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Preparing for Your First Meeting with Your Mentor

Your potential mentor has responded to your request and has agreed to meet. You have responded to confirm the time and place of the meeting. How should you prepare?

In planning for any meeting, you should define your goals. What outcome do you want? How do you want you and your potential mentor to leave the meeting? In this case, your goals might be:

  1. to convince your potential mentor that you are worthy of their help;
  2. to assess whether she or he can provide the guidance that you seek and is someone you feel comfortable working with; and, if so
  3. to agree that you’ll establish a mentoring relationship.

To achieve Goal 1, you should prepare to give an expanded version of your introductory email.

  • Introduce yourself. Who are you? Why you came to UMass Chan and what your roles are here? What are your career goals and aspirations? (if you are unclear about your career goals, you might use the Individual Opportunity Plan)
  • Define your needs for guidance. In what area do you need mentoring and why? If you need guidance on a project, describe the goals of the project and the parts where you need help (send information about the project, such as a specific aims page, in advance). What is the timeline?
  • Describe why you are asking this person for help. What is their relevant expertise? How would that relate specifically to you?

To achieve Goal 2, you should use the meeting to assess your potential mentor. Are they interested in you and your project? Are they someone you can work with? You might ask how they have mentored others or if they have a personal philosophy or approach to mentoring.

To achieve Goal 3, you need to ask specifically if he or she will mentor you. If they agree, then discuss the next steps:

  • schedule the next meeting
  • define the agenda for that meeting, for example:
    • expectations for the mentoring relationship
    • detailed discussion of project and timelines
    • action steps for the next meeting

For guidance on the next steps see: Setting Expectations, Mentoring Agreement and Managing Meetings.