Baker Jones encourages undergrads to seek career mentors once they are sophomores.
Once a student has found a mentor, it's important to discuss how the relationship will work, experts say.
"Set the ground rules," says Hebert. "So for example: How often will we talk in one month? What is the expectation if I email you? What's the expectation of receiving a return email? Is that within 48 hours? Is it 24? What does that look like? How will we communicate? Will it be via phone? Text messaging? Email? A combination? In person?"
Students should expect to do the bulk of the work of establishing meeting times and working around their mentor's schedule, experts say. And because many relationships work best when both parties have something to gain, students should help their mentors when given the opportunity.
"They also need to be thinking about what I can give to this relationship," says Adams from Pepperdine. "We all have something to give to other people."
She recalls a mentor who needed a baby sitter, and the mentee was able to find three possible sitters by the end of day. She encourages students to find creative ways to give back.
Students should make sure they are always benefitting from the relationship. If they want the relationship with their mentor to last, it's important for students to periodically review goals.
When doing so, students should have realistic expectations of what is and is not feasible. A mentor cannot work miracles. Students will still have to take the lead on jump-starting their careers.
"Do not expect to get a job out of this. Do not expect to get an internship. That's an extra bonus and a perk," says Hebert.
Baker Jones agrees that students can't set high expectations too soon.
"They should not expect for their mentor to be an advocate for them until they've demonstrated to their mentor that they are worthy of that advocacy," she says. "A mentor may have lots of connections, but you have to demonstrate that it's worth them making those introductions. Because it can be detrimental to them if you don't follow through."
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