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?
  • Your mentor will reach out to you to set up the first meeting, but after that, it is the mentee's responsibility to initiate contact, plan and schedule meeting times, and create an agenda or a plan for meetings.
  • 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 focused.  Respect the commitments and time constraints of your mentor, and respect your access to their time.
  • Be prepared
    • Have notes written down prior to meeting with your mentor: questions, ideas, issues.
    • Make 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.  
  • 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.  It is the student’s responsibility to contact the mentor and set up meetings.
  • Expect feedback, suggestions, experience, and support, rather than answers, directions, or instructions.  Remember that your mentor has not been trained to be an academic advisor.  For more information on academic advising, see: GS or CC.
  • Do not ask your mentor for letters of recommendation.
  • Expect your mentor to keep conversations confidential, but be aware of their required limitations to confidentiality.