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Mentoring on Sallyportal

As an Owl Career Mentor you are a guide and resource who shares your education and professional experience to help pave the way for students to succeed at Rice and beyond.  You may participate as much or as little as you wish, whenever and wherever you wish — your time commitment is entirely up to you.  

As an Owl Career Mentor, you play several roles, including:
•    Motivator:  Expresses belief and confidence in the mentee’s abilities, and encourages the mentee to try new things.
•    Resource:  Teaches and advises the mentee on how to make professional contacts, and introduces the mentee to new people, places or ideas.
•    Supporter:  Encourages open and honest dialogue, and listens to and responds to the needs of the mentee.
•    Coach:  Helps the mentee to develop and work to achieve realistic and meaningful goals.

Tips for Being a Mentor

Listen first before sharing. After you accept a mentoring request, expect that the student will follow with a message. Understand your mentee's needs and priorities at the moment. There may be many things to discuss, but it is important to focus on what/why your mentee is asking for your help. 

Let your mentee own the next step. Give options to your mentee rather than telling them what to do. Bounce ideas back and forth with your mentee. Make sure you are only providing your thoughts and feedback instead of directly telling your mentee what to do. Enlighten the path but let them choose the next step. They are more likely to follow through.

Be willing to address teachable moments. When your mentee makes a mistake, let them know. You might be the first one to tell them that they're doing it wrong. If you're not comfortable bringing it up or need help in how to approach it, contact Michelle Passo at the Center for Career Development (CCD) at 713-348-5044 to discuss next steps.

Encourage continued conversation. Long-term mentoring often happens when the mentee feels that their continued outreach is welcomed. At the end of your conversation, invite them to stay in touch. If you know that they have a project or an interview or a decision that they are making soon, follow up and inquire what happened. During midterms and final exam time, send a quick hello and good luck and maybe a study tip to help boost their confidence. This opens many doors to follow-up mentoring conversations. It will also teach them what proper follow-up and relationship building means.

Model professional behavior. Students can learn from you what professional behavior looks like. Show them through your writing what a business correspondence looks like. Show them the importance of honoring one's commitments and appointments and limit rescheduling or running late. If you cannot honor your commitment, show them what it's like to accept responsibility and apologize gracefully.

Know your limitations. Your own experience will be enough in most situations.  However, we don't expect you to be able to answer all of your mentee’s questions. For career-related resources, you can review and refer students to the CCD’s website: Be willing to admit when you don't know the answer or your mentee needs specialized support. An example could be a mentee who confides he is so anxious about his job search he is losing sleep. Whenever needed, contact Ann McAdam Griffin at the CCD (713-348-4055) and we're happy to help. Rice offers a range of services to help students achieve academic and personal success and we can provide information to you for your mentees.

What if students ask me for a job?
Please note that while jobs and internships are possible outcomes of mentoring and networking, you are not expected to provide this service. Students may contact you to ask for an informational interview. If a student does ask you for a job, please inform them that you are not able to help them in that way. If you are willing, you may offer to tell them about working in the company or provide insight into your company's recruiting process. If you do want to open the door to recruiting at your organization, please contact Ann McAdam Griffin at the CCD (713-348-4055).

  • I want to make connections on Sallyportal. Now what?

    Great! We’re glad you are open to reaching out to alumni and parents of Rice students to glean advice on career related topics. 

    Be strategic. This platform works best when you do some research on 1) yourself, to understand why you are seeking advice and 2) the prospective connection and/or mentor — what is it about their job that interests you? In other words, it’s not about the number of connections you make, it’s about the communication and information that follows from the conversations you have that will help you move on to the next step in your career search and/or development. Schedule an appointment with Rice’s Center for Career Development (CCD) to learn more about this topic.

    Nuts and Bolts: Once you identify a prospective connection and/or mentor, click on the “Send Message” tab on the right side of their profile page. You will then be prompted to include a note (see potential templates below). Be sure to include a clear subject line in your initial outreach. Once the person accepts your request, it’s essential that you take the initiative to follow up with the same note. Alumni and parents of Rice students are being advised to wait for the student to follow up, so it’s on you to take that next step.

  • How does the mentorship process work?

    If you are seeking more formalized mentoring at this time, you can click “Request Mentorship” on the right side of a profile page. You will need to include a customized note in this request similar to the templates below.

    Remember, mentoring is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.  You may request an alum to be your mentor because you want to learn about working abroad or to unpack the medical or graduate school application and interview processes.  Or, perhaps you want to learn more about a particular industry or job function. The mentoring relationship is defined both by your needs and your mentor’s availability.

    Alternatively, if you don’t need a formal mentor at this time, you can simply message an alum for specific advice.  

  • How do I follow up with a connection and/or mentor once they accept my request?

    Following up with your connection(s) is the most crucial component of utilizing Sallyportal. If you don’t hear back, move on to the next alum and continue your search for advice. 

    First, identify commonalities between you and the potential connection and/or mentor:

    Some common examples are: Rice University, major, geographic location (Are you from the same area? Do you have family/friends there?), area of interest, student club leadership/ previous internship/ relevant course project(s), or interest in the mentor’s job function and/or organization in which they work.

    Second, always have an “ask” — do not leave the message open-ended. 

    Remember, you are asking for a mentor’s ADVICE; you are not explicitly asking for an internship or job. 

    So, what do you want from this request? Here are a few possibilities to brainstorm (this is not an exhaustive list — you can customize it based on your needs):

    •     Connect over the phone / email / in-person
    •    Get introduced to industry connections
    •    Gain advice on career related topics including:
    •    Job functions
    •    Organizational culture
    •    Industry specific information (such as typical career path and training)
    •    Graduate school (i.e. request information about the grad school program that your connection attended and its application process)


  • Templates for sending messages

    An example of a message to send if you've never met the recipient:

    Hi [name of mentor],
    I am a sophomore at Rice University majoring in economics and am exploring summer internship opportunities in the start-up realm. I’d welcome your perspective on your entrepreneurship venture, as well as what it’s like to work at, a premier institute. I’m looking at similar organizations and would welcome any insights you have.

    If you have a few minutes to either talk by phone, in person or email, I’d very much appreciate connecting. 

    Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you soon.
    Your name [first and last]

    An example of a message to send to a recipient you have met previously:

    Hi [name of mentor],
    It was great meeting you at the networking event on [date] at [place].  I enjoyed talking to you about [x topic]. As a reminder, I am a sophomore at Rice University majoring in economics and am exploring summer internship opportunities in the start-up realm.  

    If you have a few minutes to continue the conversation, I’d very much appreciate connecting. 

    Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Your name [first and last]

  • Okay, the community member accepted my request, I followed up with a message and coordinated a time to talk/meet. Now what?
    Prepare, be concise and respect the member’s time. Remember, this person is taking time out of their busy schedule to talk to you. Here are some potential questions you might customize for your conversation. Target five to 10 questions knowing you may not get to ask all of them. Let the conversation flow organically and rely on the questions as needed. 
    Be sure to follow up after you talk with a brief thank you note via Sallyportal (or email if you have contact information outside of the system). 
  • After the initial contact/meeting, how do I follow up?

    It’s up to you. If you still have unanswered questions, ask them (but, again, be mindful of time). If the person offers to connect you with contacts outside of Sallyportal, follow up on that offer. If you have good news to share or relevant information, then definitely reach out. Remember: networking is a two-way street, and it’s not always about reaching out to just ask for a favor.

  • Should I use the Sallyportal message board?

    Maybe. While the message board can be effective in broadly communicating an inquiry or opportunity, your message can also be buried in the feed. Additionally, if you’re exploring a field or job function, take the time to research and identify possible connections to have a more customized approach for you and the alum. 

    In short, it’s not up to the users of Sallyportal to respond to your inquiry directly on the message board — if you pursue this route, you need to post your message and be sure to follow up with those who comment on your message.

  • Is Sallyportal the only place to network and meet possible mentors?

    If you seek mentors, Rice alumni and parents are tremendous resources. The users in Sallyportal actively signed up to help students. Depending on the industry you wish to pursue, you may also go beyond Sallyportal to meet mentors who will help you gain insight on a particular field or organization. 

    Attending (live) events is one of the best ways to meet new people. The CCD hosts many events on campus to help students and alumni network with each other and employers, including: panel discussions, employer information sessions, the Career & Internship Expos, Resumania, Owl Mentor walk-in hours, networking events and more! LinkedIn and Sallyportal are outstanding resources; however, they supplement, not replace, actively attending events and networking in person.

Resources for Campus Partners

Thank you for using Sallyportal to assist with your program's professional development needs! Your partnership is invaluable as we provide more ways to engage the greater Rice community. Here are just some of the ways you can use Sallyportal to your advantage:

  • Broaden the base of volunteers for your professional development programs.
  • Expand your reach for professional development events. 
  • Provide additional value to your students and alumni through a robust professional network.
  • Offer your professional development events in one place that can be easily accessed.
  • Help your students and alumni easily access university-wide services and programs (i.e. CCD, Doerr Institute training).

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