I’ve found a lot of resources on being a good mentor but haven’t found many on how to be a good mentee. Mentorship is a two-way street so its important for the mentee to give their 100% as its important for the mentor.
Here’s some advice, based on personal experience, on how to be a good mentee to get the most out of mentorship sessions.
As a mentee its upto you to set the tone and expectations of your mentorship sessions. As an aside, I think its important to mention here that a good mentor will let you take charge of your mentorship sessions! Be clear about your goals and expectations. Make sure to communicate what type of learning works best for you, for example, are you more comfortable with hands on pair programming style sessions or you’re more comfortable with doing technical discussions together but then working on the problem later on your own. Whatever the method may be, the goal is to create the best learning environment for yourself.
During the mentorship session if you don’t have any predetermined tasks to work on then you can come prepared with some questions to ask your mentor or any topic to have a healthy discussion on. As a mentee it’s up to you to absorb as much knowledge from your mentor.
It is ok to sound stupid
Let go of your ego. Don’t be afraid to be the less smart person in the room. If you don’t understand a concept or even a word, ask for an explanation.
Ask good questions
No question is bad question so you should never be afraid to ask them. But I believe that an answer is as good as the question being asked, so be specific in your questions. For example, asking how does
useCallback hook work is an ok question but you can easily get a general answer if you read the react docs but instead if you be specific and ask - “I know why we generally use
useCallback but in what scenarios will an
useCallback hook be most effective? Are there cases when you should avoid using it?”
By asking specific questions you will get specific effective answers.
Keep the momentum going
Do the work. There is no shortcut for this. If you are involved in a mentorship program/arrangement you have to take time out of your day to do the work.
Do a weekly check-in with your mentor. Even if it’s not a full one-on-one mentorship session each week, at least keep your mentor up to date with your progress (positive or negative). A mentee has the most power to keep a forward momentum of the mentorship.
Ask for feedback
Feedback is the most crucial part of the whole process. Ask for it. Ask for it often. And once you get one, act upon it. Ask clarifying questions if you don’t fully understand what the feedback is supposed to mean. Make sure to iron out exactly what action you need to take to improve upon based on the feedback. “Feedback without action is simply information”.
If the feedback made you feel uncomfortable, make sure to communicate that clearly with your mentor. Feedback is supposed to build you up, not tear you down.
On closing notes, mentorship is a really great way to level up and learn from other’s experiences. You can have a mentor in any way or capacity. It can be a formal time-boxed arrangement or it can be an informal arrangement with someone you respect or it can even be a life-long thing, whatever that may be make sure you as a mentee respect your mentors time. Do the work and absorb as much knowledge as you can!