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The Women in Hydropower Mentorship Program anticipates that mentors and mentees first communicate the expectations of each participant. There are many topics, books, articles, and other resources that are available to create an experience that is as formal or informal as each mentoring pair or triad group determines.

Here is a sample "Getting Started Pack"  and "Sample Mentorship Agreement." 

Below is a list of resources that other women have used, and if you know of other resources that should be on the list, please send a link or the name of the resource to


The following is a list of questions, topics, and/or ideas to help you start your mentorship pairing. This list is by no means comprehensive or a required set of discussion questions or readings; it is simply a list to help facilitate areas that you and your pairing might want to explore.

Your mentorship pairing is a personal journey and should be guided by what you want to give/get out of it. If you come across a great resource (article, book, video, etc.) that you would like to share with the rest of the Mentorship Program, please send it to the mentorship program steering committee at

Special Thanks to the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the Wisconsin Energy Institute-University of Wisconsin-Madison for sharing their mentoring program’s list of topics and resources.

Mentorship Icebreaker Questions

  1. What do you want to get out of this mentorship program and relationship?

  2. What is your current situation? (Current position, work history, work/home balance)

  3. What would you like to accomplish over the coming year? Over the next five years.

  4. Establish how you will meet. (Consistent date/time or impromptu? Phone, FaceTime/Skype, in-person, or email? Who will establish the topic for discussion? Who will schedule and organize the meetings? Etc.)


Get to Know Your Mentee/Mentor

  1. What is your favorite aspect of what you do?

  2. What are your hobbies outside of work?

  3. What events/organizations/groups do you like to get involved with?

  4. Where is your favorite place to travel?

  5. What would you do if you had an hour of free time?

  6. Favorites – food, beverage, place, vacation, television show, movie, etc.

  7. What are you looking forward to this week?

  8. What do most people not know about you? 

  9. What are your three biggest strengths?

  10. What are three barriers to meeting your goals for the next year? Five years? How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

  11. What are three barriers you have overcome to achieve the success you have achieved so far in your career?

  12. What is your primary motivator – achievement, self-satisfaction, or authority (power)?

  13. What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career? How did you get there, and what obstacles did you face/overcome?

  14. Imagine you are about to interview for a new position. Do you have an elevator pitch prepared? Let’s hear it!


Leadership - Management

  1. If you take time off, how do you delegate without micromanaging or worrying while you are away?

  2. Building a cohesive team and motivating your team members

  3. Giving and receiving feedback

  4. What is your leadership style? What styles of leadership are you aware of? How do you find out what your leadership style is?

  5. Stress management in a leadership role

Conflict Resolution - Self-Advocating

  1. Talk about a time you had to resolve a conflict. How did you handle it? Would you do anything differently if it occurred again? Which strategies did you/could you implement to prevent it from happening again?

  2. Managing emotions - Emotional Intelligence

  3. Strategies to prevent conflict

  4. Strategies to address and resolve conflict

Communication - Networking

  1. Speaking with confidence and authenticity

  2. How to build confidence in sharing ideas, presenting your work, and/or networking

  3. Presentation skills/public speaking: What are your favorite tips and tricks? Where are you trying to improve? What have you seen someone else do that you want to try?

  4. Networking skills and tips

  5. How do you communicate with people who have different personality types/communication styles than you?

Career and Professional Development - Career Change - Career Transition

  1. Career exploration and informational interviews

  2. Job applications, resumes, CVs, and interviews

  3. How to engage with mentors within your company

  4. Salary negotiations

  5. Entrepreneurship

  6. Intrapreneurship (developing leadership within your role)

  7. Developing technical skills versus transferable skills

  8. Developing business acumen (i.e. the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions in your line of work)

Diversity - Equity - Inclusion - Belonging - Culture

  1. Have you experienced/witnessed any of the following? How did you/would you address it?

    1. Racial/ethnic discrimination

    2. Gender bias

    3. Workplace harassment

    4. Hostile and/or intimidating behavior

  2. Intersectionality - the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage

  3. Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong?

Work-Life Integration

  1. What does work/life satisfaction mean to you (over short-term, long-term?)

  2. How do you find balance? Are there any areas you are trying to improve?

  3. If you have aging parents or young children, how do you balance their needs with work commitments?

  4. Traveling for work. How often do you do this? Do you have any travel tips? Tips for coordinating with work/family while you are gone?

  5. How do you manage your vacation time?


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