10 Key Mentoring Topics For a Great Experience

Aug. 16, 2021

Knowing what to talk about in mentorship sessions can be a challenge. Though you want to have focused, meaningful discussions with your mentor, you may feel lost about how to get started.

10 Key Mentoring Topics For a Great Experience

To make the most of your mentor’s experience and expertise, it’s essential that you create a roadmap for your sessions. We’ve put together 10 effective mentoring topics below that can make your discussions engaging and fruitful as you develop your career.

Because there’s no “one size fits all” for mentorship, it’s important to select mentoring topics specific to your interests and needs. Getting the right mentor-mentee match also plays a big part. On MentorCruise, you can connect with your ideal mentor and get hands-on support.

Why is it important to choose the right mentoring topics?

While a mentee’s needs can be varied, choosing the right mentoring topics can provide a way to start a fruitful discussion between mentors and mentees. In particular, delving into the right mentoring topics and asking the right questions can allow:

  • The mentee to understand how to communicate their needs more effectively
  • The mentorship session to run smoothly and effectively by minimizing instances of awkward silence
  • The mentor to identify issues the mentee may have missed
  • The mentor and mentee to get to know each other
  • Key points to be tackled during mentorship sessions
  • Mentors to probe deeper into certain problem areas

Best practices for successful mentorship sessions

No matter what topics you discuss with your mentor, it’s important to follow best practices for your sessions.

Mentorship is often your first foray into the “real world” and you should stick to the expectations of your industry. Here are some best practices to keep your relationship positive and professional:

  • Define your goals before every meeting.
  • Create an ongoing list of questions and mentoring topics to delve into.
  • Set expectations early in the relationship.
  • Ensure a balance of mentor-mentee sharing (i.e. both listen and share).
  • Don’t be shy, but leave your ego behind.
  • Take responsibility for your own career development – don’t expect your mentor to do it for you!
  • Maintain confidentiality, especially regarding sensitive or personal topics.
  • Follow up to schedule the next meeting for consistent mentorship.
  • Evaluate whether the relationship is working (or not).

These quick tips will ensure that you’re building a strong relationship that’s worth your time and your mentor’s.

Key mentoring topics to dive deep into your career needs

Discussion topics may vary widely depending on your dream job and your current career stage. However, these key mentoring topics can lead to deeper discussions, regardless of your specific situation. You can even tailor these topics, or skip any that may not apply.

Your ideal mentor is waiting for you on MentorCruise. Get started with a call to outline a study plan, prep for an interview or discuss any topic of your choosing.

1. Developing a career path

Your mentor’s expertise can lead to practical career results. Take a full session to talk about how to best develop your career.

You can ask your mentor about recommendations for your trajectory, including next steps. It’s also valuable to talk about your mentor’s experience with career-building and any key takeaways.

Finally, you might ask for practical activities, such as job searching, references building, resume reviewing, mock interviewing or job shadowing.

2. Networking

Networking is an often dreaded part of career-building. Yet, creating a network and strengthening professional relationships is important for finding new connections, sparking ideas and exchanging career know-how.

You should be regularly networking in order to leverage your professional contacts, whether through virtual training, online forums, industry events, professional associations or even 1-to-1 coffee dates.

Your mentor can help identify areas for you to pursue industry networking, as well as tips for improving your networking skills. Together you might role-play networking with new connections or talk about how to foster genuine relationships.

3. Interviewing skills

The leap from interview to job offer can be high. Luckily, you can refresh and rehearse your interviewing skills with the help of a mentor.

Perhaps you get nervous under pressure, or you’re not sure how to respond to certain questions. Focus on interviewing skills in your mentorship sessions can help you ace your next job opportunity.

For technical interviews or skills-based tests, prep work can be even more intensive. Lean on your mentor’s expertise to do practice interviews and tests, so you feel more confident about applying your technical abilities.

Your mentor may also have useful tips for dealing with questions that you don’t know. Practicing how to handle curveballs can improve your communication skills and ease your nerves in the moment.

4. Collaborating, communication and soft skills

Soft skills are more important than you may think. Together with your mentor, you can identify areas of improvement for your softs skills and work together to build them up.

In today’s workplace, communication and collaboration are two of the most sought-after skills. Both center around emotional intelligence, which allows you to receive constructive feedback, resolve conflicts fairly and respect others’ opinions and contributions.

Your mentor may suggest discussing common workplace conflicts, or role-playing what you would do in tricky scenarios.This is also your chance to bring up real-life situations that you’ve faced or are currently dealing with at work.

5. Negotiating salaries

Nobody likes talking about money. However, at some point, you’ll need to negotiate your salary with your employer.

Navigating salary negotiations is a matter of experience. Spend a mentorship session talking about how to determine appropriate salary ranges, analyze compensation packages and handle negotiations when HR gets pushy.

Your mentor can help you understand what to expect during this process and how to get a higher offer without stepping on anybody’s toes.

6. Becoming entrepreneurial

Developing an entrepreneurial spirit can really help your career take off. Work with your mentor about how to cultivate entrepreneurial habits.

For example, your mentor may recommend certain publications to stay up-to-date on the industry, or suggest ways to boost your sense of innovation at work. You may also think through how to ask your boss for time and resources to complete a special project.

Setting goals for innovation and risk-taking can be useful for creating new work opportunities. Your mentor can highlight ways to follow your instincts and talents.

7. Building skills and leadership qualities

Building a career involves taking small steps towards your long-term goals. You can get insights from your mentor about your ideal action plan for learning new skills and improving your leadership qualities.

Goal-setting is an excellent activity for any mentorship session, as it puts your career needs in the spotlight. The best action plans will analyze your strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to improve them.

Skills training with your mentor could involve discussing your short- and long-term goals, creating resources lists and improving them in sessions through personalized activities.

8. Gleaning personal insights from mentor experience

Everybody’s journey is unique. You can learn a lot by discussing your mentor’s own experiences.

Do a little research and come up with questions about your mentor’s career trajectory. For example, you may be interested in examples of how your mentor faced adversity or fostered innovation outside of working hours.

By discussing your mentor’s experience, you’ll get insights about your own career path, or better define your personal priorities at work. Sharing stories can lead you to unexpected takeaways, too.

9. Problem-solving current career situations

Your current job is the perfect starting point for practical career advice.

Identify some workplace issues you’re dealing with and present them to your mentor. Together, you can discuss these challenges, conflicts and ethical dilemmas to help you define potential solutions.

This is also a chance to get into less urgent career situations. For example, you may be interested in developing more initiative at work, or striking a better work-life balance. Make note of any or all of these issues and bring them to your next mentorship session.

10. Harnessing feedback for improvement

Feedback is the heart of improvement. You can take your skills to the next level by setting up key milestones with your mentor.

By getting feedback on these assignments, you’ll be able to track your progress. You’ll also take advantage of your mentor’s expertise in the field and get real constructive criticism from an industry leader.

In turn, receiving and applying feedback can inspire self-improvement now and as your career continues to develop.

Build a strong mentor-mentee relationship on MentorCruise

Use your mentor’s time wisely by bringing up these top 10 mentoring topics. By planning your sessions, you’ll spark great discussions and build a stronger mentor-mentee relationship. Bonus: you can get even more ideas for discussion topics with these 22 mentorship questions.

Start taking advantage of the benefits of mentorship by getting paired with an expert on MentorCruise. You’ll get matched with your ideal mentor, so you can get hands-on support and start discussing these topics – and more.

What can mentorship do for you?

Our 'state of mentorship' report sums up the benefits, reports and effects that mentorship has on the modern working environment.

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