What is a mentor?

A mentor is an individual with expertise and has access to experts who can help the Mentee successfully achieve the business or career objectives.  

A Tech-Prize mentor specifically has two primary objectives for the Mentee. 

  1. The Tech-Prize Competition related function establishes the Mentor as a coach who provides advice to enhance the Mentee’s performance in the competition and development of the Idea for success beyond the Tech-Prize event.
  2. The Mentor will also act as a role model and provide a support system for the Mentee. 

Both objectives provide explicit and implicit lessons related to professional development and general work-life balance. Below are some of the possible needs of mentees, roles and characteristics of mentors, and settings for the relationship, which can be combined to create a wide variety of relationships.

Mentee Needs

  • Guidance in a general or specific area of their “Idea”
  • Series of questions or issues
  • Ethical and moral guidance
  • Assistance in navigating the competition stages
  • Professional identity development guidance

Roles and Characteristics of Mentors

  • Acts as an experienced role model
  • Provides acceptance, encouragement, and moral support
  • Provides wisdom, advice, counsel, coaching
  • Acts as a sponsor in professional organizations and supports networking efforts
  • Assists with the navigation of professional settings, institutions, structures, and politics
  • Facilitates the development of their “Idea.”
  • Challenges and encourages appropriately to facilitate growth
  • Provides nourishment, caring, and protection
  • Accepts assistance from Mentee in Mentor’s professional responsibilities within appropriate limits
  • Enjoys the opportunity to pass on their wisdom and knowledge and collaboration with early career professionals


Four stages of Mentoring

in the initiation stage, Mentor and Mentee enter into a mentoring relationship. We have carefully matched the current slate of Mentors with the candidates based on demographic variables and common professional interests. 

  1. The domain of the Candidate’s Idea submission
  2. Mentors skill-sets
  3. We avoided possible existing relationships between Mentor and Mentee. If you happen to have an existing relationship with each other that may impact the rational exchange of ideas, please let us know, and we can change the assignments.  

During the first couple of meetings, both Mentor and Mentees should explore the relationship and evaluate the mentor-mentee match’s appropriateness. This assessment can be done by

  1. Introductory call to get to know each other
  2. Articulate and discuss each others’ expectations from the mentoring program
  3. Agree on frequency, format, and schedule of meetings. We recommend a minimum of one session every other week via a web-based meeting software such as zoom, Google Meet, etc. 
  4. Mentor and Mentee review and revise the initial application that we have provided in a word document format.

The cultivation stage is the primary stage of learning and development. During the cultivation stage, the Mentee learns and benefits from the Mentor and the mentorship program’s resources. The key activities during this phase are :

  1. Mentor assigns challenging assignments to the Mentee to develop the “Idea” and test its feasibility.
  2. Activities to maximizes the Mentee’s exposure and visibility in the organization. 
  3. Actively sponsors Mentee through promotions in Tech-Prize or other social events and positive verbal recognition. 
  4. provide valuable advice on how to thrive and survive
  5. Establish an interpersonal bond. The Mentor accepts and confirms the Mentee’s professional identity, and the relationship matures into a strong friendship.

The cultivation stage is generally a positive one for both Mentor and Mentee. The Mentor teaches the Mentee valuable lessons gained from the Mentor’s experience and expertise. The Mentee may also teach the Mentor valuable lessons related to new technologies, new methodologies, and emerging issues in the field.

The separation stage generally describes the end of a mentoring relationship. The relationship may end for a number of reasons. 

  1. Mentor has completed guiding the Mentee in his or her domain. Or the Mentor feels that Mentee will benefit from a change of the Mentor.
  2. The Mentee may want to establish an independent identity.
  3.  The Mentor may send the Mentee off on his or her own the way a parent sends off an adult child. 

If both parties do not accept the relationship’s end, this stage can be stressful, with one party unwilling to accept the loss. Problems between the Mentor and Mentee arise when only one party wants to terminate the mentoring relationship. Mentees may feel abandoned, betrayed, or unprepared if they perceive the separation to be premature. Mentors may feel betrayed or used if the Mentee no longer seeks their counsel or support.

During the redefinition stage, both Mentor and Mentee recognize that their relationship can continue but will not be the same as their mentoring relationship. If both parties successfully negotiate through the separation stage, the relationship can evolve into a collegial relationship or social friendship. Unlike the cultivation stage, the relationship’s focus is not on the Mentee’s participation in the Tech-Prize competition. The former Mentor may establish mentoring relationships with new mentees. Likewise, the former Mentee may serve as a mentor to others.


Mentor Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Do provide mentorship only in your areas of expertise. Suggest other mentors as resources outside your expertise or when the attempted mentoring relationship is not working
  2. Don’t take on more mentees than is realistically manageable.
  3. Do indicate an openness to being a mentor. Be accessible to the mentee.
  4. Don’t treat mentees as free labor.
  5. Do maintain clear, distinct boundaries with the mentee. Set clear expectations
  6. Don’t make personal requests of the mentee.
  7. Do treat the mentee professionally and in an ethical fashion. Be thoughtful and sensitive about the mentee’s feelings and time
  8. Don’t gossip about the mentee.
  9. Do model professional behavior.
  10. Don’t micromanage the mentee. Provide advice and counsel, but do not direct the mentee to take specific actions.

Mentee’s Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Do set specific goals and expectations for the mentoring relationship. Communicate what you want from the relationship. Maintain distinct boundaries and understand what the mentor expects.
  2. Don’t expect the mentor to make decisions for you. Learn to resolve problems and issues independently of the mentor.
  3. Do be proactive. It is the mentee’s responsibility to maintain contact with the mentor and schedule future interactions.
  4. Don’t take advantage of the mentor. Respect the mentor’s time and help.
  5. Do treat the mentor professionally and in an ethical fashion. Be thoughtful and sensitive about the mentor’s feelings and time.
  6. Don’t gossip about the mentor.