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Mentoring Tips (from Caltech's Office of Student-Faculty Programs)

  1. Set expectations: Support, yet challenge, your mentees. Mentors have the responsibility to manage student expectations and to communicate their own expectations about how they will interact with the student.
  2. Be a positive role model. Good mentors are respected by their mentees. A mentee can learn a lot from their mentor simply by watching how their mentor behaves in any particular situation.
  3. Be genuinely interested in your mentee as an individual. As a mentor, get to know your student's academic, research, professional, and personal goals, so you can help them in a way that meets their personal best interest. If a mentor is concerned about a mentee, he/she should contact the Student-Faculty Programs Office or an office on the back of this sheet.
  4. Share your experiences and insights. Mentors can humanize themselves through sharing stories about their own academic and professional journey. Be open to sharing your mistakes and failures too, as these are often where our biggest lessons are learned.
  5. Ask questions. Asking your mentee open-ended questions will help you as a mentor to identify their real needs, values, and passions.
  6. Act as a sounding board. Mentees benefit greatly from the opportunity of having a good mentor listen to them. Allow them to explore their thoughts, ideas, and curiosities openly with you.
  7. Provide helpful feedback. Not all feedback is helpful. A good mentor knows this and will deliver feedback in a way that will help their mentee gain insight to further develop specific qualities or skills.
  8. Acknowledge achievements. Remember to celebrate their successes along their research journey.
  9. Foster community. Establish a sense of community by creating an environment that welcomes inquiry, questions, and open communication.
  10. Make regular appearances. Many students will hesitate to contact their mentor until they have something big to report or a serious issue arises. Making regular appearances provides your mentee reassurance that you are present if they have questions, concerns, or simply want to share an idea.
Undergraduates (2013)