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Mentoring Around the World: What to Expect, What to Do

Read more about international mentoring in this article from the Mentor Committee.
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SWE is a global organization, but we don’t always remember the vast opportunities this fact opens for us. SWE offers us a chance to connect with professionals from different countries and cultures and thus provide diverse and impactful perspectives.

We have the chance to mentor and be mentored by people worldwide. Mentoring is a safe way to step outside your comfort zone and learn things about yourself and your business that transcend ordinary career growth. Whether your interests lie in the global business community or you want to expand your knowledge, global mentoring is a great way to grow your network and increase your understanding.

Where do you start?

The best place to start is SWE’s mentoring page.

  • Check out multiple resources, such as mentoring podcasts and blog articles, to expand your mentoring knowledge and find a mentor for yourself!
  • Access the SWE Mentor Network, which offers a structured online 1:1 mentorship where individuals can connect with professionals from different industries and institutions. This will help you navigate through your career with ease via professional guidance.
  • Connect with the SWE Mentoring Committee, which annually hosts 3-4 interactive collaboration calls on various topics. These calls are virtual. You can participate in interactive discussions with panelists and/or join small group breakout sessions centered around a key topic in the SWE mentoring community. The committee also provides resources on essential areas, such as mentor/mentee expectations, negotiations, building your brand, etc.

How do you start?

Mentoring across time zones

Cross-region mentoring comes with its benefits and challenges. The SWE Mentor Network will help you with ways to approach this successfully and create an enriching experience.

  • Ask a mentor if they would be willing to share global social and cultural differences in a professional setup.
  • Global mentors can help you understand the international market and skills, what is favorable in their region, and expand your horizon.
  • You may choose a mentor from another culture, country, or social background and ensure you are aware of and respect cultural differences. Researching the mentor’s (and mentee’s) culture and social norms is a good practice. This will help facilitate a smooth conversation. Respecting people from different cultures will help build your cultural empathy.
  • To get to know a mentor/mentee across the miles, you can start by sharing your work history, hobbies, and/or what motivates you. If it works for you, you can opt for a video call.
  • Use your introduction time to recognize cultural differences in mentoring. Do you prefer “mentee” or “protégé”. Or something altogether different? Is mentoring a valued part of your country’s culture or frowned upon?
  • Remember that the Mentor Network is your opportunity to get to know your mentor/mentee – it is encouraged for you to continue your connection outside of the Network if you have mutual interest.

When to schedule mentoring calls or video chats across time zones?

When you find a mentor from a different country than your own, be sure you know each other’s time zones and identify times that will work best for both of you.

  • When suggesting times, it’s helpful to include your time zone and your mentor/mentee’s time zone, e.g. 8 a.m. PDT / 8:30 p.m. IST. An online world time zone converter can help you do the math and find the time zone abbreviation.
  • Scheduling tools, like Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar, make it easier to set meetings in multiple time zones.

What are the expectations for mentors and mentees?

Global mentoring often entails building a relationship with someone you have not met face-to-face and who may have different cultural connotations of mentoring. Being mindful of considerations like these can help both parties cultivate a meaningful relationship.

Expectations for mentors (beyond the usual)

  • It is good to start by sharing personal information if that works best for you and your mentee. Understand the mentee’s learning style.
  • Never make judgments or assumptions about your mentee based on biases. Be willing to adjust and share your diverse perspectives with the mentee.
  • Both the mentor and mentee will be learning. Let each other know whether a particular advice or input will work in a different work culture.

Expectations for mentees (beyond the usual)

  • Be open and flexible to learning across boundaries.
  • Come prepared for the meeting, and ensure you communicate your goals and aspirations.
  • Let the mentor know if they are making a false assumption. All mentor/mentee relationships are reciprocal. We learn from each other.
  • Use video whenever possible.


Whether as a mentor or mentee, you will find that global mentoring is an exciting opportunity to learn more about other countries, different ways to do business, and new methods to grow your career and network. It also provides an understanding of a multicultural environment, and this diversity in perspective allows you to be more creative and innovative.

The SWE Mentoring Committee (formerly Mentoring Facilitation Working Group) will host a panel on “Mentoring Around the World” with global speakers who will discuss opportunities and challenges in mentoring, twice to support multiple time zones, on September 17, 2023, at 11 p.m. EST (register) and September 18, 2023, at 11 a.m. EST (register.) You can also connect with us on Facebook for more information and to register or to view the recording after the event.


  • Diya Dwarakanath

    Diya Dwarakanath (she/her) has been a mentor on the SWE Mentor Network since its 2020 inaugural cohort. She is also honored to serve on the SWE Mentoring Committee and SWE Editorial Board. Diya is currently a freelance science and engineering writer and digital content creator. Previously, she was a Senior R&D Engineer at Cue Health in San Diego, CA. Find her latest work on

  • Mandeep Gill

    Mandeep Gill (she/her) works with Becton Dickinson, and manages a diverse Technical Documentation, Labeling, and UXD portfolio at the Chandigarh R&D center in India. As a volunteer, Mandeep supports BD’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) Associate Resource Group as the WIN+STEM Chandigarh lead and WIN Global Mentoring Advisory Council lead, as well as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) as a Global Ambassador, SWE Mohali Affiliate Committee Member, and Lead-Elect SWE Global Women Engineers AG. She also supports SWE Mentor Network as a mentor.

  • Catherine Meyn

    Catherine Meyn (she/her) is a founder of the Mentoring Facilitation Working Group (Membership Committee), former Software Engineer and Retired Director of Northrop Grumman, and a proud member of the Mentor Network as Mentor and Mentee.