On Being a Good Mentee

by Ashley Crace, former Head Editor, INALJ West Virginia

On Being a Good Mentee

AshleyCrace1A mentor’s expertise is priceless.  During graduate school, your job search, or your first years as a librarian or information professional a mentor can provide vital guidance and support.  Mentors may be found among professors, internship or volunteer supervisors, colleagues, and through structured mentor programs in professional associations.  I was very fortunate to find my wonderful mentor in another student and co-fellow in my MLIS program.

However, this post is not about how to find a mentor; rather, it is about being a good mentee.  There are many qualities and skills that are valuable in a mentee, but I’ve narrowed these down to the three qualities and skills that I have found most important as a mentee.

A good mentee should:

  1. Listen

        Listening is a skill.  It is one that can and should be practiced.  And who better to practice with than your mentor?  A mentor is providing insight and guidance for free and deserves the respect  of a mentee who really listens.

  1. Learn to take constructive criticism

        Taking criticism is easier said than done.  If you really want to improve, you need to learn to take  constructive criticism, apply it, and be better for it.  Don’t take constructive criticism personally.   A suggestion that you refine your resume is not an attack on you as a person; it just means that you should refine your resume.  Learning to  take constructive criticism will help you make the most of your mentor/mentee relationship; it will also make you more empathetic and skillful when giving criticism to someone else, now or in a future position.

  1. Express gratitude

You are (or should be) grateful for your mentor’s guidance. Have you communicated your gratitude?  Say thank you, send thank you cards, be sincere, and remember that this is a reciprocal relationship.  Your mentor may ask for and value your input, feedback, and support.


previously published on 5/21/13

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.