Mentoring: It Works If You Work It

You work hard every day. More importantly, you get things done.

But what about career advancement? What about the next opportunity?

If you heard about a special program that could increase your chances for a promotion by five times, would you give it a look? If the program made you feel more confident and more valued, would you sign up?

What if the opportunity is a mentoring program?

Federally Employed Women (FEW) has launched a mentoring program to support the professional development of emerging leaders, as well as expand their networks and skills.

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience where valuable knowledge, invaluable experience and astute insight is shared. It offers growth opportunities on professional and personal levels.

Consider the research:

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” 

— Oprah Winfrey

Mentoring programs are a two-way street that can lead to mutually beneficial relationships on a professional and personal level. However, both parties need to have the right mindset for the magic to work.

For example, mentees should realize that mentors are giving up their time and energy to help them. Consequently, mentees should bring four things to ensure that the engagement will be a productive success:

Flexibility – Mentees should clear their schedules and make it easy for them to meet with their assigned mentor. This engagement is the beginning of a long-term relationship. While relationships can be time-consuming and inconvenient at times, the right ones are worth the trouble.

Accountability – Do what you say and say what you mean. Mentees should be fully committed to holding up their end of the bargain. Completing certain tasks by specific dates means you are onboard with the overall effort. Remember, the objective is to advance your career, so follow-through on your part will be required.

Maturity – Healthy relationships include forthright feedback and, in some cases, constructive criticism. Mentees must understand that these discussions come from a good place with the intention of advancing their current standing as a professional.

Game Plan – As a mentee, you are responsible for where your mentoring experience goes. What do you want to develop? Where is your career going? What’s your five-, 10- and 20-year plan? Your mentor will bring a lot of life experience and workplace knowledge to the table, but only you know the desired outcome.

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” 

— Whoopi Goldberg

Aside from mentees, mentors also need to bring several things to the engagement. While the program may center on the mentees, mentors have the opportunity to improve their leadership and communications skills, as well as their network. Let’s face it: Every time you teach another, you teach yourself.

Mentors should make sure to bring the following:

Active Listening – Most people believe communications is all about talking when most of it is about listening and observing. Mentors should focus their attention on their mentee to provide the best outcome. Make the time to fully understand what your mentee wants and needs before sharing your own path.

Feedback – Your background and expertise are the reasons you were invited to the party. Please provide meaningful thoughts through antidotes, stories and experiences so your mentee can learn through you.

Confidentiality – During the course of the program, there could be sensitive information shared. Be mindful. Be kind. Keep it to yourself. Leverage any insight to advance your mentee’s best interest.

Accountability – Mentors also must be accountable to make the program work. Everyone’s time is precious. Commit to the deadlines and dates. Fulfill your deliverables. This is the beginning of a long-term relationship.

“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”

 — Maya Angelou

FEW’s exclusive, annual mentoring program begins with the competitive selection of FEW members to participate followed by 12 months of focused learning objectives, webinars, training sessions and direct mentorship by senior leaders with the federal government. To be eligible for the program, a mentee candidate should be a current federal employee and an active FEW member who holds an elected or appointed position at the regional or chapter level.

Mentee applications must be submitted from April 1, 2021 through April 15, 2021. Chosen candidates will be notified in June, and the 12-month event will kick off at the 2021 National Training Program on July 26-30. Mentee graduation service will be held at the 2022 National Training Program the following July.

For more information about the program, prospective mentees and mentors should visit

You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself.” 

— Diana Ross