Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Guidelines & Responsibilities for Faculty

For the First Meeting

  • Once you learn who your mentee is, reach out to them within a week.  You should schedule the first in-person meeting, but going forward, expect and encourage your mentee to take the lead in initiating contact and scheduling. We envisage that you will be meeting one-on-one with your mentees, but if you want to arrange a group meeting later in the semester, feel free to do so.
  • Be prepared to direct the conversation in the beginning: suggest topics, ask questions.

  • Establish goals and expectations from the outset:

    • Long-term goals?  Short-term goals?  What is a reasonable goal?

    • What is the focus of the relationship?

    • What is a successful outcome?

    • What are measurable milestones along the way?

  • Establish procedural plans:

    • What is the time commitment both of you can make?  During meetings?  Outside of meetings?

    • How often will you meet?  

    • How formal / informal will meetings be?

    • What kind of record or notes will be kept?

  • Clearly communicate your level of availability.

    • Are you available via email / phone / text?

    • What is the best way to reach you for a timely response?  

  • Be clear about your limitations (with time, effort, contact, etc) early on.



For Every Meeting

  • Check in:
    • Share reflections on the previous meeting.
  • Check out:
    • Summarize.
    • Go over next steps.
    • Make a plan for the next meeting.
  • Be focused: Respect the time constraints of your mentee. Eliminate distractions from phones, knocks on the door.
  • After the meeting, reflect.  Reevaluate plans / goals / expectations.  Send an email.  


Guidelines & Responsibilities

  • Listen actively and ask questions.
  • Be clear about your level of availability.

  • Allow your mentee to take the lead to direct the relationship and tell you what is most helpful to them.

  • Be generous with both praise and constructive criticism.

  • Share thoughts and personal experiences, rather than give direct advice (unless requested).  

  • Keep conversations confidential (to the extent possible).  Discuss confidentiality with your mentee early on.

    • All Columbia employees are required by University policy to report gender-based misconduct experienced by undergraduate students.  The full policy is available at

  • Help students identify resources on and off campus.

  • Support and empower students to find their own solutions and work through their own ideas.  Offer support, share personal experience, make observations; ask if you can offer advice.  

  • Help your mentee find a diverse network of professional and academic contacts and support: alumni, grad students, other undergrads, other Columbia faculty, outside faculty and professionals.  

  • Provide opportunities for mentees to attend conferences, meetings, workshops, etc where they can meet students and others who can continue to build their network.

  • Be aware of your own weaknesses and the gaps in your ability to address particular concerns.  Assist your mentee in finding someone who can help when you cannot.