Techniques for Mentoring Students and Young Professionals

William Montgomery Cerf

Mentorship can be a rewarding way to prepare students and young professionals for their careers. A mentor takes on a lot of responsibility when they take on the mantle, but the work is worth it. Studies have confirmed that mentoring has a considerable positive impact on students. 

William Montgomery Cerf explains that some of the best ways to mentor and teach students and young professionals involves knowing what to teach, as well as strong communication. Constructive criticism will allow students and young professionals to learn from their mistakes. Additionally, an empathetic approach will lead to mentorship success. 

Students and young professionals need competent mentors. Through effective mentorship, they’re given the foundations for a productive future. 

The Impact of Mentoring 

94% of workers have indicated that they would stay longer at a business that invested in helping them advance. Mentorships implemented as part of a learning and development program will raise the rate at which companies keep employees. 

A study by Deloitte indicated that 83% of the employees surveyed found mentoring advice they received through learning and development programs satisfactory. 

Mentoring sets up new members of the professional workforce up for success. It can open the doors to new resources and tools otherwise unavailable to students and teach them valuable interpersonal skills.

Ways To Mentor

It’s not a stretch to say that mentoring those fresh on their career journeys is valuable. How, then, can mentors make the most of their positions – for themselves, their mentees, and their companies? 

·         Know What Skills to Teach 

Mentoring is not about showing young professionals how to adhere to the employee handbook and log into the customer management system. Mentorship gives students the tools they’ll need in any position they pursue. These skills apply inside or out of their current company or internship. 

The most valuable skills to teach include, but are not limited to: 

  • Networking – Give young professionals the scoop on who to talk to. Teach them what events and groups will propel their professional development. 80% of employees concur that networking played a vital part in the advancement of their careers. 
  • Career Progression – A mentor should be able to guide new employees on how to take an active role in their career progression. 
  • Leadership – As a mentor, leading by doing will begin to sow the seeds for future confident leadership. 

·         Communication 

Communication is an optimal skill for every aspect of life, both professionally and personally. Mentees should be the ones taking the reins on their own career trajectories. Mentors are there to help keep them on the right path and should avoid cutting in with their own personal career growth desires.  Successful mentors get to know the student’s aspirations and lay out a roadmap to achieving them. Engage in open dialog about their expectations for their mentors and turn them into actionable behaviors.

William Montgomery Cerf

·         Deliver Constructive Criticism

Part of acting as a mentor is overcoming the missteps that a student or young professional may make when they’re starting out. Critique should be tactful and actionable. Insulting or degrading a mentee severely hinders professional development. 

Deliver criticism while remaining respectful and trustworthy by sharing a personal experience. Mentors who lay out a ‘don’t make the same mistake I did’ pathway -from the situation to the mistake, to the lesson learned – provides a full frame of reference for new employees. 

Students are not going to get it all right on the first try. Be patient and provide applicable, constructive feedback. 

·         Employ Empathy 

To better empathize with mentees, mentors should listen, engage with them. Attempting to relate to their students helps mentors approach learning effectively. Practice curiosity and open-mindedness. 

Every employee is different. A common mistake made by mentors is assuming that their students will act and work exactly as they once did. Embrace the individuality of each student and young professional.


Mentorship is beneficial on all counts. The mentor, mentee, and company are set up for success from a robust mentorship/learning and development program.

When it comes to becoming a mentor, those with the ability to communicate and empathize will be able to impart lessons about leadership, networking, and career progression to students and young professionals. 

Monty Cerf
William Montgomery Cerf

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