Ten Questions to Ask a Potential Mentor at Your First Meeting
- What are your professional interests in research, teaching, industry, and service?
- Given my goals and interests, what courses, projects, or organizations should I become involved with and explore?
- What other people or experiences does the university offer to help me develop professionally?
- What are your other commitments? How much time do you normally give to students?
- What do you consider to be a normal workload and how much time do you expect me to devote to research and teaching?
- What strengths, skills, and interests are you looking for in your mentees?
- How often do you like to meet one on one with mentees?
- Can I develop a dissertation topic from the research I may do with you?
- How many other mentees do you have? How many mentees have you graduated and how long did it take them to graduate?
- Will you be at the university for the entire year? If not, can we maintain regular communication?
The Ideal Students
- Choose their mentors thoughtfully and wisely by becoming familiar with the professor's research and professional interests.
- Have developed short and long-term professional and research goals, and share these goals with their mentors.
- Are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Submit work promptly and come to meetings prepared with specific goals, questions, and tasks they would like to accomplish in that meeting.
- Communicate regularly with their mentors about their progress, changes, or professional needs.
- Clarify their mentors' expectations and policies.
- Respect their mentors' time and reputation.
- Are proactive in their own mentoring relationships, asking mentors for information and advice on workshops that will enhance their professional development.
- Know the requirements for the degree program and explicitly ask mentors for help in successfully meeting those requirements.
- Follow their mentors' advice and follow up with their mentor about any advice and suggestions.
The Ideal Mentors
- Read and return work promptly with constructive comments.
- Develop, with their students, a list of short and long-term research and professional goals.
- Clarify expectations and policies.
- Communicate regularly about research progress, scheduling changes, and workshops or seminars that will aid in the students' professional development.
- Provide students with opportunities to develop and practice professional skills required for research, teaching, and service.
- Help students develop innovative dissertation topics.
- Help students develop marketable job dossiers.
- Support the variety of professional interests students may have in research, industry, teaching, and service.
- Facilitate networking.
- Know course and milestone requirements of students' degree programs.
- Treat students respectfully as future colleagues.
- Encourage students and provide emotional and moral support.
- Acknowledge that students have responsibilities outside the academy.
Download this information in as a pdf brochure.
The assistance of the University of Southern California Graduate School in developing the above information is gratefully acknowledged.
Further Reading on Mentorship