Super tips from a Super Mentor

How to break the ice is among the top tips we gathered from long-serving mentors such as Optus engineer Hoon Chan.

The best way to break the ice at your first mentoring session is to smile, shake hands and introduce yourself very simply, says Hoon Chan, Global Service Delivery Engineer at Optus Business. Hoon is one of three recipients of an ABCN Super Mentor award, which recognises corporate volunteers who have completed more than 10 mentoring sessions.

‘If your mentee is a shy student, ask them a few questions about their interests,’ Hoon suggests, ‘like their hobby or favourite food.’

As for dealing with your own nerves, Hoon recommends: ‘Take a deep breath before stepping into the room, recall a fun memory. And smile!’

Here are 10 other top tips we’ve collected from some of the thousands of volunteer mentors who participate in ABCN programs each year:

  1. Be a good listener – giving your student the space to talk about themselves will help them leap ahead in confidence (and also give you the time to gather your own thoughts!)
  2. Be vulnerable – don’t be afraid to tell your student about mistakes you have made and what you learned from them. Be prepared to talk about your failures more than your successes.
  3. Be a motivator – explain the simple concept of a comfort zone, and invite them to step out of theirs and into a learning zone.
  4. Be prepared – take the time to read the program introduction. Set a reminder beforehand, then put all work aside and enjoy the session.
  5. Be present – the sessions are short, so give yourself and your student the focus and time you both deserve to get the most out of it.
  6. Be open – think back to your past and share some experiences and stories of your first jobs – good, bad or ugly!
  7. Be authentic – your honesty about your experiences will help the students relate to you.
  8. Be practical – share any advice, tips or skills that you got early in your career.
  9. Be empathetic – try to remember who you were at their age. Did you have goals? If not, did you wish you did? If you did, have they changed? Are there choices that you learnt from?
  10. Be brave – what have you got to lose? Consider an ABCN mentoring program an adventure and throw yourself in. Go with the process and have fun.
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