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Getting to Know Your Mentor

Previously: Mentoring Up: how to be a proactive mentee

Start the mentor-mentee collaboration before your program begins.

Many of your mentors will go out of their way to email you or set up a video conference over Skype or Zoom. Strive to make time to respond to that email thoughtfully or fit that meeting into your schedule even if you are busy with exams and projects. Feel free to write to your mentor as well. Faculty and administrators can be very busy in the spring and have reaching out to you on their “to do” list. If that is the case, you can impress them with your initiative by emailing them first.

When you do email your mentor, remember the three “C’s.” Be cordial, clear, and concise. Be cordial by using a professional form of address such as Dear Dr. ____ or Dear Professor _____. Use phrases that demonstrate your regard for them and for working with them. Opening with “I hope this email finds you well” and closing with “I look forward to hearing from you,” will always convey cordiality. Be clear by stating why you are writing. Writing “I am writing to introduce myself and set up a time to talk via video or over the phone,” after you have introduced yourself is a great way to be clear about why you are emailing. Be concise in the information you include. Long emails are often scanned, and the information in them is often missed. Take control of that process by including only essential information. With your mentor, you will have time to get to know each other over the phone, via videoconferencing, and in person.

Action Items:

  1. Reach out to your mentor if they haven’t already reached out to you.
  2. Dig deeper into their research by downloading and reading 3 articles. Then write 3 questions for each article. Your mentor will be impressed with your initiative.

Up Next: Getting to know your project and other potential mentors