Coleman Fellows

Guidelines For Mentoring

Mentoring is an ancient custom. While away in The Odyssey Odysseus’ son Telemachus was guided by his guardian, Mentor. Today the purpose of a mentor is not that different. Mentors are individuals who offer support, encouragement and advice to less experienced others.


In the Entrepreneurship Program, we have always had mentors helping our students, and with time, we have come to recognize what are those best practices that make mentoring especially effective. This note provides a summary of those best practices. 

  1. Develop professionally:This is the goal for the mentee and mentor. The mentee develops as he or she learns more about business, the world, life and themselves. This comes from the mentor, contacts received through the mentor, and the relationship itself. For the mentor, development is about helping bring along the next generation of professionals, maintaining and even promoting the best practices of the occupation, as well as personal development as you learn (and sometimes relearn) more about your profession and yourself as you mentor another.
  2. Promote positive values:There are values essential to a successful mentoring relationship which mirror those in other parts of the working world – openness to learning and change; support of the diversity of views, cultures, and peoples; promotion of a positive relationship, one free of exploitation, discrimination, arbitrariness, or harassment of any sort. It is also important to keep confidentiality – you will each hear corporate and personal secrets, and keeping these safe is essential to maintaining trust.
  3. Learn, share and have fun:We constantly hear that the value of mentoring is most apparent as mentor and mentee share experiences and observations. Sharing and reflecting on each other’s war stories, connections, and resources not only builds bonds, but builds understanding. Mentoring should be something to which the mentor and mentee look forward. Realize that mentoring can take place anywhere – the coffee shop, the golf course, or on the way to or at the professional or trade group meeting.
  4. Set time aside, but be flexible about it: Mentoring should not be a full-time activity for mentor or mentee. It works best with an initial-face-to-face meeting to learn about each other. It can be followed-up by a mix of phone calls, emails, and meetings as issues come up, but it is also good to make sure you’ve been in contact at least once every two weeks during the semester. Be flexible about hearing back, these days, mentors and mentees are often very busy. If it is a rushed time for you, acknowledge the contact from the other, and say when you can get back to them.
  5. When in doubt or facing problems, contact the instructor: Your in-class faculty is always the backup for mentors and mentees. If you have a question about what to do, or how to handle something, you can always contact the instructor. Their contact information is below. If you would not be comfortable contacting the instructor, you can contact the department chair David Kaplan (314-977-7156) or a Business School counselor in the undergraduate (314-977-3800) or MBA (314-977-6221) office.

Jerome A. Katz
Coleman Foundation Professor in Entrepreneurship
John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University
3674 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis MO 63108 USA
314-977-3864w; -1484f; 314-275-8721h; -7513h/f
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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