Grad LEAP: Alumni Mentoring Program for Graduate Students

Alumni Mentoring Program for Graduate Students

To ensure the success of our graduate students from all backgrounds, identities, and social capital, the Graduate College offers Grad Leveraging Engaged Alumni Program (LEAP), an innovative mentoring program designed to help build connections and community between UD graduate students and alumni. Participating students will be paired with alumni mentors who can offer guidance and advice regarding the challenges of graduate education and research, professional development strategies, and referrals to others to assist in building a professional network. We are excited for our students to meet our amazing alumni and to provide what we know will be a rewarding experience for all.

Grad LEAP is intended to:

  •  Prepare graduate students to meet a range of challenges by providing them with personalized support from Blue Hen graduate alumni who can share invaluable insights from their own academic and professional experiences.
  • Provide graduate students with a structured means of initiating and maintaining a professional relationship with graduate alumni through personalized one-on-one advice and support.

  • Build connections and community between UD graduate students and graduate alumni who can support graduate students in navigating their academic, personal and professional goals.

  • Help graduate students spark meaningful conversations with their alumni mentors and others in their professional network. 

How it works: 

  •  Students and alumni complete a matching survey to share their career interests and goals.
  • Participating alumni receive mentor training.

  • The match is based on academic and professional interests and lived experiences.

  • After the mentor-mentee pair is established, the mentor and mentee work together to decide when and how they prefer to connect, which can happen via email, phone, video chat, text or in person. We recommend that the mentor and mentee get in touch with each other at least once a month.

  • The mentorship program officially wraps up at the end of the academic year. However, the mentors and mentees are encouraged to stay in touch beyond the program

Mentee Testimonials

“I participated last academic year and I was assigned an incredible mentor who I continue to meet with even after the program ended. My mentor provided me with introductions to key collaborative partners for my dissertation research as well as advice on professional development, personal challenges, and how to foster opportunities for myself. I also tested dissertation ideas with her during our conversations and she furthered my thinking which helped me develop a more robust proposal. I have also learned from her own community service and current work. I encourage you to take advantage of this program regardless of where you are in your studies.”
- PhD Student from College of Education and Human Development

“[My mentor] has provided me with feedback on my cover letter and resume, which was pretty helpful and constructive. He also talked about the importance of talking with other people, and how I should be confident in myself.”
- PhD Student from College of Engineering

“[My mentor] has identified a range of internal courses (at the University of Delaware) and external courses that will enhance my skill set and, ultimately, boost my career prospects in the planning world. He's been very helpful! He's recommended several contacts to me to broaden my network and engage with other dimensions of planning to potentially bring forth research opportunities and work experience”
- PhD Student from the Biden School of Public Policy

Mentor Testimonials

“This mentoring relationship makes me feel much more connected to the University of Delaware. In particular, it makes me feel useful and helpful, which is really nice”
- PhD Alumnus from College of Engineering

“I was able to talk [my mentee] through a day on the job as a PI in the industry from the point of view of an Engineer and a Chemist. I talked about my experience when I was at the stage that she is and the resources I had at my disposal. I talked about some concerns I had and what I learned. She seems to be very appreciative to hear my perspective.”
- PhD Alumnus from College of Engineering

Frequently Asked Questions

The program is open to UD graduate students who are currently enrolled in a degree program in the STEM, humanities, and social sciences disciplines. 

Everyone benefits from having a mentor regardless of where they are in their careers. Mentors can help you delve deeper into an academic interest, career field, or activity that you already excel at. They can assist with thriving in graduate school, advancing your leadership skills, your job search, or getting a promotion.

For alumni interested in serving as mentors, Grad LEAP is an excellent way to give back to the UD community. Current graduate students are eager to have mentors like you who have been in their shoes and know firsthand what it’s like to learn at UD.

As mentoring relationships can take many forms, we encourage mentors and mentees to develop a communication engagement strategy that best fits their expectations and demands on their time. This being said, we hope that mentors and mentees will be able to meet at least once a month throughout the program.

Honest and frequent communication are key. Here are some articles you may find helpful. 

Tips for Mentees

Tips for Mentors and Mentees

  • How do I overcome the unique challenges of graduate education and research?
  • How do I balance the demands of graduate school and life?
  • How can I set myself up for academic, personal and career success? 
  • What are my career options? What are the skills and competencies needed to be successful in the workforce?

Mentors and mentees create an account in the Mentor Collective’s portal and complete a matching survey. The matches are based on academic and professional interests and lived experiences. We will do our best to accommodate your matching preferences.

No. Meetings with your mentee or mentor can be held in person or via phone or video call. There is not a specific time in which the mentoring pairs must meet. The mentor and mentee can decide when, how, and how often to meet. 

Yes! The mentors in the program are UD alumni who volunteer to guide and advise current graduate students.

Many of our mentors live and work in the Northeastern states, while other mentors across the globe.

Mentors and mentees are welcomed and encouraged to stay in touch afterward. You will still have access to your participant dashboard, but will no longer be required to log conversations nor be expected to meet at least once a month. Mentors will be given the opportunity to continue in the program next year before the program ends in July 2022 and will not need to complete additional training or onboarding steps.