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NCLB seeks to strike a delicate balance – between touching as many ideas as possible and making a meaningful contribution towards every idea. In our experience, the following principles can help both the mentee and mentor have a useful session and the NCLB succeed overall –
- Set the Context: Outline your idea/project quickly to keep as much time for the discussion. If possible, share 1-2 easy-to-read/process things in advance that could help the mentor understand what you’re doing.
- Broad or Deep, but not both: A focus on the critical inquiries that will strengthen the idea or, if the mentee so wishes, a deeper exploration of a single inquiry. It’s hard to do both!
- Maintain confidentiality: This goes both ways. The NCLB session is a space where the mentee should feel comfortable sharing as much about the idea/project as possible. The mentor should feel comfortable sharing personal opinions that won’t be made public.
- Respect the thirty minutes: It’s highly unlikely that the thirty minutes will ever feel enough. But that’s an unavoidable constraint with a project as ambitious as NCLB. Once thirty minutes are up the mentee should respect the time of the mentor and vice versa. If you need more time you can apply for another NCLB slot. Leave it to the mentor to share their email or phone number.
- Don’t force the mentor to make an introduction: The purpose of NCLB is not to ask the mentor for introductions to their personal network. If the mentor so decides to offer them then you can certainly take them up on that offer! This doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions relating to how you can get in touch with certain types of people.