Work-Based Learning - Career Mentoring Activity Guide

  • Career Mentoring Fact Sheet
  • Coordinator Checklist
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Career Mentoring Fact Sheet

What is Career Mentoring?

Career Mentoring is a Career Exploration activity in which a student is matched one-on-one or in small groups with an adult professional to explore potential careers and related educational issues. Different than programs such as Big Brother, Big Sister, the career mentor serves as a career resource by sharing insights and providing guidance about the workplace, careers and postsecondary education/training. This is accomplished through formal and informal meetings organized at the school, in the workplace or online, but never in an unsupervised environment or the home. (Sometimes a mentor may work with and support a small group of students.)

The development of a trusting relationship between the student and the mentor is the key to a successful experience. Designed to meet specific learning outcomes, career mentoring is educationally rich, is tied to the curriculum, and helps students connect what they’re learning in school with the workplace.

Virtual Note:  Students who are currently paired with a Career Mentor may continue to receive support via telephone or some other technology if the necessary permissions, protections and guidance are in place to promote student safety.

Career Mentoring is designed to:

  • Give students exposure to jobs, careers, and industries.
  • Offer the opportunity to build a relationship with a caring and knowledgeable adult.
  • Offer a chance to practice communication skills and develop professional skills.
  • Help students make the connection between school and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Career Mentoring is structured to:

  • Build self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and flexibility.
  • Build occupational knowledge.
  • Enable students to begin identifying areas of career interest.
  • Allow for the mentor and mentee to select each other.
  • Offer positive life outcomes for students.
  • Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and entry into the industry.

Career Mentoring is supported by:

  • Classroom preparation and reflection upon the experience verbally and in writing.
  • A long-term commitment from an adult role model (generally at least a year).
  • A focus on building trust and respect with each other.
  • The setting of clear and reasonable expectations for students and their mentoring partner.
  • Routine meetings or communication with enough regularity to develop a strong relationship.

Career Mentoring is connected to:

  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • Future work-based learning activities.
  • The student’s next steps.

Career mentoring is one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all students engaged in career-related programs or course of study in New York City Public Schools.

Career Mentoring Activities are recognized as an “accepted and valid WBL activity” by NYSED and the New York City Public Schools for specific credit purposes.

Career Mentoring Formats

  • Traditional mentoring: (one adult to one student)
  • Small group mentoring: (one adult to as many as four students)
  • Team mentoring: (several adults working with small groups of students. Adult-to-student ratio is no greater than 1:4.
  • Large group mentoring: (one or two adults to seven to ten students)
  • Peer mentoring: (older students mentoring other students)
  • E-mentoring (mentoring via email and the internet combined with another model from the list above.)

Required Materials

Implementation Materials

Support Materials

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Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Coordinators* to ensure successful Career Mentoring


  • Identify all interested teachers and help them plan for career mentoring. Share the Teacher Tip Sheet.
  • Select the appropriate career mentoring model with a focus on career exploration, training and related education.
  • Assess potential mentors and select those who are compatible with the students. Find other ways for those not selected to be involved.
  • Conduct background checks and fingerprinting. Determine costs and who will bear expenses. Factor in time for mentors to complete background checks.
  • Support teachers in selecting appropriate students and creating learning objectives for them.
  • Match students with potential mentors. (When possible, allow the mentor and mentee to select each other.)
  • Onboard mentors with an orientation and training. Determine who will absorb those costs. In training, reinforce that there is to be no face-to-face meeting outside of supervised activities. Remind mentors to keep equity issues in mind, ensuring that one mentee isn’t offered many perks while another receives few.
  • Define how much face-to-face time is desirable. (Early in the experience, the more the better.)
  • Explore alternative forms of connecting, such as telephone, Facebook, Skype, email or other technologies.
  • If conducting activities on-line, review and share the on-line practices guidance fact sheet.


  • Share the Top 10 Core Employability Skills with the mentor.
  • Share the current focus of classroom activities on a regular basis.
  • Provide ongoing support and training for career mentors. Encourage them to share their story of the pathway to their current position. Support them in helping students build their personal traits. Help mentors understand issues of confidentiality and their responsibilities.
  • Provide ongoing support for students. Encourage them to share interests, concerns and ideas with their mentors. Suggest they invite mentors to school events/activities. Create assignments for students to share with their mentors and encourage them to share current study topics.


  • Document the career mentoring. Review feedback from mentors, teachers and students and summarize results. Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help students update their Employability Skills Profile and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with teachers to coordinate “go deeper” activities to connect the career mentoring to the classroom.
  • Send thank-you notes to mentors.
  • Publicize the career mentoring and the businesses that participated by placing a story in the local newspaper or posting on the school or agency webpage.

  • Consider other potential public relations benefits and opportunities.

Virtual Note

Students who are currently paired with a Career Mentor may continue to receive support via telephone or some other technology if the necessary permissions, protections and guidance are in place to promote student safety.

*In New York State, this includes certified work-based learning coordinators and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for students.

Sample Timeline

  • Phase 1: Identify interested teachers, mentors and students. Select career mentoring model.
  • Phase 2: Match students with mentors (or assist them in choosing each other).
  • Phase 3: Prepare teachers and students.
  • Phase 4: Provide orientation and training to career mentors. Arrange mentoring events.
  • Phase 5: Provide ongoing support to students and career mentors.
  • Phase 6: Use feedback to document effectiveness of program and help students update Employability Skills Profile.

Tips for Success

  • Engage in proper planning and preparation.
  • Address logistical details.
  • Communicate with all parties.
  • Maximize learning potential.
  • Focus on career exploration.
  • Connect to the classroom.
  • Provide support for students and supervisors.
  • Promote student reflection.