11 ways to get the most out of Office Hours
The most valuable Office Hours sessions focus on covering topics that are substantive, specific, and have defined outcomes. Here are our top 11 ideas for why mentees might reach out to book time with mentors and how to achieve something life changing...all through an exchange that's fast and free!
1. Dry run an interview before getting in front of a big meeting with a potential employer. Get your head around what they’ll want to know, what to highlight from your experience, and/or how to best position your positives or maybe even overcome your weaknesses. Prepare in a way that mitigates your risks and makes the most of your opportunity.
2. Review or build out your resume with someone who has experience in the field you want to pursue and has a strong perspective on how to best position who you are and what you’ve done to get the right job.
3. Understand a day-in-the-life of a few different roles that you might be interested in pursuing, getting a sense of whether one might be a better fit for what you like to do and your strengths vs. another. Every job has fun and not-so-fun pieces of it, so it’s great to get an honest view of that from someone who knows.
4. Explore careers by gaining a better sense of the pros and cons of various industries and roles, compensation ranges, lifestyle and travel requirements, the best firms within an industry, the typical career path or evolution within a role, and more.
5. Prep for success prior to a big meeting or presentation. Bounce off the big ideas you plan to pitch or a hairy challenge you're trying to solve to someone with experience and unbiased perspective who can help you vet your presentation and ensure it's rock solid.
6. Chart your course for the future by getting a point of view about which classes to take to best prepare for a particular career path and which education programs will put you in the best position to hit the ground running with what you ultimately want to do.
7. Connect with a peer to understand what her life is like in a similar role but different company or another part of the world. Explore your challenges and whether she’s shared them. Determine how she’s overcome obstacles and found solutions to advance and evolve.
8. Engage in reverse mentoring, capitalizing on the fresh point of view of someone who's younger and might bring something new to your work with an industry, role, product, or marketplace. Take advantage of the opportunity to understand a new technology or social platform, the latest in music or fashion, or just gain a better understanding of how younger workers and consumers think and do
9. Learn about how a working mom achieved the balance, taking care of her kids and finding her way as a parent while continuing to stay in the game and advance over time.
10. Get perspective on whether it makes sense to stay with a job or move on, gaining honest and objective feedback from an experienced professional who's been in your shoes and sees the bigger picture around the pros and cons of continuity and change.
11. Figure out how to get back in the game after taking time off to have a family or for other reasons.
Tips for Maximizing Office Hours
Be efficient with time. Before your call, get prepared to dive right into the topic and outcome you want to achieve. Have your resume and/or a relevant list of questions ready, or whatever makes sense.
- Follow-up calls aren’t prohibited, but they are discouraged. Focus on having a discretely defined goal for the conversation: the question you need answered, the document you need edited, the interview messaging you need evaluated. If your mentor offers to do a follow-up call and it makes sense on both sides, that’s great. Otherwise, focus on making the most of your session and kick ass from there.
- This isn’t a sales call. The purpose of these exchanges is to provide a valuable connection that enables one woman to capitalize on the expertise of another. As a result, selling to your mentor is forbidden. Your mentor is being generous with her time and insights to help you further your career, success, and happiness. There’s a time and place for everything, and this is neither the time nor the place to sell her something.
- Be honest & avoid sugarcoating. This is the right platform for speaking freely and being honest and frank about things as they are. Ensure the mentee really knows the score and is well prepared for the good and the bad of whatever she’s about to face.
- Be actionable. Do your best to provide specific advice that can be achieved by the mentee. Help her focus on what she can control to drive her success and suggest concrete initiatives she can pursue in the near term to drive good outcomes with immediate and future endeavors.
- Stick to the time. We know you’re busy and want to conserve your value for as many women as possible who can benefit from your expertise and advice. Avoid having any one woman monopolize your time, instead focusing on the power and impact of efficient exchanges, or what we might call “surgical strikes.” This kind of discipline around using other people’s time is an important skill set in the workplace for emerging women, so it’s good to start understanding it in this context.