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Being a Good Mentor

by | Sep 13, 2020 | Teaching

What does it take to be a good mentor to someone. One answer could be that a mentor is a wise, articulate person with vast life experience and willing to share that experience. Another could be that a good mentor is one who can give the mentee the ‘Easy Button’, i.e. solve their issues. However, I think that the main quality of being a good mentor is being able to actually listen to what the mentee has to say, empathize with them, then offer educated advice based on their own experiences. The advice should also be relevant to the familiarity the mentee has with the subject at hand. This, in my opinion, keeps the mentee engaged in learning from the mentor because they are not just ‘learning’ skills that they already knew but also benefiting from the mentor’s knowledge. A good mentor also gives the mentee a framework to think and solve issues rather than just solving the issue at hand. Finally, a strong relationship between a mentor and a mentee is also characterized in the mentor learning some experiences in life from the mentee as well. No one knows everything or has experienced everything in life; both a mentor and mentee can gain new perspectives on the world, no matter how much experience in life they thought they had before.

One example of mentoring that stood out the most for me was when my dad helped me prepare for high school interviews. Despite his 25+ years of professional career where he has had a lot of interviewing experience and has also been personally involved in interviewing prospective students for Northwestern, he didn’t right away start preaching how to give a good interview. Instead, he held a preliminary mock interview with me, gave me feedback on what I did well and what I could improve on. He understood the story I wanted to tell and gave me tips on how to tell my story most effectively. This made me more interested in what he was saying, and it helped me take ownership of my own narrative at actual high school interviews. It also made me ready for any question that was thrown at me, as he helped me view the interview as a way to tell my own story instead of a Q+A session.

This style of mentorship was also best shown in the show 30 Rock. The show mainly revolves around two people in a mentor-mentee relationship who at the beginning of the show have almost nothing in common.

  • The boss (Mentor) The boss who is an emotional recluse, is extremely career driven and only cares for corporate profits
  • The employee (Mentee) The employee though dedicated to her job, does not take life seriously.

However, as the show progressed, the relationship between these two became the strongest out of any in the show. This is because from the beginning, they were able to form a strong bond based on their professional respect for each other, their willingness to listen to each other and learn from each other. Along the way, they ended up helping each other find a balance in their personal lives as well as in their careers.

It doesn’t matter how different the mentor and mentee are, be that in life experiences, knowledge, etc. All it takes to lay the groundwork for a good mentor-mentee relationship is just to listen, empathize and offer informed advice based on what you listen. It will eventually foster a relationship which is strong, respectful and beneficial to both the mentor and mentee.

by Rohan Nadkarni ’22, recently has competed in several state and local debate competitions.