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Supporting Students. Developing Leaders.

Establishing the Mentor-Student Relationship

1.  Developing the Relationship. Take time to get to know each other.  Some basic guidelines for this initial period include:

•  Take time to describe yourself professionally and to let the student know what makes you tick and what motivates you. 
•  Explain why you are interested in being a mentor.  
•  Listen to the student’s story, including passions, challenges, and concerns. Ask about interests, hobbies, travels, movies.  
•  This often is the extent of the first meeting with a new mentee. When you both feel comfortable, it is time to set up a second
    meeting to move onto the next stage.  

    2.  Negotiating Agreements. Start identifying and negotiating the expectations and desire you both have, including:

    •  When and where you will meet.  
    •  How long you anticipate being able to support the student. For some, this is time limited. For others, the support may be
       lifelong. It is up to you and the student—but it is important to be as explicit as you can at this stage and to allow for
       flexibility should changes be required.
    •  How you'll give each other feedback. Consider a regular period during which both the student and the sponsor can
       evaluate how things are going.

      By establishing these guidelines, you'll be helping the student become skilled in the development of adult professional relationships.

      3.   Supporting the Student’s Growth. Here's where the bulk of your relationship will focus: building skills and attitudes they need
             to be successful.  Try to be a skilled "learning broker," in which you help the student identify objectives and activities that
             will support their growth toward their own goals.

      4.   Ending the Formal Relationship. Formal relationships should have a "hard close," a formal official ending.  Start preparing for
             this ending at least a month before it occurs.  When it's near, plan a celebration of your accomplishments together and
             negotiate the form of your ongoing relationship. 

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      Montgomery County, MD


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