We believe that success in the graduate student endeavor requires a variety of supports. Thus, all first-year graduate students, in addition to their academic advisor, are also assigned a faculty mentor. As students progress and enter a research group, their research advisor, and often members of their comprehensive/thesis committee will also serve as mentors. We strongly encourage our students to seek out sources of advice, career guidance, and emotional support as they need it, and faculty mentors will be available to students throughout their graduate careers to both serve in and help identify others to serve in those roles.
The PAW+ organization recently started a peer mentorship program. More information can be found here.
First Gen Advocates has a peer mentorship program for first-generation students. More information can be found here.
What is a mentor?
The mentor's tasks are (from center of teaching at Vanderbilt)
- Engage graduate students in ongoing conversations
- Demystify graduate school
- Provide constructive support and feedback
- Provide encouragement and support
- Help foster networks
- Look out for the student’s interests
- Treat students with respect
- Provide a personal touch
Another way to think of a mentor is as (from University of Nebraska-Lincoln guide to mentoring)
- Advisors, people with career experience willing to share their knowledge
- Supporters, people who give emotional and moral encouragement
- Tutors, people who give specific feedback on one's performance
- Masters, in the sense of employers to whom one is apprenticed
- Sponsors, sources of information about and aid in obtaining opportunities
- Models of identity, of the kind of person one should be to be an academic
As student transitions into research groups, they will gradually build mentoring relationships with their research advisor, senior graduate students and /or postdocs). Our department has developed guidelines for the advisor-student mentoring experience.
Each year, advisor and student review and discuss these guidelines through the on-line Graduate Student Annual Review (GSAR).