Mentor and Protege Tip Sheet

Program Goals

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.

Program Overview

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

Expectations for Mentors

  • Suggest appropriate continuing education coursework, workshops, or annual meeting program sessions to help your Protégé achieve career goals.

  • Introduce your Protégé to other professional colleagues; together, attend the Mentoring Program Meet-and-Greet at SAA's annual meeting.

  • Serve as a resource for policies, procedures, and other information.

Expectations for Proteges

  • Request guidance about your resume, career goals, or continuing education opportunities.

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

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

First Meeting Suggestions

  • Review expectations and roles

    • Discuss norms and confidentiality

    • Discuss how the mentoring relationship can meet goals

  • Introduce yourself to one another

    • Include current and past positions

    • Share your motivation to join the profession

    • Discuss your aspirations, goals, and interests

Timeline of the Program

The Mentor / Protégé commitment is for one year. As the year progresses, the challenges are to maintain contact and use meeting time efficiently and productively, as well as to ensure that both members are participating fully. If you would like to continue your relationship after that, please feel free to do so. At the end of your year, we will ask you to fill out a questionnaire about how we might improve the program.    

Conversation Tips

Your conversations will vary based on your interests and dynamic, but the focus should be on the archival and allied professions, career growth, facing challenges, and solving problems.

Conversations should be kept private and should be in a supportive environment.

Possible themes for discussion might include:

  • Career skills and professional development

  • Challenges and opportunities faced at work

  • Learning to network

  • Career planning and goal-setting

  • Negotiation skills

  • Professional service and leadership

  • Defining what success means

  • Managing up, down, and sideways

  • Time management

  • Work/life balance

  • Identifying individual strengths and weaknesses

  • Sharing lessons learned in the workplace

  • What you hope to gain from participating in the program

Successful Mentoring Relationships

A successful mentoring relationship will:

  • Establish mentoring relationship norms

  • Set clear goals, needs, and expectations

  • Define and agree upon availability and a meeting schedules

  • Focus on learning and teaching

  • Connect mentees to people and/or resources that can contribute to their
    development objectives, and expand their professional network

  • Develop professional skills

  • Provide constructive feedback

  • Encourage self-reflection

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

Participants in a successful mentoring relationship will:

  • Be at ease with one another

  • Be honest with one another

  • Be willing to ask for and seek help/advice

  • Promote and encourage each other

  • Be patient and kind

  • Establish and maintain good communication

  • Build and maintain relationships

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

  • Stay in touch and respond to one another in a timely manner

  • Be approachable and accessible

Role of SAA Mentoring Program Subcommittee

  • Manage applicant pool and make matches based on applicant needs.

  • Be available for questions, suggestions, and other feedback.

  • Notify program participants when match period has ended; distribute survey requesting feedback from program participants.

  • Organize Mentoring Program Meet-and-Greet at SAA Annual Meeting.


If you have questions, please contact the Mentoring Program Subcommittee using our contact form at: