Getting Started With Mentoring

Program Overview

The Society of American Archivists’ Mentoring Program is designed to bring together members with shared interest in various aspects of the archival profession.

The program’s goal is to cultivate career development and communication between members with areas of expertise and members who want to build their knowledge within those areas. It is intended to be a network-building support resource for SAA members, which can complement the short-term job search and career counseling of the SAA Career Commons.

Program participants should establish expectations and determine how to best structure your relationship. We recommend communicating, at a minimum, once a month, for the duration of the time that you’re in the mentoring relationship. Meetings may be virtual, via email, or in person.

Timeline of the Program

As of January 2022, the formal mentoring commitment is for six months. The Subcommittee will check in with you both after three months to make sure everything is going well. We will acknowledge the conclusion of your formal mentoring relationship in six months and distribute a feedback survey to learn how to better improve the program. If you would like to continue your relationship informally going forward, feel free to do so! 

Initial Introductions

The Mentoring Subcommittee reviews all applications and will match applicants based on a number of complimenting factors. We will send an introductory email to you both with your contact information and a few bulleted elements of why we matched you. Please reach out to your mentoring partner and consider going through the following steps to establish a solid mentoring relationship:


First Steps

  • Introduce yourself to one another

    • Share your motivation for participating in this program

    • Summarize your career trajectory

    • Discuss your aspirations, goals, and interests

  • Review expectations and roles

    • Review the SAA code of conduct and discuss expectations of confidentiality 

    • Establish a schedule to connect with each other.

    • Brainstorm how meetings should be structured, whether topics are planned or whether it is more of an ad hoc conversation

Expectations for Mentees

  • Respect each other’s time

  • Be prepared with a list of questions and topics to possibly discuss for each meeting

  • Discuss how the mentoring relationship can help meet goals

  • Explore and exchange thoughts on current trends in the archival profession

  • Ask for advice about sessions at SAA's annual meeting and about how to become involved in SAA's committees and sections

Expectations for Mentors

  • A mentor should be an ally and a supportive colleague but is not a professional job coach or someone who will provide a job to a mentee. For shorter-term, more targeted job search advice and career counseling, consider the SAA Career Services Commons.

  • Listen supportively to your mentee

  • Encourage and provide constructive feedback

  • Share about your lived experiences and reflect on the mentee’s questions

Successful Mentoring Relationships

A successful mentoring relationship will:

  • Set clear goals, needs, and expectations

  • Connect mentees to people and/or resources that can help them meet their goals, and expand their professional network

  • Encourage self-reflection

  • Foster development of trust, understanding, confidentiality, and empathy
    between the mentor and mentee

To support a successful mentoring relationship, participants are encouraged to:

  • Be approachable and accessible

  • Be patient and encouraging

  • Be willing to ask for and seek help/advice

  • Establish and maintain consistent, timely communication

  • Listen to one another with an open mind and be nonjudgmental

Conversation Ideas

Conversations will vary based on interests and personality dynamics, but we encourage a focus on the archival and allied professions, career growth, facing challenges, and solving problems.

Here’s a list of some possible conversation ideas:

  • What you hope to gain from participating in the program

  • Career planning and goal-setting

  • Continuing education coursework, workshops, or annual meeting program sessions of interest

  • Job search, interviewing, and offer negotiation strategies (see also the Career Commons services)

  • Challenges and opportunities at work

  • Introduce your mentee to other professional colleagues to expand their network

  • Share example archival policies, procedures, and workflows

  • Professional service and leadership

  • Presentations and scholarship

  • Sharing career lessons

  • Work/life balance

Browse the SAA Membership blog to see submissions by Mentoring Program participants to get additional ideas and consider contributing a post.


If you have questions, please contact the Mentoring Program Subcommittee.