GovLoop Mentors: First Steps to Success

GovLoop runs a first-of-its-kind Mentors Program that seeks to connect rising stars with seasoned professionals across government. We’ve facilitated nearly 250 pairings since 2011. The message below is for people who were fortunate enough to make a match. In the spirit of community and knowledge sharing, we’re posting it so that all members can observe the process. If you’ve not signed up yet, feel free to do so at


Congratulations on finalizing your GovLoop Mentors match!

Now, it’s time to officially launch your mentoring relationship.

Step 1 — Get Acquainted

The first mentoring meeting is critical. The most important part of beginning your relationship and the mentoring process is to get to know each other and clarify your overall mentoring goals. Introduce yourselves and find out four things about each other:

  • Explore your commonalities. Talk about the number of years you have in the industry. Determine whether you work for the same organization, have similar career paths, possess common skills, and so on.
  • Look for uniqueness. Share what specialized knowledge you bring to your partnership. For example, do you speak a foreign language, do you have military experience, etc.
  • Share hobbies. Tell your partner about your hobbies. Describe what you like to do when you are not working.
  • Explore work styles. Identify whether your personalities and/or your behavioral work styles are similar or different. For example, are you the type of person who will pay attention to quality and detail or do you prefer the big picture? Are you shy and quiet or do you tend to be outgoing and sociable?

Take the time early in your relationship to get to know each other—at both a personal and professional level. The effort will help you earn your partner’s trust and can go a long way towards helping you successfully launch your relationship.

Step 2 — Discuss Your Overall Mentoring Goals

For the mentee, this step provides an ideal opportunity to help your mentor understand your specific career goals and opens the door to describing your vision of the future:

  • Where do you want to be three to five years from today?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What is your niche?
  • What type of reputation have you built?

Once you have given your mentor a good understanding of your vision, it is equally important to spend time addressing your current skills and abilities as they relate to your overall career goals:

  • What are your three greatest strengths?
  • What areas offer the greatest opportunity for improvement?

Close this conversation with your top three mentoring goals so both you and your mentor can begin to set the proper expectations and objectives for the partnership:


Step 3 — Create a Mentoring Agreement

The mentoring agreement is a golden opportunity to clarify expectations and define boundaries. There is nothing quite as important as agreeing up front on what you plan to accomplish. Define in advance your meeting schedule and create your confidentiality agreement:

  • Establish a meeting schedule:
    • Where?
    • When?
    • How long?
    • Frequency?
  • Determine who will initiate meetings.
  • Consider geographical differences and make accommodations.
  • Establish your confidentiality agreement (“Everything we talk about stays between the two us.”)

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Danielle Wilsey

Just received confirmation for my first mentor – thanks so much for these pointers for our first upcoming meeting!

Celeste Hand-Cunningham

I am so excited about being in this program. I am sure that my ‘Mentor Match’ will be a relationship that will help me not only grow my career but my personal goals