Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Guidelines & Responsibilities for Students


For the first meeting

  • Have a list of things you would like to focus on and accomplish over the course of the mentorship.
  • Tell your mentor why you want to work with them.
  • Establish short term and long term goals and expectations from the outset.
  • Think about what a successful mentorship experience would look like.
  • Establish procedural plans:
    • How often do you plan on meeting and for how long will you meet?
    • How will you communicate outside of meetings?
    • How formal / informal will meetings be?
    • What kind of record or notes will be kept?



For every meeting

  • Your mentor will reach out to you to set up the first meeting, but in general, it is the mentee's responsibility to initiate contact, plan and schedule meeting times, and create an agenda or a plan for meetings.
  • Check in:
    • Share reflections on the previous meeting.
    • Share milestones toward goals.
    • Share changes in plans and goals.
  • Check out:
    • Summarize.
    • Go over next steps.
    • Make a plan for the next meeting.
  • Be focused: Respect the time constraints of your mentor.
  • After the meeting, reflect and reevaluate your plans, goals, and expectations.


Guidelines & Responsibilities

  • Commit
    • Spend time outside of meetings preparing, reflecting, and working on what you discussed with your mentor.
    • Listen actively and be present during the meeting.
  • Be prepared
    • Communicate updates and progress since your last meeting, as well as further reflection.
    • Have your notes written down prior to meeting with your mentor: questions, ideas, issues.
    • Have a plan for the following meeting.
  • Be your own advocate.  Tell your mentor what is most helpful to you.  Direct the conversation.  Share what is working and what is not.  
  • Communicate.  Keep your mentor up-to-date on the milestones and outcomes of your goals.  
  • Know that your goals and needs will change over time.  Communicate this evolution with your mentor.
  • Be willing to take on additional mentors (social mentors, professional mentors, peer-group mentors). Keep expanding your network.
  • Keep the relationship active.
  • Understand your mentor’s other commitments and time restraints.  Respect your access to their time.  
  • Expect feedback, suggestions, experience, and support, rather than answers, directions, or instructions.
  • Do not ask your mentor for letters of recommendation.
  • Remember that your mentor has not been trained to be an academic advisor.
  • Expect your mentor to keep conversations confidential, but be aware of their required limitations to confidentiality.