Questions Frequently Asked by Mentors
- How should I initiate contact with Scholars, and how often?
You may contact the Scholar via email or phone to ask when and if they would like to meet. At the first meeting you can discuss how often they would like to meet with you. You may suggest once a month, twice a semester, etc. We encourage all mentors to check in with the Scholar at least once a semester.
- What type of advice should I be prepared to give to Scholars?
Scholars tend to ask how to work with advisors, school-work-life balance, networking etiquette, job search resources, etc. You may also be asked about the more personal side of the graduate school experience, like how to manage stress, cope with doubts about research trajectories, balance relationships with work, live on a graduate student budget, etc.
- What should I do if I find that I may not be the best mentor for my mentee?
If you feel as if you just don’t click with a Scholar, discuss the situation with your mentoring coordinator. Hopefully, you will get some idea about who might better serve the Scholar. You can then introduce them to the suggested mentor and explain why the other mentor might be a great person to consult about a particular issue. It is probably best to let the transfer process happen as naturally as possible. If severe mentor/mentee problems occur, consult the mentoring coordinator, or a counselor at Student Health Services.
- What type of support network is available if I find that I am being asked questions for which I don’t have ready answers? Also, what should I do if a time-sensitive problem comes up that I find I just don’t have the time to deal with at the moment?
If you find yourself confronted with issues beyond your time demands or expertise, whether personal or professional, there are people you can go to. Consider coordinating with other alumni mentors to provide access to resources and information. The mentor coordinator can also help with resources for academic and departmental issues. For issues of a more personal nature, such as depression and anxiety, individual counseling at Student Health Services is a great resource. There are also a number of groups available, including WashU’s Dissertation Support, which can be a great resource for doctoral students in the final stages of their degree.
- How long will I be expected to mentor?
This will vary among Scholars. You might build a relationship with some Scholars that last their entire graduate career, while others might not ask for mentoring advice after their first year; other Scholars may connect with other mentors as their needs and interests change. The minimum commitment we are asking for this program is one year, which may involve different Scholars at different times.