Mentoring basics

DAAD Integra project Career International and Mentoring Initiative | Professional orientation for international students at the University of Trier is aiming at (professional) development support for the participating mentees. The target group is not only women, but also foreign students who are in the career orientation phase as part of their studies. The orientation is aimed at the public sector, focuses on companies in the region and benefits from the alumni contacts of the International Office and the company contacts of the Career Service. The mentors will include foreign alumni from the University of Trier, as well as employees from international companies in the region. Both groups bring their intercultural life situation or origin and / or professional experience to the mentoring process.

International students should deal with the topic of career orientation before they are writing their bachelor's or master's thesis or even their doctoral thesis. The Career International project aims to sensitize students to the topic at an early stage. International students can therefore apply for mentoring from the third Bachelor semester or from the 2nd Master semester on. The initiative is deliberately open to both Bachelor and Master students - at a very early stage in their studies.. Doctoral candidates can apply at any time for their doctorate. On the one hand, because in many cases a bachelor's degree is already a professional qualification. On the other hand, because the Career Service wants to encourage students at an early stage not only to study, but also to gain professional experience in the form of internships, for example, and to work on their own abilities and skills at an early stage - beyond their studies. Depending on the topic focus of the mentee, participation in mentoring can be useful at different points in time during the course. As a rule, the transition from studies to work is easier with such a conscious preparation.

In addition to regular contacts between mentors and mentees, a number of events are embedded in the program concept. They are intended to expand the knowledge and skills of the mentees (key skills, personal development, career planning) and also to facilitate exchange in smaller or larger (also peer) groups. Through informal and moderated (topic-related) meetings and contacts (social media, mailing lists, for example), students can also work on a personal network. As part of the mentoring initiative, this results in an overall package of a few mandatory and several voluntary appointments, from which the mentees can put together an individual package according to their own needs.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is an instrument of systemic personnel development to promote the next generation of employees. It is often used at universities as a measure of gender equality to promote women scientists in the science system

  • To counteract the disadvantage of women academics, to support them in active career planning,
  • to open up career-relevant networks for them,
  • to increase the number of women in professorships and management positions. 

More generally, mentoring is understood as a constellation in which a mentor (a person with (more) experience), a mentee (a person with less experience), in a one-to-one relationship in his / her goals supports. The aim of mentoring is to further develop the mentee in terms of personality and skills and to promote his / her professional development. As a rule, not only the mentee benefits from such a relationship, but also the mentor, e.g. through a new look at supposed experiences and knowledge.

Requirements for a successful mentoring relationship

A mentoring relationship can only function successfully on the basis of trust and respect. It takes into account the individual needs and expectations as well as the current situation and the time budget of the people involved and is based on regular contact between mentor and mentee during the mentoring phase. There must be no dependent relationship between mentor and mentee (e.g. employee - boss). Both also take part in the measure voluntarily. For mentoring to be successful, the mentor and mentee must be able to rely on having a reliable and motivated partner who, among other things, keeps appointments and agreements. Expectations and agreements should be recorded by both sides at the beginning of the relationship in order to give each other a clear framework and also to see the limits of mentoring. At this early point in time, it can be helpful for the mentee to jointly assess their position (determine strengths / weaknesses, explore potential). Jointly developed (short-term, long-term) objectives (e.g. looking for an internship, preparing application documents for a specific application, writing a thesis as part of a company contact) make it possible to measure at the end of the mentoring phase how much the mentee feels about it Aim with the support of the mentor who approached the mentor. In addition, the mentor and mentee should agree in what form and how often they will contact each other (personal meetings, email, telephone ...) and in what form they want to give each other feedback. The active part in the relationship is incumbent on the mentees. They keep in touch and make suggestions on the form of support they need to develop their personal career strategies. In addition to the empirical knowledge that the mentor has in advance of the mentee, the mentor also supports the mentee in a very practical way by arranging contacts, supporting the search for an internship, accompanying the mentor at the workplace, joint Excursions etc. (Further information: Forum Mentoring - Federal Association for Mentoring in Science: Mentoring with Quality, p. 24 ff.)