So you have decided to find a mentor, or maybe you already have a mentor, but not sure what your role is in this new team. Here are some things I have learned personally from being a mentee and serving as a mentor.
Ask questions, ask lots of questions, and ask more questions. This is something I was scared to do for years as a mentee, fearing I was going to be seen as stupid or a pest, and not someone to be taken seriously.
Try to meet face-to-face (taking COVID precautions of course). You will learn a lot more from face-to-face interaction. Right now and depending on the reason for mentoring, a video call or telephone call works great.
Be yourself. It's better to be true to yourself so that you can get what you need from the mentor. I lost out on some things because I just didn't know how to act. When I was in graduate school, I learned to be true to myself and think on my own and not follow my mentor exactly. This allowed me to explore lots of topics in graduate school and branch out to a new career.
If your mentor is not helping or you do not have a good rapport, find another one. It could be a person you know and work with already.
In closing, I'm including a quote from a researcher, Brian Uzzi, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, who was one of three researchers regarding whether a Mentor/Protege relationship is beneficial. Kellogg Insight, July 7, 2020. For the full article, click here.
“It’s incumbent upon the mentee to branch out, take their mentor’s tacit knowledge, and do something that breaks new ground.” — Brian Uzzi