towards a specific demographic, but instead, they are available to all those who care about their personal and professional growth, no matter what their current position inside the organization. Mentoring also has benefits that are directly related to individual development but can also boost employee satisfaction and retention levels while at the same time making your company more attractive to prospective employees or individuals in general interested in the organization.

One of the best parts of mentoring is that instead of having to invest in external resources to be brought into the company, you are capitalizing on the assets you already have, mainly the human component of those resources.

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Creating a high-impact mentoring program may not be as difficult as you think, considering all of the benefits that a well-established initiative can bestow upon a company that takes it seriously and decides to use to properly take advantage of everything their employees have to offer. Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to talk about the things you need to consider and some of the most basic steps to get started and put together a mentoring program that will surely make a difference.

It only makes sense that the first step to take in the creation of such program would be to define the general and specific objectives of the initiative. What do you want to accomplish? Is this about better preparing your people to remain competitive in the market? Do you want to strengthen the leadership of your organization by helping senior leaders hone their skills while giving junior associates a closer look at the inner workings of leadership in action? Is this all about accomplishing better retention and having employees gain perspective or a new appreciation for their company? Do you want to introduce your people to a new skill and decide to use a mentoring program to do so? The answer to all of these questions will probably provide you with a good idea as to which concepts you must focus on while designing the program and which areas will not be so important when making decisions about putting it together.

Your target audience is very important when you are in the planning stages of the program because they dictate the needs of your design. You have to know what motivates your people, where they are in the career and what would be their logical next steps in a quest for growth. Knowing this information will allow you to come up with realistic goals that can be measured according to the participants’ performance and it can come as a huge help to leaders who participate by giving them an idea of the areas in which they can be most helpful and so that they can self-evaluate to gain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses to support the initiative. It is important to remember that a successful mentoring program will always have a strong structure but also be characterized by its flexibility. Remember that no two mentoring relationships are the same, so you must prepare for that.

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It doesn’t matter how well designed your program is, it must have an excellent marketing campaign. People in the organization must know that it exists and in the worst-case scenario, at least know what a mentoring program is. It happens quite often that companies announce a mentoring program and are met with a great deal of enthusiasm by a member of the organization, however, the turnout is low and the actual interest seem lower than expected. This happens because people may not truly understand how mentoring works and what it can do for them. It is important that a program is not simply announced, but that actual training is thrown into the mix. Participants must understand all aspects of mentoring so they can see what they are getting into, understand the positive impact that it can bring into their lives and also know how they can maximize their effort by being active participants in their own evolution.

Mentors and mentees must be paired properly and plan to do so must be made considering all approaches. Sometimes these relationships are born organically, but in some case, the organization must step in and help both sides meet based on the criteria each participant has according to what they want from the program and what they can bring to the table. This step is crucial so you must understand how it will take place. Do not let these partnerships be on their own and forget about them completely; remember the organization must be there and provide support in any way it can since the success of a mentoring program is going to be of great influence to the future of the organization.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

 

How to have a positive impact as a mentor

The job of a mentor is quite serious. It is meant to have an impact on somebody else’s life. Therefore, it better be a good impact.

If we took a minute to think about the best mentor we have ever had, we would remember some important pieces of advice, attitudes, situations and all sorts of events that would help us identify why our mentor had such a positive impact in our lives.

On the mentor’s side, having a positive impact on mentees can be quite challenging. Not because intentions are not nice. But, because becoming the example to follow or the advice-giver of someone who is trusting you its career, is rather difficult and represents a big responsibility.

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There are many different types of mentors. All of them may vary according to the type of business they work with, or the type of mentee they will guide. It can even be said that mentors come in every possible “shape and flavor”. They can come in the shape of a dear professor, a friend, family member, a parent, or a coach.

Regardless the type of mentor that you want to become or already are, there are some basic tips that you should keep in mind in order to have a positive impact on your mentees. Here, Suzzanne Uhland will share some of these tips.

Related: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

1 – You need to know what it means to be a mentor

If you are in the business world or are a lawyer and you are good at what you do, you will inevitably become a mentor. This is something that most people can’t escape of and it is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and legacy.

However, before you become a mentor you need to actually know what that means. It is not about improvising and acting according to your needs. It is actually about knowing your mentee and establishing a relationship with that person.

Being a good mentor requires you to develop communication skills as well as a working style. Nevertheless, if you really want to have a positive impact on your mentee, you need to gain their trust as their advisor.

Being a trusted advisor can mean several different things. All these things are summarized in making yourself available for your mentee whenever it needs advice and support. Giving your mentee support is what actually defines your role as a mentor.

Acknowledging your role as a mentor and knowing how to support your mentee in order to provide it with great advice and support, will help your mentee keep a great mindset. This will represent the greatest impact overall.

2 – Measure time

A mentor and mentee relationship should not last forever. It will need to last for as long as the mentee feels ready to face the challenges of the market. In terms of time, this cannot be defined properly.

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The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can be as short as one single meeting around a cup of coffee or as long as several years of preparation. It is important to keep in mind that when this kind of relationships extend in time and become long term, the mentor has the obligation of actually knowing its mentee.

The longer the mentoring process is, the more important it becomes for the mentor to know and understand the goals, personality, and learning style of its mentee. Long-term relationships regarding this matter are more fulfilling when both parties have an enriching attitude towards the other.

3 – Define your mentorship plan and expectations

Not all mentors are equal, and not all mentee will react in the same way to the same things. Having said that, if the mentor wants to have an amazing impact on its mentee, it should prepare a mentorship plan.

This plan must be based on the expectations that both parties share from the beginning. Expectations work as goals and clarify what both parties want and don’t want since the moment they start their relationship

Understanding these expectations will help you understand where your mentee is coming from when asking something from you, and vice versa.

4 – Work on your emotional intelligence

Being a mentor can be emotionally challenging. There might be situations in which you want to give up, react poorly, and stop your job right there. This is why emotional intelligence plays such an important role in the job of any mentor.

By becoming a mentor, you will get the chance to know they very special personality of your mentee. You will have to deal with its needs and the previous experiences that have shaped your mentees personality. Knowing all this and using this information in the best interest of yourself and the mentee will make a huge difference.

Keeping all these tips in mind will help become a good mentor and have a positive impact on your mentee.

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Mentoring: The best Human Resources Management tool

Today, more than management of human resources, the issue under discussion is the management of people. People are actually the most important asset in companies because they are carriers of knowledge; transferable, interchangeable, and regenerative knowledge. Moreover, knowledge is the second most valuable resource on the scale of priorities, and, for this reason, CEOs around the world are looking for ways to care for and generate it more quickly. The way it is transferred and how it is shared is key to respond to the increasingly complex problems which happen so quickly.

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Well, the bridge that one of those two great asses, people and knowledge is learning. Learning is the most important tool for companies in this regard, and has its origin in interpersonal connection: Something that someone knows is connected with a new situation that another person must solve. In this way, what someone knows is connected with what others know, and so new knowledge is produced. In this sense, companies need to look for systems or tools that enhance that connection, sociability, contacts between people that lead to the creation of new ideas, new opportunities, and new businesses. That is where mentoring becomes relevant.

Mentoring is one of those new forms of learning (a knowledge management tool) that has become a necessity for companies. What is it? We could define it as a learning and development practice of people in organizations, consisting of learning from the experience of others (mentors,) who also help their mentees to develop their potential and relate within and outside the organizational environment with other people who may be relevant to their career. Mentors are people with a consolidated and well-positioned trajectory within and outside the company who share and transmit their business and organizational culture experience to a mentee, so that the development of his or her potential takes place, and, therefore the learning within the company becomes much faster and effective.

Read also: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart, by Suzzanne Uhland

Mentors act as role models, as learning guides, as transmitters of knowledge. They challenge their minds to take on new goals to increase their level of skills. They help them to reflect, and question what has always been done, how it has been done, or why it has been done in a certain way, always looking for new ways of doing things to arrive at new solutions, and, consequently, new opportunities. Mentors are connectors: They relate to their minds outside and within the organization, providing them with valuable relationships and showing them how to build a network of contacts.

Mentoring is a social process, arising from the interaction between people, from questions to active listening. Its main purpose is to generate ideas through powerful questions, questions that produce reflection, questions that draw people from their comfort zone and make them move forward looking for new ways, seeing things from another perspective. This is, in a nutshell, that someone who works day by day in a company can seek advice from others who have been in similar situations to meet their professional challenges. This type of learning is enhanced through meetings between mentors and mentees in which career objectives are established within the company, thanks to dialogue and discussion on problems and situations that occur in daily work, and plans of action are drawn to achieve objectives.

In these sessions between mentor and mentee, you learn through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, points of view, and experiences through advice. Instead of inviting experts from outside the company to train your employees, when it comes to mentoring, knowledge is provided based on the difficulties they have faced and have had to resolve within the organization. People have greater confidence in the advice of someone in the same situation, and therefore, are more receptive to them. In addition, peer conversations can provide both emotional and practical support, and favor interactive thinking, which consists in reasoning with others, developing interpersonal reasoning. It is about reflecting in common, putting oneself in the other’s place and seeing things from different perspectives and categories of thought.

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Because mentoring is essentially a social process, it has a very important cooperative base. We all know it: Cooperation generates a positive energy within the organization, which develops personal capacities beyond normal limits, and increases the performance of the entire organization. Cooperation is encouraged through dialogue, allowing doubts, questioning, and confrontation between the different members of the organization.

Designing mentoring strategies within the company enhances the capacity for internal learning and prepares companies to respond in a more agile and innovative way to the new challenges and changes of the market. If mentoring is built on a proper fostering of diversity, the organization will enable the creation of a much more extensive, diverse, and effective learning base, which will lead to greater competitiveness. A company cannot advance solely on the basis of external and technical training: It must also learn to internalize knowledge, skills, and attitudes through shared learning processes such as mentoring.

Recommended: Mentoring and Human Resources: A Perfect Match

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Why Mentors Are Crucial For Entrepreneurs

As Suzzanne Uhland has previously asserted: it takes a lot to thrive and succeed as an entrepreneur. Startups, and by extension entrepreneurs, are constantly looking for new ways to achieve their goals, thusly breaking all the rules and making a myriad of mistakes in an effort to drive their businesses forward. Thus, and as previously mentioned in this blog, seizing the help of a mentor stands out as something invaluable.

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Launching a startup and becoming a great, inspiring and successful entrepreneur is a journey full of advantages and disadvantages: as aspiring business and company-developers, entrepreneurs always happen to find themselves in situations where the most common feeling is highly related to disorientation and not knowing what to do; however they do understand the importance of always staying in motion pushing towards their goals making decisions irrespective of the possible outcome.

Without someone pointing them in the right direction—or a mentor, so to speak—, entrepreneurs often end up making terrible mistakes, especially during the early stages after launching their businesses. These circumstances suggest that the smaller the business, the faster they need to keep moving regardless of the challenges that lie ahead.

Talking about challenges, it is undeniable that the journey of becoming an entrepreneur is full of them, and that should be taken for granted. Thus, having good mentors and someone to reach out to for advice becomes no less than essential. A good mentor’s words and advice will help entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts to take action within imperfect circumstances—if there is such a thing as perfect circumstances, though—, because they not only provide a different point of view but also can give extra confidence to keep moving forward without doubts and hesitation. In short: they help entrepreneurs execute rapidly on time delicate and sensitive decisions in an attempt to keep moving towards the main goal.

The journey of succeeding as an entrepreneur is also a journey of gathering a myriad of information—thinking pragmatically of the long-term—. Getting all the data needed to keep moving forward in order to make the best decisions is something that, although can be done without reaching out for help, is something best done by seeking a mentor for help and advice before recklessly making those decisions. Bear in mind that mentors are individuals who have likely already been through the exact same, or similar, situation, therefore, their help is invaluable.

As formerly mentioned by LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, the essence of today’s entrepreneurial journey and the challenges often under its scope can perfectly be described by a simple metaphor: startups, and the decision to become an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff and assembling an aircraft on the way down. Thus, entrepreneurs cannot simply assume they have all the tools to assemble the aircraft alone, all by themselves, which is why mentors embody a great source of information and advice.

What makes a good mentor stand out? Well, there are certainly different aspects and characteristics. Here are two of them:

A good mentor possesses high-level expertise

A good mentor is someone who possesses a valuable set of skills and expertise, often in the same skills entrepreneurs lack. This demands a lot of self-awareness from the side of startup enthusiasts, for big names and titles do not always mean an individual will serve a good purpose as a mentor. Industry veterans are not systematically the perfect match, rather, entrepreneurs should set out identify those individuals who underwent really tough situations that demanded actual work and tons of hustle. Do not just pay attention to fancy names, look for the skills that are needed to pursue the dream.

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Mentors often highlight the importance of making a long-term oriented partnership in order to maintain momentum throughout the stages of the process, especially the early stages. There is an undeniable difference in pace between already well-established businesses and smaller companies. This means that smaller businesses need to move faster to ensure they reach a conclusion.

A good mentor is someone who succeeded as an entrepreneur

This is quite obvious, yet often disregarded by today’s entrepreneurs. And although it may sound a bit biased, it is undeniable that there are mentors who have been—or still are—entrepreneurs. Success is something that can be measured in a plethora of different ways, but real mentors have likely walked in the exact same shoes and taken the same steps than today’s entrepreneurs. In order to determine whether a mentor is a good fit, it is quite good to assess whether entrepreneurs see themselves succeeding just like their mentor has. It is much easier just to follow an advice that comes from someone who has made a name for himself by doing something similar—they kind of stand out as the living proof that legitimizes all the efforts that are needed to achieve whatever entrepreneurs want to achieve.

* Featured Image courtesy of Startup Stock Photos at Pexels.com

Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

Mentoring relationships come in all shapes in sizes, like we have discussed before here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, and that means that while no two mentorships are alike there are some common factors they share in order to be successful. With that being said, it is important to also understand that not all mentoring relationships are as successful as others and that there are mentors who truly make a difference when compared to their peers.

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It is an honor to be chosen to be someone’s mentor. There is a lot that goes into that responsibility and those who truly care never take it lightly. A mentor is a highly influential figure in someone else’s life and the support they give is extremely valuable and important in helping their protégées get ahead and reach their full potential.

Understanding the full potential of a mentor and the immense responsibility it carries with to fill those shoes in someone’s life can be daunting and overwhelming, and accepting that fact is the first step that proves that you will make a difference as a mentor; the trepidation for fear of getting it wrong.

Mentoring isn’t easy and being great at it is even more difficult. A great part of it has to do with a correct match between mentor and mentee and the idea that each one of the parties involved in able and willing to give the partnership their best and contribute with everything they can. However, even a great match up is only part of the issue, there are many things that mentees just like mentors must bring to the table and contribute to the partnership in order to not just to succeed but also to stand apart from the rest. Helping others may be easier than you think, but creating a truly lasting difference takes a lot of hard work.

One of the first things to consider is the fact that great mentors are involved and take real actions towards the evolution of their mentees. Mentors who care about the people under their wing and about doing a great job at mentoring are known for taking risks and getting their hands dirty when it’s time to get the job done. Anyone can talk about great mentoring, but only a few can back those words with real meaningful actions and that is one of the most important things that make a great mentor.

A great mentor doesn’t just solve situations for their mentees; they actually find ways to challenge them and help them believe in their own abilities and their capacity to get ahead and figure things out on their own. A person who pushes you is a person who is in a way forcing you into a situation that will help you find the better side of you and polish your skills to be better or even find skills you didn’t even know you had.

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A great mentor is real. Mentors do not pretend to know everything as they are well aware of their own shortcomings and will help their mentees utilize the experience they have accrued over the years. It is a reality that you may not be able to learn from other people’s mistake, but it is worth a try and going against that approach pretty much negates the entire point of having a mentor. Experience has its good and its bad sides and you must embrace both of them in order to truly learn. A great mentor will not simply sit there and tell you stories about their glory or show you how successful they are. A mentor who cares is someone who sees the value in defeats just as they see it in victories, especially when it comes to their own experiences.

A great mentor knows how to communicate. Body language and nonverbal queues are ways great leaders and especially mentors must dominate in order to communicate efficiently. Your job as a mentor is that of guiding, advising and inspiring and that is why you must learn to be an effective communicator and someone with high emotional intelligence. These skills are not just great for mentoring, but also for any type of leader and for someone who is trying to advance their career like is the case with mentees who seek a mentor’s help. Being a great example of an emotionally intelligent individual is a great way to pass down those skills.

To sum up, a great mentor is a person who understands the importance of teamwork and communication in a relationship as important and influential as mentorships are. They are dedicated, patient, firm and inquisitive about their mentees and their journey and understand overall the importance of allowing people to grow by giving them a chance to shine and not withholding the experiences that have made them who they are today, even if those experiences aren’t always pleasant.

How to make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor?

It is well-known that mentors are important characters that help with the professional development of individuals. This is not an exception for law students who plan to one day become successful attorneys or start their own law firms. Mentors help to break that gap between experienced attorneys and the ones who just graduated from law school.

Mentorship needs to be a both-sided relationship between two individuals: the mentor and the mentee. Mentorship should be enriching and mutually beneficial. However, it is important to consider that all mentors needed to be mentees and that is why it is so important to find the right mentor. Depending on the type of mentor you have will be the type of mentor you will become.

In order for mentees to become great mentors, they need to receive great knowledge from their mentorship experience. Wisdom and useful advice are also important to set some standards and references for the future law mentor.

In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will review what is to be a law mentor and how do mentees take that step to become successful law mentors.

Related: How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

Being a mentee

As a mentee, your responsibility is to choose a mentor that can actually suit your needs. This is very important in law since you are only allowed to specialize in certain fields under that approval of a mentor. A mentor is not necessarily someone who sings in for the role. It can be anyone you are close to during the last years of law school or right after graduating from it.

Many mentors come in the shape of superiors who happen to work at the same place that you do. This is why it is very important for you to be surrounded by professionals that can give some key information and advice to your formation. This means that as a mentee you probably won’t have a boss who is constantly lecturing. But, a figure who is always willing to answer questions and help you grow professionally.

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Sometimes, those who once were mentees and now are mentors look back at the history and realize that some of their best mentors were not formally described as such. They were individuals with whom they could hold an enriching professional relationship with.

Those who are about to become mentors after being mentees should always keep in mind the important pieces of advice they once received from their mentors. Being a law mentee is about having the opportunity to observe, meet, and building long-lasting relationships. This happens because in the future you will want to share your skills, knowledge, and connections with those you are mentoring.

Becoming a mentor

Having said that, how do you make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor? There are different answers to this question.

First, as a law mentee, you will have many mentors along your career. This will mean that you will know many attorneys and they will know you back. Having a nice background is highly important to become a successful attorney.

In many cases, a former mentee who is now a successful attorney will become a mentor by simply helping those individuals who just got out of law school. This way, the person who used to be a mentee will start to give hints, advice and pass knowledge to a new generation of attorneys who are eager to learn. This mentor – mentee relationship won’t be formally established but will help the mentee take the right path.

Another way for a former mentee to become a mentor is thanks to the law-student decision. It has been said that mentorship is a both-sided relationship. This is how many law-students or recently graduated lawyers look out for the type of mentor they want to have. After this research takes places, they will approach to their potential mentor to start a mentorship relationship.

When both the mentor and the mentee feel comfortable and find common ground to grow a mutually beneficial relationship, the mentoring process starts. However, this is not yet a formal mentoring relationship. It is an agreement between two people on the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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The last way in which a former mentee can become a law mentor is by actually growing as an attorney. This will mean that the attorney will have a determinant background in the law practice. Also, it will mean that it is a successful and knowledgeable figure. When this happens, usually a law association spots the former mentee and offers it to become a mentor.

There are some associations in the United States who are dedicated to helping law-students become experienced and well-rounded professionals. These associations look for mentor candidates based on the student’s needs and want.

Bottom line, there is not only one way in which a law mentee could become a mentor. It is a process in which knowledge is gradually gained. It is also a new step that needs to be taken in order to help the new generations of attorneys to come be successful.