Time commitments vary and will be negotiated by the mentors and mentees. However, at least one meaningful 30-minute contact each month is desired between August and May. Mentors and mentees may have additional contacts as they determine. For example, mentoring contacts may occur or increase around major life events, cultural celebrations and holidays, university activities, sensitive work deadlines, while preparing or teaching new courses, prior to or after conference presentations or publications, in the grant writing process, during difficult moments, and/or professional challenges.
A meaningful contact could be virtual, in-person (1:1 sessions or attendance at events), via email, Zoom, or telephone, or could include small group events with other mentors and mentees.
Mentor Responsibilities and Tips
- Initial contact. Mentors must reach out to make initial contact and invite the mentee to collaborate.
- Meet regularly. It is important to meet regularly, even when one of you feels too busy. Set agendas for each meeting so you are certain to cover important topics.
- Leave time for unstructured conversations. While agendas are good for orientation purposes, be sure to leave time to discuss issues that have arisen for your mentee. Be certain you hold those conversations in strictest confidence in order to maintain the trust that is important to your mentoring relationship.
- Lean in and help establish a culturally responsive social and professional network. Introduce your mentee to colleagues across campus—both as a social act and to help build professional connections. Consider attending university events together, like lectures, receptions, faculty meetings, etc. Introduce your mentee to the crucial staff people in offices across campus.
- Be proactive. Your mentee will not always know the right questions to ask or may not always feel comfortable admitting to a teaching problem or lack of knowledge. Ask specific questions that will generate conversation.
- Communicate. Mentoring includes not only speaking, but more importantly listening. Ask open-ended prompting questions, allowing plenty of space for responses. Listen for information and empathy. Hear what is said and unsaid.
- Understand your mentee’s needs through their cultural lens and context. It is important to get to know your mentee’s background, goals, interests, and needs to understand the person you are mentoring. New hires range widely in their previous experiences and expertise, so learning about your mentee early on can make your mentoring efforts more focused and productive.
Mentee Responsibilities and Tips
- Make time to meet regularly with your mentor. You will be very busy the first semester, but it is important to make time to meet regularly with your mentor, even when you feel overwhelmed… or especially when you feel overwhelmed. Research shows that a good mentoring relationship leads to a “more rapid socialization to campus” as well as improved ratings of teaching. So, look at mentoring as an important long-term investment of your time, not just another hassle in your short-term schedule.
- Ask for help or feedback when you need it. Ask specific questions when you have them; floundering around or fixing mistakes later will take too much of your valuable time. Don’t worry that you are bothering your mentor, or how asking for help might appear. You are new and need assistance; that is the precise reason we have a mentor program in place!
- Lean in and be willing to listen and learn. Part of your professional identity probably involves being self-reliant but take the time to listen to the advice your mentor provides and look at this as an important learning opportunity. While not all advice is useful or accurate in any situation remaining open to learning from your experienced colleagues will benefit you in the long term.
- Take advantage of the opportunities presented. Again, consider various opportunities— classroom observations, teaching circles, writing retreats, mini-grants, etc.—as investments in your long-term professional development. Find time for these opportunities and consider asking your mentor for guidance on which uses of your time might be most beneficial. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone to grow into new experiences.
- Be open and honest. Honesty is vital to getting you the guidance and assistance you need. Because your mentor understands the need for confidentiality, you can feel safe in sharing these thoughts. Remember that confidentiality works both ways, and that your mentors will be best able to advise you if they know confidentiality will be respected by you as well.