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Looking to build a great mentoring relationship? Look in the mirror.

September 15, 2011

By: Steve Cairns, GEICO Management Development

The truth is that growth through a mentoring relationship is not only dependent on a great mentor.  It also depends on a great mentee. In reality, it is probably more dependent on the mentee actively engaging and taking steps necessary to make the mentoring relationship a vehicle for their successful growth and development.

So…What’s a Mentee?  A mentee is person who wants to learn and grow and who desires to take charge of their own career. They understand that their efforts can benefit from the help of a trusted guide…a Mentor.

A great quote from Kenneth Blanchard sums it up well, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”                                                      

With that in mind, here are some basic principles that will help in our efforts to be great mentees.

  • Be the driver of your mentoring experience – It’s your career! You need to understand the goals that you really want to accomplish and be willing to work hard to achieve them. A mentor can merely guide you in your pursuit, so it is up to you to stay focused on your objectives.
  • Manage how and what you learn – As a mentee you need to consistently find situations and opportunities that can help you grow. A mentor can give you their advice regarding what to pursue, but you have to understand how each opportunity connects with your aspirations for the future.
  • Build your strengths – Do you understand your strengths?  It’s not uncommon for people to be so focused on the areas they may need improvement in that they totally miss what they do well.  When you understand your strengths you can then understand how to push yourself to meet the challenges ahead.
  • Go beyond your comfort limits – Yes, I know … it can be an over-used cliché but it doesn’t make it any less true. As a mentee you will be asked by your mentor to challenge yourself and move outside of your perceived comfort zone.  If you struggle with this aspect of your development it will most certainly hinder you in meeting your goals.
  • Make your mentoring relationship the foundation – Every successful mentoring relationship is a partnership and you need to take advantage of all the expertise and wisdom of your mentor.

Being a great mentee is a lot of work, but that work will bring huge benefits as you progress in your career.

Interested in learning more about careers at GEICO?  Visit or connect with our Delta Sigma Pi liaison and GEICO national college recruiter, Jill Stover, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Note: These concepts are based on “The Mentee’s Navigator” by Perrone and Ambrose.

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