ACP strongly recommends that Mentors and Protégés jointly develop an action plan that focuses on achieving specific goals and objectives over the course of a year. Ideally, pairs will spend time together each month to allow for at least twelve significant discussions of the Protégé’s professional development. Objectives should be reassessed when necessary and the achievement of benchmarks monitored quarterly.
Pairs should consider a variety of activities together throughout the course of the mentorship so goals remain fresh, allowing for a dynamic and sustainable relationship. Activities may range from career-focused to social, and can take place between Mentor and Protégé only or with other Mentor–Protégé pairs. Below are a variety of potential activities, organized by broad quarterly themes, and applicable to both local and national mentorships. Throughout the mentorship, consult the ACP Resource Center online or contact ACP staff for additional suggestions and advice.
Quarter 1: Career Assessment and Objectives
Utilize the Career Assessment Questionnaire early in the mentorship to establish goals and a plan of action to achieve them. Protégés should be honest and realistic about their needs and objectives, and Mentors will need to recognize what they can deliver before committing to a particular outcome. ACP recommends the remainder of the initial quarter be spent building a relationship in which both parties get to know each other beyond their professional experiences and career goals. Protégés may also want to discuss their experiences as service members to help Mentors gain general knowledge about the military.
- Establish a Top 10 list of realistic and achievable goals to be met over the course of the mentorship (You may want to share this and other documents virtually with Google documents or via email.)
- Devise a complete yearlong action plan with strategies for meeting each benchmark
- Discuss current events, news, politics, or other areas of mutual interest
- Go over the intangibles of professional success, such as attire, grooming, organizing your desk/office, and managing your free time
- Talk about mentors or role models each of you has had in the past and how they impacted your life or career
- Describe the most challenging moment in your career and how you dealt with it, or discuss “Things I learned on my own that I wish someone had told me”
- Sign up for a Webinar together, or a class or workshop at a local college or library
- Set up “shadow days” to allow the Protégé to observe the Mentor at work
- Watch a movie or read a book, periodical, magazine, or journal together and discuss (Explore ACP’s Recommended Reading List online.)
- Attend a cultural or athletic event together or try a new activity (e.g., a sport or community service project)
Quarter 2: Networking Enrichment
Many Protégés will benefit from being introduced to others within the Mentor’s corporation—to learn about different lines of work or to meet additional role models who offer alternative perspectives on the Protégé’s objectives. Ideally, the Protégé will be introduced to three other professionals from the Mentor’s corporation during this quarter.
- Attend networking events together at the Mentor’s company, conduct office tours, and introduce the Protégé to coworkers
- Arrange a group sporting event, such as basketball, soccer, or golf with the Mentor’s coworkers
- Prepare for and attend a job fair together; network with other professionals at the fair (Visit the ACP Employment Resources section to learn about career expos and virtual job fairs.)
- Discuss conversation starters that can be used at networking events
- Help the Protégé develop an “elevator pitch”
- Arrange a meeting or conference call with a person at the Mentor’s company that the Mentor does not know or with whom the Mentor has not interacted
- Temporarily swap Protégés with a company colleague for a meeting or conference call, or spend time with other Mentor–Protégé pairs in the company
- Give the Protégé a project or writing assignment and have him or her work through several revisions with colleagues (or writing specialists) at the company
- Learn a new computer application or workflow together; have a colleague or friend give you both a tutorial
Quarter 3: Job Preparation and Career Development
ACP recommends that Mentors offer assistance with various skills required of Protégés who will be applying for a job or building a career. Examples may include: third-party skill assessment, personality typing, résumé review, interview training, and public speaking. Mentors may wish to engage their Human Resources department for assistance with these activities. Pairs should revisit the Career Assessment Questionnaire at the beginning of the third quarter to assess if goals have changed.
- Review professional résumé templates and send the Protégé’s résumé to friends and colleagues for feedback
- Set up/review LinkedIn profiles and virtual CVs together
- Invite the Protégé to give presentations at the Mentor’s office meetings
- Help the Protégé assemble a professional portfolio including work/writing samples; academic transcripts and records; performance evaluations; complimentary emails/praise; letters of recommendation; and copies of diplomas, awards, or certificates
- Watch interviews on YouTube and critique them together
- Set up mock interviews for the Protégé with Human Resources professionals at the Mentor’s company
- Videotape each other conducting a practice interview or speech; review the recording and offer feedback to one another
- Brainstorm ways of highlighting military skills and translating military experience in a manner that is understandable to those without a military background
- Discuss how to negotiate salary, ask for a raise, and make requests of superiors
- Take a personality test together (e.g., Jung or Myers-Briggs) and discuss the results
- Identify three companies the Protégé is interested in; schedule and prepare for informational interviews
Quarter 4: Program Recap and Professional Networking
The final quarter should commence with a review of the Protégé’s original Career Assessment Questionnaire to determine if objectives are on a path toward being realized. The remainder of the quarter may be best spent by the Mentor assisting the Protégé in building a professional network. Ideally, the Mentor will introduce the Protégé to three professionals from outside the Mentor’s corporation. Pairs may wish to discuss ways the Protégé can continue to develop professionally beyond the yearlong program.
- Review the Protégé’s original objectives
- Contact friends and colleagues who can give the Protégé helpful tips about how to hold brief, effective, pitch-oriented conversations
- Set up meetings, meals, or conference calls between the Protégé and professionals outside the Mentor’s company
- Attend a company sales expo, listen to sales pitches, and network with people at the event
- Attend a charity event, wine tasting, or gallery opening (together if possible) and attempt to meet at least two people and learn about their line of work
- Start a collaborative project that requires outreach to professionals at different companies
- Begin developing 2-year, 5-year, and 10-year plans for network growth for both the Protégé and Mentor, and compare them
- Brainstorm ways of keeping your networks fresh and current
At the end of the year, Mentors and Protégés should discuss how often and if they will communicate moving forward. While ACP will not continue to formally monitor and support the relationship, we encourage you to stay in touch, perhaps on a more informal basis (emailing occasionally and scheduling coffee, lunch, or a phone call every few months). The resources offered at acp-usa.org and on ACP AdvisorNet will remain available to participants looking for continued professional development, business advice, and networking.