How to set SMART goals before connecting with a mentor?

August is Fast Mentoring Month, so there is no better time to connect with an alumni mentor for a one-on-one career conversation.

To get the most out of your mentoring session, it is important to prepare and set goals before getting in touch with a mentor. If you have a purpose for the meeting, your mentor will be able to provide you with advice that is most valuable to you.

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Picking the right mentor is the first step in preparing for a successful consultation. A great thing about the CQUni Career Connection is that mentors highlight the areas they offer support in when they register. This allows the system to suggest mentors to you as a mentee, based on what you want to learn when you fill in that part of your profile. You can select mentors not only based on the support areas they offer, but also on discipline, work field, experience, target organisation or the Mentoring Groups they are a part of.

After picking a mentor, you will be able to plan for your session based on their areas of support, and what you want to get out of the session. Creating SMART goals is a great way to have a clear vision of what advice you are seeking from your mentor.

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What are SMART goals, and how to set them?

Look at where you currently are, and where you want to be in the future – whether it be a month from now, a year from now or three years from now. Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

An example of a SMART goal:

By 31st of August 2022 (time-bound) I will identify and connect with 3 (measurable) mentors from my industry who have highlighted they are able to offer resume feedback (specific).  I will arrange and attend a meeting with at least one (achievable and measurable) of the mentors to receive feedback on my resume which I will action to improve my resume (relevant).

Keeping your SMART goals simple for one-off meetings is important. It avoids you getting confused and mixing up what you already know, and what you need to know.  Consolidate and action what you have learnt from the mentor before moving on to your next topic or requesting another session.

Breaking your goals down into smaller bites and keeping them simple for the first couple of times that you meet a mentor will also allow you to test the water before you get too far down the relationship. It is important to make sure the mentor is the right person to help you with what you need. 

Let’s look at each section of a SMART goal more closely.


A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. A general goal would be “get a job”, whilst a specific goal would say “get a job at a marketing firm in Sydney in the next 6 months”.

To set a specific goal, you must answer the six “W” questions:

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Establish a time frame.
  • Which:  Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose, or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
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Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:

  • How much? How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?
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When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. Your goal needs to be realistic and attainable. You will develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them, and eventually, you begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

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To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective towards which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic – you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be – just ensure it also aligns with other relevant goals. If your goal is not realistic, you will find it difficult to stay on track.

Consider the following questions when considering if your goal is relevant:

  • Does it seem worthwhile?
  • Is it the right time?
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A goal should be grounded within a timeframe. With no timeframe tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to find a job, when do you want to find it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, for example, “by the end of August”, then you have set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

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There are over 450 mentors waiting to give you their best advice, and they are all big fans of mentees who come to mentoring sessions prepared. Here is an example of feedback that a mentee received from one of our mentors:

“I really appreciated that you had a clear idea of what you wanted advice about from our consultation, and that you were ready to provide me with some background information to help me determine what advice might be most valuable to you. That was extremely helpful.”

If you’re a student looking to fast-track your career, or a past graduate considering a career change, set your SMART goals and join the mentoring program now!

Elina Kalavus - Alumni Relations (

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