The business mentor is the employee who coordinates the student leaning at the worksite. The mentor should do the following:

  • Assist the student in setting realistic, obtainable goals.
  • Keep personal discussions to a minimum. The mentor is the student's coworker, not parent.
  • Understand that the process of the relationship is just as important as guiding the student through a job task
  • Try to actively engage the student in the workplace.
  • As the relationship progresses, try to refrain from selling your student on doing something and concentrate more on encouraging them to want to do it on their own.
  • Become a great listener. The best way to establish a good relationship with your student is to encourage them to talk, to draw them out, and to ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" response.

Mentor Responsibilities

  • Interview and select student(s) for employment without regard to gender, race, color, national origin, creed, or disability.
  • Provide early and thorough orientation of the student to job duties and responsibilities.
  • Work with the teacher-coordinator and student in developing a training plan.
  • Provide feedback to the teacher-coordinator on job performance through telephone calls and/or on-site visits of the teacher-coordinator.
  • Provide adequate supervision on the job.
  • Provide an appropriate and safe work environment.
  • Pay progressive wages if paid internship or cooperative education.
  • Complete a written evaluation jointly with the teacher-coordinator each grading period.

Effective Mentoring Strategies

  • Positive Attitude: Encourage the student to examine beliefs and ideals in an effort to establish personal values and goals.
  • Open-mindedness: Encourage the student to keep an open mind to different ideas.
  • Interrelations: The interactions between mentor and the student should be situations of sharing, caring, and empathizing.
  • Creative Problem Solving: Encourage the student to use creative problem-solving processes.
  • Effective Communications: Encourage the student to be an attentive listener and an assertive inquirer.
  • Discovery: Encourage the student to be an independent thinker.
  • Strengths and Uniqueness: Encourage the student to recognize individual strengths and uniqueness and to build upon them.
  • Confidence: Assist the student in developing self-confidence.
  • Awareness: Stress that the student must be aware of the environment, be intuitive, be problem-sensitive, and be ready to make the most of opportunities.
  • Risk-taking: Encourage the student to be a risk-taker and to be an active participant, not a spectator.
  • Flexibility: Share with the student the importance of being flexible and adaptable in attitudes and actions, looking for alternatives, and seeing situations/persons from different perspectives.

Instructional Behaviors of a Mentor

  • Explain how to perform a task correctly. Explanation may accompany demonstration or be provided separately. It sets performance criteria, points out what problems are likely to occur, and identifies possible problem-solving strategies.
  • Demonstrate task performance by doing the task while the student observes. While performing the task, the mentor points out important features and checks the student understanding by asking questions and encouraging the student to ask questions.
  • Explain why a task is performed a certain way. A mentor must explain why the task is performed according to certain specifications, provide information about the business management or scientific principles underlying the procedures, and explain how the task relates to other tasks.
  • Monitor and critique the student's attempts to do the task. While monitoring the student's performance, the mentor gives clear and immediate feedback. Although monitoring and feedback are continual, the interval between instances increases as the student gains competence, and the mentor encourages the student to monitor his/her own performance and to seek help when difficulties arise.
  • Modeling problem solving by thinking aloud and demonstrating problem-solving strategies. Modeling includes explaining what questions the student can ask him/herself when problems arise, identifying the kinds and sources of information the student might need to find a solution, and pointing out important information or cues that the mentor is relying on to guide problem solving.
  • Initiate the student to the workplace culture. The WBL program brings adolescences into an adult social system, a new culture with its own rules.
  • Advise the student on career directions and opportunities. Career advice may be information about education and training requirements for a particular field, introducing students to others who can share their experiences, or expanding the student's conceptions of career domains.
  • Help resolve problems. A good mentor helps the student resolve problems encountered in the workplace.

Listening Recipe

  • Avoid being judgmental: Concentrate on the message and not the person.
  • Do not be insincere in your listening: If you fake attention, it will be evident.
  • Listen for ideas and not just facts: Look for the big meaning in what is said.
  • Avoid communication killers: Analyze your responses and be sure to avoid action words that will cut off communication.
  • Put what you are hearing into words: After you have listened closely, try to put what the other person is saying and feeling into words and see how they react.
  • Get agreement: Communication involves knowing when and how to listen as well as how to use words.

Praising Recipe

  • Be immediate: Catch them doing something right, right now!!
  • Be sincere: If you cannot be sincere, say nothing.
  • Be specific: Concentrate specifically on what was done, not on generalities.
  • Show the benefit: Ask yourself, "How does this effort help the student?"
  • State your own reaction: People want to know how you really feel.
  • Ask if you can help: Offer your assistance. Do not order it!
  • Praise in public: Correct in private. This will encourage a repeat of good behavior.

A Few Final Thoughts

  • Keep a watchful eye: Watch for signs of boredom or indifference. Try to create opportunities and experiences that foster discovery of new ideas and development of new skills.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Check periodically to see how well and how much the student is learning. Ask open-ended questions such as, "What has been most challenging to you this past week?"
  • Provide support without rescuing: Too often mentors say "Let me show you how to do that," when they should be asking, "What do you think you should do next?" It takes patience and courage to stand back and let a student risk failure. However, the most significant growth happens through the discomfort of grappling with a new situation.
  • Avoid messages of perfection: The greatest gift a mentor can give students is to be authentic. When you make a mistake, you can show how you learn from that mistake and are more competent as a result. Make sure that the student understands that you are still a learner yourself.