The Value of Mentorship

In this fast paced world, there is little time available to see where your career is going and learn new skills and knowledge that can bring you new opportunites. Just as important is the gift of giving for those who have served our industry for many years and now have insights and lessons that will benefit those interested in growing and learning.

Mentorship is that idea that can bring these two worlds together for the benefit of both the mentor and the mentee.

Public Works Knowledge Network is focused on knowledge sharing, and what better way to pass on knowledge then through a mentorship relationship. Our goal is to provide the space to find and connect with mentors, but not to manage the relationship or its outcomes. Keep in mind this relationship can start out as a simple 1 hour phone call twice a month as a touch point for advice and updates on progress with a challenge. They can be short lived or span many yeaers. The level of formality these connections take is entirely up to the participants.

As a guide, please refer to the workbook Building Effective Mentoring Relationships for a step by step program of building effective mentorship. Although there is effort on both parties to have a productive relationship, it is important that the mentee take a lead role in steering and guiding the direction so that their objectives are reached.   



  1. On Being a Mentor
  2. On Being a Mentee
  3. Find a Mentor/Mentee on the forum
  4. Start your Journey

1. On Being a Mentor:

Change Someones Life for as Little as 2 Hours a Month

Mentoring can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The approach we are making here is to keep the relationship focused and effective. The minimum suggested investment in time to leverage the relationship is a 1 hour session every two weeks. The additional work beyond these meetings would primarily be with the mentee who is ideally applying and practicing the skills and ideas being shared.

Quick Facts on the Mentoring Relationship

  • The goal is to provide guidance in the personal and professional growth of the mentee
  • The mentee is in charge of the learning path and sets out objectives to propose to the mentor
  • Mentor provides knowledge and expertise through listening, being a role model, making sugggestions and offering connections
  • The duration of the relationship is flexible with a suggested 1 year commitment

Are you Ready to be a Mentor?

It is not just a long career that makes you a candidate for being a good mentor you need to also consider these characteristics:

  • Do you have a positive view and can you see the potential in others?
  • Do you have relevant experience and access to a network of resources to share?
  • Are you patient and can you allow a mentee to make mistakes and learn as they go?
  • Can you give encouragement and build a mentees self esteem?
  • Can you see the big picture and connect ideas in a broad view to help the mentee see the world differently?

The most important thing is the commitment of time. We are all busy in todays society, but time for reflection and giving back is important to our next generation. If you have positive responses to these questions are are ready to invest 24 hours in the next year to someones future...then you are ready to be a Mentor!

Refer to the workbook Building Effective Mentoring Relationships on further tips on being a mentor. 

2. On Being a Mentee:

Are you Ready to be a Mentee?

It takes a special person to be a mentee as well. You need to know why you want to enter into such a program, what you want to get out of it and if you have the determination to see it through. Characteristics considered important are:

  • You are goal oriented and place a high value on setting and accomplishing goals
  • You are looking for new challenges and are not content with status quo
  • You take initiative and find your own path
  • You are willing to learn and are open to new ideas and different ways of thinking
  • You take personal responsibility, stay focused and admit your failures
  • You want to grow and be more than you are right now

How to Prepare to be a Mentee

  1. Define the relationship you are looking for: This forum is geared to less formal relationships to allow for a high volume of engagement. However, you can consider four combinations of relationship being informal/short term, formal/short term, informal/long term, and formal/long term. The best way to start the process is to use an informal short term approach which allows both parties to assess the relationship before more formal commitments are considered. 
  2. Describe what you are looking for in a mentor: field of experience, position, listening skills, work style etc.

3. Finding a Mentor/Mentee on the Forum

Go to the mentor forum and post your offering as a mentor or your needs as a mentee. Talk to several mentors/mentees to find a good fit for both sides. Once a commitment is made, you can then remove your post from the forum. 

4. Start you Journey

Reference the workbook Building Effective Mentoring Relationships on how to structure the relationship to be productive for both parties. The following summarizes the basis elements of a mentoring relationship. 

Mentee’s Strategies for an Effective Mentoring Conversation

Activities Mentor’s Job Mentee’s Job
Come prepared Learn whatever you can about your mentee before your initial meeting Learn whatever you can about your mentor before your initial meeting.
Talk about the big picture Recount your own mentoring experiences to your mentee. Explain what worked and what didn’t. Listen and ask questions.
Discuss the mentee’s needs Ask questions and listen. Explain where you are and where you would like to be…and how mentoring might help.
Seek mutual agreement on goals and expectations Explain what you can and what you cannot do. “This is what I hope to achieve through this mentoring relationship.”
Seek agreement on responsibilities “I will do______.” “And I agree to do_____.”
Set a timetable “Let’s work on this for one month. Then we’ll review progress and determine if we should continue.” Same
Agree on meeting times and who will set them Provide days and times that work for the mentee. “I will take responsibility for finding dates and times that also fit into your schedule.”
Insist on confidentiality “Nothing we discuss will go outside this room unless we both agree otherwise.” Same
Agree to be candid “If this relationship isn’t producing the results you expect, or if you disagree with my advice, say so. Neither of us has time to waste.” “I will tell you if this relationship isn’t working for me. I won’t waste your time.”