WSU Alumni Mentoring Program Handbook

The WSU Alumni Mentoring Program is designed to be flexible and open-ended to suit the needs and interests of paired alumni mentors and student mentees. Once a match is made, the mentee and mentor are the ones who decide how to structure their time and conversations. The information below was developed to help guide you toward a positive and productive mentor/mentee relationship.

The full WSU Alumni Mentoring Program Handbook (PDF) is also available to download and print.

Your first meeting is an opportunity to get to know each other and identify goals you wish to pursue throughout the program. For your conversation, here are some topics you may want to include:

  • Share information about each other’s background and interests
  • Discuss mentoring goals and reasons for participating 
  • Discuss student’s career interests and  goals
  • Identify interest in mentoring activities
  • Exchange contact information and schedules
  • Identify best times to connect and schedule future meetings
  • Establish communication expectations

Mentors and mentees should work together to find activities that interest them both and that they both find beneficial. Such activities may include:

  • Identify student’s talents, skills and interests and discuss their application to various career options
  • Discuss how mentor’s personal and professional life fit together
  • Discuss employer types and organizational culture
  • Discuss professional standards and unspoken rules of etiquette that exist in your field or workplace
  • Discuss the transition from school to work and identify struggles and things you wish you knew when you graduated
  • Critique the student’s resume and/or cover letter
  • Practice for an interview, role play through questions
  • Arrange or participate in a company tour
  • Participate in a job shadow day
  • Connect with other WSU Alumni on LinkedIn
  • Practice for a presentation, help student refine presentation skills
  • Investigate professional networks that would be beneficial for the student to join
  • Attend a Winona State University Alumni event and network together to make important connections with other alums
  • Attend any other WSU event-- sporting, speaker series, theater, etc.
  • Have the mentor join the mentee for a day of classes on campus

Mentors and mentees are encouraged to share information and perspective on education and career preparation, life as a professional, industry trends, and their future goals among a variety of other topics. These discussion questions and topics can help you get the conversation started:

  • What qualities do you look for in people you hire?
  • How do you handle obstacles, roadblocks or setbacks?
  • Who has the most impact on your life?
  • What do you see as upcoming trends in the industry?
  • If you could start all over again in launching your career, what steps would you take?
  • What are the most satisfying and the most frustrating parts of your work?
  • What are the professional organizations in your field?
  • Discuss your educational background and the role of educational preparation in your field.
  • What are some of your personal goals?
  • Share your WSU experiences

Good mentoring requires good listening by both parties. Here are a few tips to help you be a better listener:

  • Show interest
  • Be open
  • Let your mentee/mentor know when your time is limited
  • Ask open-ended questions that result in more than a “yes” or “no”
  • Ask clarifying questions that encourage more conversation
  • Avoid distractions (such as email, television, music, roommates/family)
  • Be willing to offer or accept feedback

As a mentor and an experienced professional, you are in a position to give useful feedback to your mentee for their own professional development. Constructive criticism needs to be provided in the right manner in order to be effective. Here are a few strategies to use when giving feedback:

  • Be direct and straightforward
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Be candid
  • Be specific, focused and timely
  • Be non-personal (focus on a behavior, not on the person)
  • Encourage the mentee to take responsibility for their own actions
  • Deal with behaviors or actions, not people or personalities
  • Be fair, professional and balanced
  • Offer help, support and suggestions