What Comes Next? Thriving After Your Formal Mentorship Program

Mentorship is a pivotal component of professional growth and development, offering unparalleled opportunities for learning, networking, and career advancement. While structured corporate or association mentoring programs typically last between 3-6 months, with some extending up to 12 months, the culmination of the formal timeline doesn’t signify the end of your growth or the relationships you’ve built. Here’s how you can continue to nurture these connections and keep the momentum going.

Stay Connected

If your mentoring relationship was a great fit, consider staying in touch on a quarterly basis. Meeting every three months allows you to maintain a connection without overwhelming each other’s schedules. Ensure these meetings have a purpose—set specific goals and expectations. Reflect on the objectives you had during your formal mentorship, evaluate your current position, and adjust your goals as necessary. Document these in a shared repository or a tool like Lattitude to keep both parties aligned and accountable.

Revisit and Revise Goals

Your initial goals at the beginning of the mentorship program were likely aligned with your career aspirations at the time. As you evolve professionally, so too should your goals. Use the conclusion of the formal program as an opportunity to revisit and, if needed, revise your goals. This reassessment ensures that your ongoing relationship with your mentor remains relevant and focused on your current needs and future aspirations.

Network Within the Program

Before your mentorship program concludes, take the opportunity to meet and mingle with other mentors and mentees. This networking can lead to valuable introductions and insights. Your program administrators, who have a good understanding of the participants and their strengths, can facilitate these connections. Approach this outreach informally and make your initial request straightforward, respecting the busy schedules of all involved. For instance, you might send an email along the lines of:

  • “Hi [Name],
  • [Program Admin Name] suggested I reach out to introduce myself and share my experiences with the [Program Name] mentorship program.
  • I’ve just completed the program and am eager to hear about your journey and what you found most valuable.
  • Would you be available for a brief 15-20 minute chat sometime next week?
  • I’m free at [Option 1] or [Option 2], but I’m flexible if those times don’t work for you. I look forward to potentially connecting and learning from your experiences.
  • Thank you for considering my request.”

Seek Feedback and Offer It in Return

Feedback is a gift that continues to give long after the mentorship program ends. Ask your mentor for parting thoughts on areas of improvement and strengths. This feedback can be pivotal as you pivot to the next stage of your career. Similarly, offer your mentor feedback on their guidance and support. This reciprocal exchange can strengthen your relationship and provide valuable insights for both parties.

Engage with Alumni Networks

Many mentorship programs have alumni networks that you can join upon completion. These networks offer continued learning opportunities, networking events, and the chance to mentor new participants. Staying engaged with the program as an alum not only helps you stay connected to a valuable professional community but also allows you to give back and support others in their career journey.

  • If your group does not yet have an “mentoring alumni network,” then it may be a cool stretch assignment to take on. This shows initiative and some leadership capability and although it may add a fair amount of time in the set up process, it gives you a chance to meet and mingle with each of the mentors and also mentees along the way!

Recap and Next Steps

The conclusion of a formal mentorship program doesn’t mean the end of your growth or the relationships you’ve built. Instead, it marks the beginning of an independent yet guided phase in your professional journey. Stay connected with your mentor by scheduling quarterly meetings with clear goals and expectations. Revisit and revise your goals to ensure they align with your evolving career aspirations, utilizing tools like Lattitude for documentation and alignment. Network within the program to expand your professional circle and gain new insights. Seek and offer feedback to continue learning and growing. Lastly, engage with alumni networks to stay connected and give back to the community.

As you navigate this transition, consider reflecting on and discussing several key topics to enrich your professional development:

  • Review your career map to evaluate your progress and adjust your trajectory as needed.
  • Ask for feedback on your career map from your mentor, focusing on areas for improvement and opportunities for growth.
  • Reference Pete Schramm’s book, “Pathfinders,” particularly the concepts of a career map and Personal Board of Advisors, for strategies to navigate your career path.
  • Discuss the reasons behind transitions in your mentor’s professional journey, exploring why they entered or exited specific roles.
  • Inquire about lessons learned throughout their career, asking what they wish they had known sooner and if there’s anything they would change if given the chance.

By engaging in these discussions and actions, you’ll not only extend the value of your mentorship experience but also continue to build a robust foundation for your ongoing professional development. These steps will ensure that the end of the formal mentorship program is just the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning, growth, and meaningful connections.

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