Career Design Lab

Cornerstones of mentoring

The prerequisites for successful mentoring are commitment, trust, dialogue and goal orientation.
Two students on Aalto Campus
Photo:Aleksi Poutanen.

Each mentoring relationship is individual and unique. However, there are certain conditions behind successful mentoring experiences:


Successful mentoring does not happen overnight. Building trust in the mentoring relationship requires commitment and several meetings. It also calls for preparation, planning and investing time in a joint process. Canceling appointments and not having a direction are pitfalls to avoid.


The key working method in mentoring is a confidential discussion. The purpose is to create an in-depth and interactive dialogue on topics of mutual interest. In order for the dialogue to be fruitful, it is good for both parties to be ready to share their views openly and confidentially. The discussion is most fruitful when both parties feel that they get new perspectives from it and find interaction comfortable and equal.

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Confidentiality is the absolute basis of a mentoring relationship. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss its details at the beginning of the mentoring process. It is worth agreeing on which topics will be left between the mentor and the actor and which topics can be shared with others. In this way, it is easier for both parties to share their issues, when they can trust that sensitive matters will only be disclosed to the other party.

Setting and reviewing goals

The goals give direction to the mentoring process and enrich the experience. However, the mentoring process does not necessarily proceed in the same way throughout the mentoring period. After the initial phase of enthusiasm, there may come a moment when you think about what to do now. This kind of stagnation phase is normal in a mentoring relationship. At such a stage, it is important to think about the process from a new perspective together and write down a few concrete measures. This is where the mentor's role becomes key.

Openness and braveness, there are no stupid questions!

Mentor, Aalto University Mentoring Programme
Tips and tools for mentoring
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