Resources for Students

For your best future, find a mentor

Long after graduation day, you will be helped along your journey not only by the knowledge you acquired at UD but also by the advice and guidance you were given by experienced faculty members. With careful, constructive and close mentorship, our graduate students gain the career skills and confidence that cannot be learned in the lab, or instilled through textbooks or lectures.

With the support of solid mentoring relationships, students are more productive in terms of research activity, conference presentations, predoctoral publications, instructional development and grant-writing, according to research by the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School. The well-mentored students’ academic success is evident in higher completion rates and a shorter-than-average time to degree.

First, it’s important to understand the dynamics of the mentor-mentee relationship and discover how you can do your part to make this a partnership that will have an impact for a lifetime.

The science of mentoring

Mentorship matters -- especially for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). Studies have shown that mentorship can boost students’ sense of discovery and curiosity, create a better training environment and even help ensure equitable treatment of every graduate student, no matter their identity.

UD’s Graduate College has turned to worldwide experts for guidance on building effective mentorship practices. Training and activities are based on the evidence-based, interactive Entering Mentoring model developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, now facilitated by the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER). This training gives mentors skills in collective problem solving and connects them with resources to optimize mentoring practices. The Entering Mentoring curricula is expressly designed to align with National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) guidelines, which seek to ensure the standards for preparation of mentors involved in training grants.

Diversity through mentorship

Effective mentors are crucial assets in the overall development of all undergraduate and graduate students in STEMM. But they can be an especially effective allies for many members of underrepresented and marginalized populations. Mentors can show you new pathways into the field, and ensure that you truly feel valued.

That’s important for your own success, but also to the sciences as a whole. Studies show that successful integration into STEMM environments can continue to be a challenge for STEMM professionals identifying as African American, Latinx, American Indian, first-generation, sexual or gender minority individuals, and individuals with disabilities. Through mentorship, that disparity can be overcome.

Being the best ‘mentee’ you can be

By being purposeful and committed to your role as a mentee, you will begin to internalize the “real world” skills that will serve you well in graduate school and beyond. You will become better prepared for the psychological and social challenges that inevitably arise, and discover ways of working better as a team, even as you hone your networking skills in anticipation of post-graduate opportunities.

Today's mentees, guided by mentors who have been trained in the art, will discover fewer feelings of isolation, “imposterism” and stress, and find they are better able to balance the many demands of work, school and personal life. In those times when they seek a role model, they will have one by their side.

Ongoing collaboration and discussions are what sustain an effective mentoring relationship, along with some crucial elements of a successful mentoring relationship that you should keep in mind:

Support Functions

Effective mentorship provides psychosocial and career support, as well as networking opportunities tailored to the needs, interests and priorities of mentees.


Effective mentorship involves mentors stating expectations explicitly and the creation of a safe space for mentees to make their expectations explicit.


Trust develops when mentors and mentees work together to identify and respond to their mutual goals, needs and priorities, which can change over time and thus require adjustment.


Mentorship is a learned skill, and mentorship education influences mentor and mentee attitudes, self-efficacy and behaviors.


Effective mentorship entails critical and honest self-reflection at multiple stages of the mentorship process.

SOURCE: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine


Don’t think of having just one mentor – work to establish relationships wherever they might be beneficial. But remember that it is important to be proactive when you are putting together your own “team” of faculty mentors.

Start with a reflective self-appraisal of your goals and motivations. Take time to discover your unique needs as a graduate student before you decide who might meet those needs.

Ask yourself:

  • What were/are my objectives in entering graduate school?
  • What type of training do I desire?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What skills do I need to develop?
  • What kinds of research or creative projects will engage me?
  • What type of careers might I want to pursue?