Career Mentoring is a Career Exploration activity in which a learner is matched one-on-one with an adult professional to explore potential careers and related educational issues. Different than programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the career mentor serves as a career resource by sharing insights and providing guidance about the workplace, careers and postsecondary education/training. This is accomplished through formal and informal meetings organized at the school, in the workplace or online, but never in an unsupervised environment or the home. Some career mentors may work with and support a small group of learners.
Building a trusting relationship between the learner and the mentor is the key to a successful experience. Designed to meet specific learning objectives, career mentoring is educationally rich, is tied to the curriculum, and helps learners connect what they’re learning in school or training with the workplace.
Career mentoring is one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all learners engaged in career-related programs or course of study in the Earn & Learn community.
A Career Mentor IS
A role model
Invested in outcomes
An additional resource
A Career Mentor Is NOT
Any employer partner a learner happens to interact with
A teacher, a worksite supervisor or internship host (though a mentor/mentee relationship may evolve during or after the experience)
A counselor or case manager
Paid to be there
Career Mentoring Is Designed To:
Give learners exposure to jobs, careers and industries.
Help build a relationship with a caring and knowledgeable adult.
Offer a chance to practice communication skills and develop professional skills.
Help make the connection between school and the workplace.
Inform career planning.
Career Mentoring Is Structured To:
Build self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and flexibility.
Build occupational knowledge.
Enable learners to identify areas of career interest.
Allow for the mentor and mentee to select each other.
Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and entry into the industry.
Career Mentoring Is Supported By:
Classroom preparation and reflection upon the experience verbally and in writing.
A long-term commitment from an adult role model (generally at least a year).
A focus on building trust and respect with each other.
Clear and reasonable expectations for learners and their career mentor.
Meetings or communication with enough regularity to develop a strong relationship.
Career Mentoring Is Connected To:
Individual career development/training plans.
A continuum of future work-based learning activities that build over time.
The learner’s next steps.
Career Mentoring Format Options
Traditional Mentoring: One adult to one learner.
Small Group Mentoring: One adult to as many as four learners.
Team Mentoring: Several adults working with small groups of learners. Adult-to-learner ratio is no greater than 1:4.
Large Group Mentoring: One or two adults to seven to ten learners.
Peer Mentoring: Older learners mentoring other learners.
E-mentoring: Mentoring via email and the internet combined with another model from the list above.
Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Connectors to ensure successful career mentoring.
Before Career Mentoring:
Identify all interested teachers/faculty and help them plan for career mentoring. Share the Teacher/Faculty Tip Sheet.
Select and design the appropriate career mentoring model with a focus on career
exploration, training and related education.
Assess potential mentors and select those who are compatible with the learners.
Conduct background checks and fingerprinting if required. Determine costs and who will bear expenses.
Support teachers/faculty in selecting appropriate learners and creating learning objectives.
Match learners with potential mentors. Allow the mentor and mentee to select each other.
Onboard mentors with an orientation and training. In training, reinforce that there is to be no face-to-face meeting outside of supervised activities. Remind mentors to keep equity issues in mind, ensuring that one mentee isn’t offered many perks while another receives few.
Define how much face-to-face time is desirable. (Early in the experience, the more the better.)
Explore alternative forms of connecting, such as ZOOM, email and other social media.
During Career Mentoring:
Share the Work-Readiness Competencies with the mentor.
Share the current focus of classroom activities on a regular basis.
Provide ongoing support and training for career mentors. Encourage them to share their story of the pathway to their current position. Support them in helping learners build their personal traits. Help mentors understand issues of confidentiality.
Provide ongoing support for learners. Encourage them to share interests, concerns and ideas with their mentors. Suggest they invite mentors to school activities. Have learners share assignments and study topics with their mentors.
After Career Mentoring:
Document the career mentoring. Review feedback from mentors, teachers/faculty and learners and summarize results. Make recommendations for improvements.
Help learners update their career development plan and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
Send thank-you notes to mentors.
Publicize the career mentoring and the businesses that participated by placing a story in the local newspaper or posting on the school or agency webpage.
Consider other potential public relations benefits and opportunities.
This includes Earn & Learn work-based learning connectors and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for learners or other learners.
Phase 1: Identify interested teachers/faculty, mentors and learners. Select career mentoring model.
Phase 2: Match learners with mentors (or assist them in choosing each other)..
Phase 3: Prepare teachers/faculty and learners.
Phase 4: Provide orientation and training to career mentors. Arrange mentoring events.
Phase 5: Provide ongoing support to learners and career mentors.
Phase 6: Use feedback to document effectiveness of program and help learners update their career development plan.
Tips For Success
Conduct Effective Planning
Prepare for Success
Identify Learning Objectives
Create Authentic and Engaging Experiences
Connect to Careers
Support Learner Growth
Ensure Activities are Safe and Legal
Provide Ongoing Support
Provide for Reflection, Presentation and Feedback
Connect Learner to the Next Step
Assess and Document the Experience
Learners who are currently paired with a Career Mentor may continue to receive support via telephone or some other technology if the necessary permissions, protections and guidance are in place to promote learner safety.