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City College Fellowships Program

Mentoring: Dos and Dont's for Fellows

The mentoring relationship is a complex one, like most human relationships. It is different each time and successful to the extent that both mentor and fellow are committed to it and willing to work at it.

It works best when there is open, honest communication and mutual trust and respect.

  • DO seek the advice of your mentor in choosing courses, selecting summer internships, applying for fellowships, and applying to graduate school.
  • DO show receptivity to your mentor's advice and constructive criticism.
  • DO show up on time, and prepare for meetings with your mentor to maximize use of the time available.
  • DO treat college as work: an undertaking that requires serious commitment of time and effort. Let your mentor know that you are a serious student.
  • DO take initiative.
  • DO seek help and advice from the Director of the Fellowships Program if the mentoring relationship is not working well for you.
  • DON'T expect the mentor to tell you what to do. A mentor can help you better define and explore your interests and ideas, and can support you in your efforts to acquire the necessary skills. The interests and ideas need to come from you.
  • DON'T expect your mentor to have all the answers; rather use the mentor's experience as a "sounding board" to try out ideas and options. Seek advice from other professors and Fellows. You are responsible for your fate!
  • DON'T interpret critical review of your performance/progress as a personal attack.
  • DON'T avoid your mentor when you are having difficulties. This is the most important time to keep your mentor informed about what is going on.
  • DON'T get involved in negative departmental politics.

See also the excellent guide, "How to Get the Mentoring You Want"