Mentoring Expectations

Submitted 4 years ago by Dan Trepanier  | Jump to Story Comments1

Mentoring is work, it can be difficult and rewarding at the same time. You may face challenges you never anticipated. On the other hand, it’s nothing compared to what your intern is facing. Their future is in both your hands and seeing progress in the skills and confidence they gain is an encouraging experience.


I have a list of expectations and things I would want from someone mentoring me. These are also the things I expect from myself; 

Be Prepared:

  • Make sure you are understood, dont assume you are
  • Encourage questions always and as many times as required
  • Have a sense of humor and share it...remember your first job experience
  • Patience isn't a it's in your job description
  • Find new ways of explaining things, not everyone learns the same
  • Help set priorities, explain why some things are more important
  • Be considerate, respectful and professional
  • Set challenges, expect mistakes as part of the learning process
  • Address problems before they become too big
  • Make time each day to discuss progress and next steps - Even 10 minutes can make all the difference
  • Ask your intern for feedback, find out how you are doing and what you could do better

'Don’t assume I understand, encourage me to clarify information and ask questions.  If I do something you may think of as stupid, correct me, but have a sense of humor about it and share it …. remember when you were in my position. Patience isn’t just a virtue…now it’s in your job description. If I don’t understand something the third or fourth time try explaining it in another way, I may not learn the same way you do.  Be considerate, and respectful ….I have feelings too… and professional…I am looking at you as an example on how to model myself.'

'Help me set priorities, explain why some things are more important than others, I don’t have the corporate knowledge that you do. Challenge me, trust that I can do more, tell me I can do it and I’ll rise to the opportunity.  I will make some mistakes along the way but with your help I will learn from them. Tell me if I am doing something wrong, if there are problems, I’d rather know than keep making mistakes. I might not like it, but I’ll be better off for it.  Spend time with me, let me know how I am doing, even a few minutes at the end of the day lets me know I’m valued and the advice you give tells me if I’m on the right track. It would be nice if you asked my opinion too, there are things you could do or change that I’m hesitant to ask for unless given an opportunity'

  • Interview based on the behavioral qualities you seek, skills can be developed - Motivation, teamwork, accountability...
  • Develop assessment tools
  • Be willing to ask questions, request more information if needed and of course check references

It is important to plan ahead.  Know what it is you are looking for and be sure your expectations are clear.  Not every job needs the same type of person, determine what kind of environment your intern will be working in.  Is the job repetitive, high pressure, will they be working with multiple clients or independently, how much time are you willing to invest and do you have the support of others working with you. Have assessment tools to evaluate candidates in their interviews, (sometimes it is very, very hard to choose).  Have goals and develop them in conjunction with your intern.  Not everyone has the same objectives, others may not work as quickly and take longer to reach certain milestones.  Know what you are getting into, check references, ask about punctuality, motivation, ability to handle criticism, ask their references if they feel the candidate would benefit from the experience.  Contact your YMCA supports for information and guidance if you need to.

Dan Trepanier

As mentors, you are doing more than just bringing a new person into the workforce: you are providing opportunities for a young person that they would otherwise not receive in a competitive job market. Interns need chances to develop their skills and experience. It is crucial that you understand that your intern may not have had as many opportunities in entering the workforce as you did. The intern may never have worked in an office environment or with a staff team or even held a long-term job at all.

Interns may not arrive with the skills and experience that would normally be expected of a new employee. In some cases, they may have had negative experiences in school or may even have a criminal record. It is important that you recognize that this is the past and no longer a concern. Keep an open mind.

The interns have worked hard to gain the opportunities you are providing. In return they are providing you with a rewarding opportunity to make a significant impact on the life of another person, as well as contributing their energy and fresh perspective in your workplace. Mentoring is a big commitment, but well worth it! 

Exercise: Assessing Your Personal Expectations

  • As a mentor, what do you hope to gain in return for your investment in time and effort? (e.g., personal satisfaction, recognition, other benefits)?


  • Will you be sharing these hopes and expectations with your intern? If not, why not?