This Handbook provides you, The Mentor, with an assortment of background information and ideas for engaging with your Mentee. Mentors play a unique role in that they can provide insights and advice, but are not a family member, the Mentee’s boss, or a PMI Certified Trainer. As an “objective outsider with substantial experience as a project manager,” you have the ability to support, challenge, and inspire your Mentee by providing “real world” experience and your personal, historical perspective of the PMI examination process in addition to advice on skills and processes that will improve your Mentee’s job performance and growth. Remember, it takes time to build a trusting, reciprocal relationship, so do not expect it to happen overnight. However, given time and a commitment from you and your Mentee, we are confident your mentoring experience will be an enjoyable and rewarding one for both of you!

Leadership skills are critical for project managers and organizations, and one of PMI’s top priorities is nurturing those skills in our members. It is our hope that this program will add to those skills in you and prove to be great opportunity for you to exhibit your dedication and passion for the profession through your volunteerism and to pass this along to your Mentee.

As a Mentor, the guidance you provide is invaluable; however, you are not expected to “do it all.” Mentees have many other resources available to them such as, local and on-line approved courses, classes, presentations, and even study group opportunities. You can help your Mentee engage in chapter networking, suggesting training opportunities, and providing information about joining one or more of PMI’s Special Interest Groups (SIG). PMI and other Training Partners provides listings of professional books, journals, articles, and blogs, as well as PMI approved exam study guides and exam simulations. Any or all of these might be a part of your Mentee’s study strategy plan. These and other resources can help you guide and discuss with your Mentee how s/he can best leverage these resources and activities to reach their program goals while taking advantage of the savings offered to members that will help them keep to their budget.


For some, you may be the first person that they know who is willing and able to offer them professional advice and perspective as they plan for their PMI Exam or to advance in their career. Some may be a bit intimidated or shy and others may be more comfortable both with you and in a professional mentoring setting. Each Mentee volunteered for this program because they think it (and more specifically YOU) can help them on their path to advancing their career. Your job is to help them figure out how to make the most of this experience and have fun getting to know each other along the way!


The PMI-SWIC Mentorship Program offers one-on-one professional mentoring by matching those of our Chapter Members seeking to be mentored with a Mentor from the Chapter.  We ask that you identify a variety of characteristics that will help you bond as a working team. These may include ambitions and personalities of the Mentee with the strengths of the Mentor, geographic location, career interests, family life, or even hobbies. These can help to ensure an experience of learning and development for both parties. Your Mentee will benefit from valuable study and professional advice as well as another perspective on questions and situations that may be different from or outside of your work experience. This experience provides both Mentee and Mentor an opportunity to create a unique and lasting relationship with another Chapter member. A Mentor enhances this professional partnering by serving as a role model, coach and advisor as the Mentee learns new information and considers how to best demonstrate and apply their new skills and knowledge in the pursuit of their professional goals.

This program consists of a minimum of one live or virtual meeting or phone call per month for a maximum of 12 months; however, participants are encouraged to meet and communicate above and beyond these minimums as personal schedules allow. As previously stated, a Mentee is responsible for initiating and managing communications in regards to this program relationship. To ensure a quality experience for both Mentees and Mentors, the Chapter provides a variety of meetings, workshops, training, and additional support for all Chapter Members throughout the time the program takes place.

First and foremost, as the Mentee prepares to advance their career in project management, we require them to be a member of PMI and our local PMI-SWIC Chapter where they can engage face-to-face with our members for additional educational and networking events. One of the early decisions that each Mentee must make is the educational options they will undertake. The field of educational options includes taking a classroom course, participating in study groups or special interest groups, the reading and study of professional information, and attending professional gatherings from chapter meetings to conferences. In most cases, we want you to help them identify and take part in a combination of these options. Their choice is based on the Mentees’ individual experience, knowledge of project management, financial resources, time available, self-sufficiency, and level of discipline.

Here are the 3 primary study strategy approaches without a Mentor:

  1. For those working toward a PMI certification, they may opt to take a fast track or bootcamp course from a PMI approved training organization, and these courses provide great short term mentoring. Bootcamp courses put students through an immersion process for 3-6 day, at the end of which they often take the exam while the material is fresh in their minds. This is the ultimate in mentoring as the student is essentially surrounded by mentors, not to mention other aspirants, for the entire week. The only negative about bootcamp training is that it is the ultimate in cramming, and retention for the longer term does not necessarily happen. Also it is the most expensive training, both in terms of raw cost, time away from work and family, and most likely will require travel to another city unless accomplished virtually.
  2. Many Mentees combine training methods into a personalized or customized program, where maybe they attend a multi-day class either in person or on-line, join a local or virtual study group, network with others in online groups, listen to a couple of on-demand webinars, and read several articles and books. This provides an economic alternative; but, from a mentoring standpoint the candidate is on his/her own during most of the process. The classroom, and possibly review sessions are great supplemental opportunities that can help fill the mentoring gap, but these also are for limited times, and the student is otherwise on his/her own
  3. Another viable option also involves multiple sources of training materials, but includes some sort of virtual training that incorporates a limited and specific mentoring option. Due to time and money constraints, it may also exclude any classroom or course review sessions. In these “self-sufficient” programs, the student gets the benefit of training on their own schedule, with little lost time away from work, and providing low cost with limited time commitments. If they pick the right online training, they can receive the benefit of on-demand access to the training organization’s short term mentors, as their questions occur.

Adding a local Mentor to any of the study methods listed above can prove to be a valuable and indispensable part of any such program of study whose goal is a PMI certification. The members of PMI-SWIC care deeply about a Mentee’s development, success and contribution to their profession and their future ability to share their success with in the Chapter because they are the next generation of leaders. Let’s get started!



As a Mentor, you help a Mentee gain new and thoughtful perspectives on the information that they are studying both in preparing for the exam questions and how they may find the information to best succeed in their job. You can help your Mentee greatly reduce their learning curve.


Each Mentee’s situation and ambitions are unique, but you may have faced similar challenges and have achieved success or learned how to avoid some of the pitfalls that you experienced in the past. Discussing a Mentee’s options and concerns can help them clarify their path forward and will energize their efforts as they do so. Reassure them that there’s no need for them to ever go it alone!


You support your Mentee through conversations at a collegial level, you are someone who has been in their situation, and who continues to work toward achieving ambitions of your own.


As a Mentor, you can alert a Mentee to valuable opportunities as well as provide access to a network of events and contacts available through the Chapter and its membership as well as through PMI and the world-wide community of professional project mangers to which they belong.



Currently, there is no formal schedule for beginning or ending your participation in the Mentorship Program or of activities that you must accomplish. Mentors and Mentees will begin as soon as the Mentee has fulfilled the initial requirements and end 12 months from the date the first meeting between Mentor and Mentee.


Mentors must meet the following requirements to participate in the Mentorship Program.

  1. Be a PMI Member in good standing
  2. Be a PMISWIC Member in good standing
  3. Have at least 5 years of experience as a project manager
  4. Hold a PMP or other PMI certification
  5. Be committed and available to Mentor one or more Mentee participates for 12 months
  6. Completed a Mentor Application Form
  7. Prepared a current resume or professional bio to share with your Mentee prior to or at your first meeting
  8. Be aware of how to stay abreast of activities, materials, and opportunities available to Mentees
  9. Be available to help your Mentee in developing a written Study Strategy to achieve their Mentorship goals
  10. Be available to assist your Mentee to complete an executed Mentorship Partner Agreement as part of your initial meeting with each of you receiving an executed copy

Mentees must meet the following requirements to participate in the Mentorship Program although if they have not yet completed all of the written documents you, their Mentor, will be responsible for helping them create these.

  1. Be a PMI Member in good standing
  2. Be a PMI-SWIC Member in good standing
  3. Identify the PMI Certification that they may be seeking to obtain
  4. Fulfilled the educational and/or experience requirements to apply for the PMI Certification that they may be seeking to obtain
  5. Fulfilled, or at least identified, any classroom requirements needed to apply for the PMI Certification that they are seeking to obtain (if applicable)
  6. Completed a Mentee Application Form
  7. Been assigned a Mentor
  8. Submitted a current Resume or professional bio to share with you, their Mentor, prior to or at your first meeting
  9. Developed a Personal Statement to share with you, their Mentor, prior to or at your first meeting
  10. Created, with your, their Mentor, a written Study Strategy to reach their goal(s)
  11. Submitted a complete and executed Mentorship Partner Agreement developed with you, their Mentor. This blank form will be provided to you when you are assigned a Mentee and should be taken to and completed during your initial meeting. At the end of the meeting, each of you should come away with an executed copy


A successful Mentorship is up to the Mentee! They are the only one who can do the work necessary to achieve their goals in this program and they are the one who will most benefit from the work that they do. You are there to help them, but it’s their responsibility to be prepared to work, and to ask pertinent questions. It’s up to you to remember that sometimes they may not know what questions to ask—so stay alert!

Some of the responsibilities that you and your Mentee have are listed below.

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Determine their keys to successful learning
  1. Attend as many Chapter meetings as possible with you there to make them welcome, meet other members, and feel included in the Chapter activities
  2. Attend all of the scheduled Mentor/Mentee meetings
  3. Invest time in the Mentee/Mentor relationship
  4. Maintain confidentiality between the Mentor and the Mentee
  5. Both must continue your PMI membership in good standing
  6. Both must continue your PMISWIC membership in good standing
  7. Both must be professional at all times during the Mentorship Program
  • Remember and treat the Mentor/Mentee work as a Professional Partnership
  • Stay connected to each other


Staying Connected


One of the hardest things most people have to learn to do is communicating in such a way as to “Stay Connected”. Here are a few of the most important things that Mentees and Mentors need to remember and do to keep open and honest communication between each other.

  • Be upfront and honest about your expectations and other time commitments
  • Establish a regular schedule for meeting and/or communicating
  • Email once or twice between meetings to ask about a professional news item, answer a question from the Mentees’ most recent activity, class of study, or inquire about an upcoming Chapter event
  • Remember to always use good etiquette and communication skills to minimize the constraints of your chosen communication medium whether it is an email, a phone conversation, a text, or a social media post


Business Communication Etiquette


  • Make your emails CLEAR and SUCCINCT—no more than 1 screen (25 lines)
  • Use complete sentences, short paragraphs and bullet points to list options/ideas
  • PROOFREAD your messages-forward and backward
  • Use a clear Subject Line
  • Save sensitive content for voice-to-voice meeting. Be sensitive to issues of confidentiality


Phone Etiquette


Even for Mentors with local Mentees, much of your communication may be via phone. Here are some suggestions for improving your phone etiquette and communication skills. Use these skills whenever you have a phone interview, as well.

  • Posture: Sitting erect with your head up is ideal posture for both listening and speaking on the phone. Thirty percent of the energy in your voice is lost in a phone transmission. Upright posture supports better breathing, which supports a more animated voice and which encourages active learning.
  • Hear: When someone says, “I hear you,” they usually mean that they really “get” what you are saying. Conversation between mentoring partners requires this intense and focused effort to really hear what the other means-beyond the words.
  • Open: It’s a good idea to start the conversation by confirming that it is still a good time for both partners to talk. This courtesy underscores your commitment to focused communication. Be willing to reschedule if your partner sounds rushed or unavailable.
  • Note Taking: Writing as you listen focuses your visual attention and documents your conversation for later reference. We suggest that you create a Mentoring Journal for your meeting notes. This confirms and clarifies information as well as gives you an historic perspective on the mentoring progress.
  • Eliminate Distractions: Find a comfortable space that is free from distractions. Resist the temptation to multitask during a conversation with your mentor. Listening efficiency drops dramatically even with small distractions.

First Meeting

Mentees are asked to initiate contact with their assigned Mentor and to structure the first meeting with you to make a solid connection. Get things started off in the right direction. Make sure both of you set aside the time to really listen and learn about each other in order to establish a solid foundation for the work ahead.

All Mentees should have prepared the following to review with their Mentors at the initial meeting:

  • A brief “Personal Statement”
  • Two to three Mentoring Goals the Mentee wants to achieve from the program, other than “…help me pass the exam.”
  • Professional Resume
  • Mentorship Partner Agreement—This agreement is intended to help both of you clarify your roles and expectations and provide a solid foundation for your partnership. Each of you should keep a copy and email a .pdf copy to the


Honest and helpful feedback on this program is important so that the Chapter can make continuous improvements. Towards this end, we will periodically ask both the Mentee and the Mentor to provide feedback to the VP Professional Development about the program and your experience in it.


The following provides a broad array of topics and endeavors that you might want to cover with your Mentee(s) over the course of your 12-month relationship. Please feel free to use it as a reference and starting point for coming up with your own ideas and agenda. Every mentoring relationship will be different, and every Mentee will have different needs and goals, which will inevitably change over time. Use what resonates for you and please modify and adapt these ideas to fit your own mentoring style! If you have other suggestions, we would be happy to incorporate them for future inclusion into this program. Please feel free to send your suggestions to PMI-SWIC’s


Establish the Ground Rules

Setting some Expectations and a Schedule can help keep you and your Mentee engaged and in-touch when you both get busy. Some ideas:

  • Set a Regular Schedule—We highly recommend setting a regular schedule for communication up front that will work for both you and your Mentee MOST of the time
  • Make it a “Two-Way Street”—Mentees are less likely to feel like a burden if they have responsibilities and feel like they’re contributing something. Learn about their hobbies, travels, projects, perspective in their current position or as a student
  • Establish How You Will Communicate—A number of Mentees do not use email regularly especially if they are still a full-time student. Ask about the best way to reach them. Let them know how to get your attention – via email (maybe use a special Subject Line?), texting, how to contact your assistant, your mobile number, etc.
  • Create Accountability—Feel free to ask for “deliverables.” Whether it’s reading an article, doing some research, planning an activity, or volunteering to help at an upcoming Chapter event. Make them put some “skin in the game”
  • Start a Mentoring Journal—This is a great way to help your Mentees internalize what they’ve learned and will also provide you with insight into their perspective. Ask them to write a short paragraph after each of your discussions with their reflections/insights/questions and send it to you. This is also useful for identifying good topics for follow-up

Build the Foundation

Get to know and respect each other and develop trust.

  • Ask About Your Mentee—Their strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes, dreams/fears, values and goals – both professional AND personal. Understand what makes them “tick”
  • Tell Your Story—Share your career path and “life lessons,” don’t just focus on successes. Encourage LOTS of questions, talk about what your learned vs. what you did to study for your PMI exam
  • Goal Setting—Make a plan for the anticipated program time period using their Exam Study Strategy as the basis (remember this will change just like any unique project plan). Set some high-level goals and priorities you can come back to or use as the basis for future meetings
  • Ask Questions—Ask them to prepare answers to a question or two that will help you to better understand their values, motivations and passions. For example:
  1. Describe your ideal professional project. Be as specific as possible (industry, functional area, employee or consultant, hours, location, salary, environment, etc.). Use this to set goals and define “measurable steps” needed to make progress towards their goals. The reason for this type of question will focus on the differences of the reality of the examination process and “real world” expectations of a project manager and lets you identify specific areas of need
  2. Describe your favorite project and your role in it. What did you enjoy most? What was your favorite task(s) and why?
  3. What is your biggest fear other than failing your PMI exam on the first try? This may give an indication of where they are in their professional/personal development, as well as give you an idea of where you can help early in the Mentoring Program
  4. Who are their role models and why? Make a list of 2-3 people who do or have done the type of projects and/or taken a career path that they’d like and would like to talk to them. Try to figure out HOW to make it happen!


Stock Their Toolbox—Practical things that you can do to help your Mentee be better prepared to pass their certification exam, fulfill their goals, stand out to their employers, and be more strategic in their career goals is to:

  • Offer to Review Their Professional Communications—Such as their resume to make sure that it is accomplishment oriented, project dashboards, management reporting forms, milestone charts, etc. Help them tailor report forms and standard emails for their industry or corporate culture
  • Help Develop Their “Business Mindset”—Suggest reading materials, send articles, blogs, suggest local or industry news sources, etc.
  • Other “Soft-Skills” Development—Networking, business etiquette, appearance, agenda preparation, meeting planning, note-taking, thank you notes, and other follow-ups
  • Advice on Social Media Use—Discuss how to use this tool appropriately, the benefits and pitfalls, and help them create their professional profile if they don’t have one

Explore Possibilities—Give your Mentee an idea of the range of opportunities available in project planning (especially in the area of contingency options). Help your Mentee to broaden their horizons and think creatively but realistically about what they can do to improve any project and why by using:

  • Brainstorming and Scenario Planning—Generate a “portfolio of options” based on their industry, functional area, and 3 most recent projects. Identify ideas that could improve those projects using “hind-sight” from the projects’ Lessons Learned and the PMBOK®. Think about some high risk/high reward options, as well as some safer “bets” that management may not have considered and no team member suggested such as the outside-in view of planning that actually embraces external uncertainties as a source of superior opportunities and profit, leveraging the concepts of scenario thinking, real options, and peripheral vision
  • Generate a List of Possible Projects in Their Future—Come up with a list of ways that any one of these might be improved by the application of one or more of the knowledge areas or skills that they are studying. What are the pros/cons of each? How any of these changes might be implemented or even suggested for inclusion? Help them keep in mind that corporate cultures and industries differ so discuss the “fit”
  • Encourage Self-Evaluation—If your Mentee is uncertain about their knowledge or skill level, suggest that they go to the PMI or IIL websites, and use the knowledge assessment tools to evaluate their skills and abilities. At your next meeting, you can review the results with them.

Provide Hands-On Experiences—Giving your Mentee opportunities for practice and feedback is invaluable. Provide, or encourage them to seek, opportunities to gain experience in a professional setting. Specific ideas for hands-on learning include:

  • Encourage your Mentee to implement 1 or 2 specific things that they have learned from their studies on a current project and evaluate what differences they might expect versus what they actually get
  • Host Your Mentee at Your Office—Arrange for a short tour and allow them to sit in on one of your project meetings/reviews if appropriate
  • Practice and Give Feedback—Help your Mentee prepare for different types of functions or timelines in a project through professional visits or interviews with other Chapter members, and professional colleagues as well as seeing if they can shadow one of their superiors for a day or even for a project review followed by a short meeting to discuss what they might have learned. Hands-on experience is the best teacher. Debrief with your Mentee at your next meeting. Were there surprises? Awkward moments? Brainstorm solutions
  • Make a Bet—Challenge them to call on someone they want to meet with or talk to about a professional question. Praise them if they are successful
  • Invite Your Mentee to attend or volunteer at a Professional Conference or Meeting—Debrief afterwards. Discuss why you are involved, the role of professional engagement, learning, growth, and connections that belonging to and actively participating in the activities that professional associations offer


Plan of Action—Around the time that your Mentee is a little more than half way through the execution of their Study Strategy, Mentees need to begin focusing on specific steps they can take to achieve their goals. From exploration and practice, Mentees need to be pragmatic and action-oriented. You can help them by reviewing their work, teaching them a new tool, and suggesting new white papers or blog posts. Discuss and practice actions that will help them to keep calm and focused when making presentations or leading meetings

  • Re-visit and Refine Goals—Review what they learned in their classes and studies. Create a “top 10” list of actions and skills that they can best implement in their current and future projects
  • Drive home the fact that project management is the value driver that helps an organization get the most out of its performance; and that it is their knowledge and skills enhance their value in reaching their career goals
  • Identify Action Items and Resources—Help your Mentee develop a “project strategy” that will outline the steps that they can take that will improve and/or highlight their contributions to their current and future projects focusing on their career goals e.g., researching similar projects for points of improvement and being sure that the lessons learned from previous projects in their company are utilized, observing their own actions toward improving their “people” and communication skills, or increasing their perceived professionalism. Have them identify what resources they need to be more successful e.g., attending webinars, classes, conferences, background reading, practicing with you or another Chapter resource, etc.
  • Discuss and review the annual requirements for retention of PMI certification especially PDUs—What they are, how to get them, free activities that earn PDUs, etc. Volunteerism is a core value in PMI! Volunteering for PMI is like volunteering anywhere in your life, it’s a personal responsibility to give back because you’ve benefited so much from it
  • Remind them that it is important to maintain ongoing training to close your skill gaps and build your professional value. The right training can provide the competencies that your Mentee will need to propel their career forward and keep their skills fresh. Also, point out that their membership in PMI provides substantial benefits and discounts for continuous learning opportunities. Encourage them to turn to both PMI-SWIC’s and PMI’s professional development offerings to manage their career and keep them at the top of their profession. Whether they are a novice or a veteran project manager there are ways to improve their skill set with a professional event, training course or academic degree and they can find that next step on the PMI-SWIC website or at PMI Career Headquarters on-line
  • Provide introductions to other Chapter members who may be a future resource for insights into “exam vs. real world”, practices
  • Encourage and Challenge your Mentee—Be supportive, but don’t let them off the hook!
  • Respond/Revise/Support—Follow-up on successes and disappointments and help them brainstorm next steps. Help them stick to their study plan and goals and to develop some resiliency. After all, people can fail the first time they try something new. It’s not the end of the world!
  • Give Honest Feedback—Review their study experiences and help them in areas where they may need to think through new strategies or approaches to learning the material. Help them to understand and “own” their missteps and develop “mid-course” corrections
  • Share Your Experiences—Come back to your life lessons. Share your insights and perspective having worked for more years, probably in more corporate cultures, and on more projects. Remember, this is an opportunity for horizontal and vertical knowledge sharing
  • Be Kind but Tough—Help your Mentee keep their “eye on the prize.” Work with them to develop and adapt the “tool-kit”, develop alternate study strategies, think outside the box, become more nimble in their responses to their studies, work, teams, projects, etc.

IF YOUR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS—CONTACT: PMI, Southwestern Indiana Chapter via email.