Nicole Bensen

Be a stellar mentee

Last summer I was honored to be named a “2022 Woman of Influence” by The Silicon Valley Business Journal, and this week I’ll be one of the mentors at their “Mentoring Monday” event.

And, guess what…they’ve just given me three complimentary tickets to share with you! If you’re able to attend this event in San Jose on Monday, you can grab your ticket here. Just use the promo code “VIP” when you register.

For an upcoming editorial, they’ve asked the mentors to answer this question, “How can a mentee best engage with a mentor?” And because mentoring has been so helpful to me both for my career, as well as in evaluating my career with my mental health, I wanted to share my answer with you too.

Mentor working in coffee shop.


“how can a mentee best engage with a mentor?”


use the acronym “clear”:

Confirm and clarify the relationship.

Has the mentor agreed to be your mentor? What are your expectations of the relationship? What are your mentor’s expectations of you as a mentee? It’s also helpful to talk about frequency of meetings, boundaries (many mentors may not have the ability to email/connect outside of planned meetings), and how best to schedule their time. For example, should you arrange meetings with their administrative business partner?

Lead the relationship.

Proactively plan the meetings. Come with an agenda and specific questions or challenges. Have a list of things you’ve tried so far, or ideas you’d like feedback on.

Engage in open and honest conversation, and evaluate your progress/homework since the last meeting.

Apply the advice, and adjust as needed.

You don’t need to mindlessly follow all advice, but if you disagree or have questions, let your mentor know, so you can talk about it.

Respect and recognize.

Be on time for meetings, and keep to the time allotted. (Be on time; end on time.) Show gratitude for your mentor’s expertise and contributions.


Think of value you could bring to the relationship too. Even if you’re early in your career, you may be able to share insights or connections, or pass along an article your mentor wrote/was featured in to reach a wider audience.

Did I miss anything you’d include from either a mentor or mentee point of view? Comment below to let me know!



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