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Creating A Mentor Program

Developing a mentor program is one way of formalizing the relationship between individuals in a professional SHRM chapter (mentors) and students in a college chapter (protègès). Mentor programs offer a structured setting in which to develop beneficial one-on-one relationships between students and professionals. Acting as a friend, a teacher, and a guide to the real world, mentors have the opportunity to encourage and advise students by sharing their own experiences and knowledge of the HR profession. This brochure provides a model of how to organize a working program, within the SHRM chapter network, to assist students with their career development and transitions.

Benefits of a Mentor Program

A successful mentor program provides opportunities for students to...

  • Explore the world of work through interaction with professionals in the HR career of their choice.
  • Gain an experienced HR practitioner's perspective on applying textbook concepts to real-life situations.
  • Familiarize themselves with corporate protocol.
  • Identify long-term professional development needs.
  • Realize the value of networking.
  • Develop a meaningful professional relationship over a specified period of time.
A mentor program benefits professionals by allowing them to....
  • Contribute to the professional development of the future HR workforce.
  • Identify potential interns and new hires for their organization.
  • Assist students in beginning successful careers.
  • Give something back to the profession.

How to Organize the Program

As you organize your mentor program, you will first want to develop some basic guidelines. Who will be eligible to participate? How long will the mentor relationship last? How will students and professionals be matched?

An individual should be designated to coordinate the program. This person can hold an office such as mentor coordinator, mentor director, or chairman, mentor programs. A committee also may be formed as needed to assist the coordinator in implementing the program. Enrollment forms should be developed for those interested in participating. Mentors will usually be assigned for a specified amount of time such as one semester or one academic year. The time period should be decided in advance and communicated to potential mentors so they understand what their time commitment will be.

Once established, the mentor committee or coordinator will do the following:

1. Establish requirements for participation in the program and create enrollment forms. These will vary from chapter to chapter.

Sample requirements

  • Students: Must be an active student chapter member and/or national SHRM member.
    Must actively participate and support student chapter events.
    Must be a full-time or part-time student in good standing.
    Must complete a mentor application.

    Mentors: Must be an active member of professional chapter and/or national SHRM.
    Must actively participate and support professional chapter events.
    Must be a current HR practitioner.
    Must be willing to commit to the mentor program for a specified period of time.
Sample enrollment forms
  • See sample mentor and student enrollment forms at back of brochure.
2. Establish specific mentor activities and guidelines.

Sample guidelines

  • Mentor must make initial contact with protègè within one week of assignment.
  • Mentors must communicate with proteges at least once every two weeks.
  • Mentors and proteges must complete at least two of the suggested activities. (see Suggested Activities list at the end of this document.)
  • Protègès must attend group meetings of all student proteges.
  • Protègès must keep a mentor program journal.
3. Acquire mentors and students for the program.
  • Publicize the mentor program to the sponsoring professional chapter through the chapter newsletter, announcements at meetings, letters to members, and personal contacts.
  • Provide an enrollment form that professionals can complete and return to indicate their interest in being a mentor.
  • Approach practitioners who have hosted students for other activities such as Shadow Days, company tours, or internships and offer them the opportunity to become a mentor.
  • Publicize the program to the student chapter and provide application forms to interested students.
4. Match mentors with proteges.
  • Design a system to match students and professionals based on factors such as mutual areas of professional interest, schedules, geographic proximity, etc.
  • Conduct interviews and/or an orientation meeting to clarify areas of interest and commitment level of participants.
  • Make assignments and provide participants with a brief biography of their new mentor or protègè.
  • Establish a date by which mentors and protègès should make contact.
5. Monitor and evaluate the results of the program.
  • In order to ensure that the mentor program is meeting its objectives, it is important to maintain open communication with all participants and to actively solicit feedback on the results.
  • Follow-up with participants to ensure that mentors and proteges have made initial contact by suggested deadline date.
  • Request a written summary of their mentor experience from all participants.
  • Conduct periodic group meetings or socials and discuss ways to improve the program.
  • Conduct year-end interviews or group meetings to ask for program feedback.
  • Have all participants complete a program evaluation form at the end of the program.
  • Use the information obtained through these meetings and evaluations to assist current participants in achieving their goals for the program and to improve the mentor program for future mentors and protègès.

Suggested Guidelines for Mentor/Protègè Meetings

Phone Contact

  • Mentor calls protègè to arrange initial meeting and discuss scheduling.
  • Protègè calls mentor to arrange joint attendance at chapter meetings.
  • Protègè calls mentor as needed for advice on HR-related course work and career direction.
1st Meeting
Protègè: Explain why you are interested in the HR profession.
Discuss your perceptions and expectations of the mentor relationship.
Ask questions.
Plan future meetings and contacts.

Mentor: Discuss your current job responsibilities.
Explain how you got into the profession.
Discuss the necessary academic and personal preparation needed for your career.
Share your feelings on the importance of networking and continued professional development.

2nd Meeting

Protègè spends a day "shadowing" the mentor during a typical working day.

3rd Meeting

Discussion of the shadowing experience. Completion of a suggested mentor/protègè activity. (See list below.)

4th Meeting

Discussion of the mentor experience.
Discussion of the value of additional meetings or contact.
Completion of a suggested mentor/protègè activity (See list below).

Suggested Mentor/Protègè Activities

  • Lunch with mentor, protègè, and several other HR professionals to discuss everyday challenges practitioners encounter in their work.
  • Protègè attends a company training program with mentor.
  • Mentor and protègè discuss proper business and telephone etiquette and corporate protocol.
  • Protègè attends a safety committee meeting with mentor.
  • Protègè attends a company staff meeting.
  • Mentor and protègè attend a professional SHRM chapter meeting together. Mentor introduces protègè to other HR professionals.
  • Protègè accompanies mentor to other professional meetings attended. Mentor discusses common employee grievances and issues such as sexual harassment and substance abuse. Explains how they are handled.
  • Protègè observes the development of a special project such as a wellness program or health fair.
  • Mentor reviews protègè's resume and offers suggestions for improvement.
  • Protègè observes a day of recruiting.

Sample Forms

Mentor Program Enrollment Form

Mentor Profile


Job Title:


Office Phone:

Home Phone:

I prefer to be contacted at work ____ at home ____.

Best time to call:

Organization Address:

Type of Organization:

HR Experience

Brief Description of Job Responsibilities:

Areas of HR Expertise:


Professional Certifications/Memberships Held:

College/University Attended:


Please return completed form to (insert name here).

Mentor Program Enrollment Form

Protègè Profile



Home Phone:

Work Phone:

Best time to call:


Current Job/Internship:

Offices Held in SHRM Chapter:

HR Interests

Area(s) of HR that you would like to learn more about:

___ Compensation & Benefits

___ HR Research

___ Employee & Labor Relations

___ Training & Development

___ Employment Practices

___ Workplace Health & Safety

___ Workplace Diversity

___ Unknown/ Any of the above

HR Work/Internship/Volunteer Experience:

Why do you want to participate in the Mentor Program?



Year in School:


Expected Graduation Date:

Please return completed form to (insert name here).


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