How Does a Mentor Get the Most Out of Their Session?

Mentoring is an extremely enriching experience that can help you develop your leadership skills, connect with others in a meaningful way and reap intrinsic rewards by helping others.

To help you prepare, here are a few tips that will enhance your experience as a mentor.

Before your session:

  1. Before you meet your student, use the Vygo in-app chat to ask them about their goals. For example, you could say something like, "How can I best help you?” “What would you like to achieve during our session?" or "What are three areas you are having trouble with?" Not only will the student's answer help you prepare yourself for the session – but it will also give them greater insight into their own needs.

  2. If your mentoring session is scheduled to take place face-to-face at a place where it’s possible to make a reservation – such as a library or a university meeting room – consider making a booking in advance. Also, make sure you read up on the relevant subject matter to refresh your memory of the content.

  3. Give your mentee a gentle reminder to come prepared, whether that means bringing the relevant textbook or an assignment’s criteria sheet – whatever is needed to ensure both users get the most out of the session.

  4. Arrive at your arranged meeting place or video-call room at least five minutes before the session is due to begin. Set up your workspace with paper, pens and any other equipment you think may be useful, such as a calculator or a textbook. Ensure your devices are charged or that you have access to a power point if you need one so that you can contact your student and record your session duration.

  5. When it comes to interacting with your mentee, be professional but friendly. Welcome them to the session warmly, and consider sharing information about what you’re studying and what your interests are. Doing so should make your mentee feel more relaxed about opening up, especially if they are shy. Building rapport and personalising the session helps facilitate better communication and makes the interaction more rewarding and comfortable for you both.

During your session:

  1. Remind the mentee about the amount of time you have together, and make sure you keep on track.

  2. Ask your mentee to reiterate their goals for the session. Note that if the mentee’s expectations are unrealistic or constitute academic misconduct, you should provide alternative ideas.

  3. Once the session goals have been clearly defined, offer suggestions as to how to break up the time to best address them all. For instance, you could say something like, "I would like you to walk away from this session feeling confident about how to approach these types of questions. Do you think spending 20 minutes on each one will be a good use of our time together?"

  4. During the session, ask open-ended questions. This process helps mentees acknowledge and understand any errors they have made, and feel guided towards solutions. Questions can revolve around the mentee’s problems, processes, approaches or answers.

    For example, you could ask, "How did you get to this answer – can you walk me through the steps you took?" "What do you notice when you compare this example and your outcome?" or "Let's go over the steps you took – does it still make sense?" Also, when explaining concepts, personalise the examples you create. This helps mentees anchor the lesson in a familiar area of interest or strength.

  5. When there are 10 minutes or so left, it’s a good idea to check in with your mentee to make sure their session goals will be achieved before your meeting concludes. Consider asking, "Would you prefer to continue working on this for the final 10 minutes, or do you want to move on to the next question?"

  6. Once your session has ended, we recommend that you ask students to rehash what they learned. For instance, you might say, "Can you give me an overview of what was covered during the session today?" "Are you feeling more confident with the areas you were concerned about before our session?" or "Is it okay if I contact you again, in-app, to check on your progress in a few days?"

  7. Within 24 hours of the session finishing, shoot your mentee through a message using the Vygo app summarising the areas you covered during the session and providing any relevant additional information.

Here is an example message you could send:

"Hi Nahum,

Thanks for the session – we got through a lot, didn’t we! Here is a summary of everything we went through: A, B and C. Let me know if you would like another session. I am available at the same time next Thursday or Friday.

Have a lovely week!