The primary goal of mentoring is to introduce students to career opportunities and develop relationships for professional development. Mentors can be faculty advisors or other faculty, alumni, professionals, or even another student. An advisor may or may not be a mentor, depending on the quality of the relationship.

Sign up to be an alumni mentor by contacting Jennifer Rosenberg, Associate Dean.

On this page:

For Mentors

What Does a Mentor Do?

Mentoring is more than advising; it is a personal, as well as, professional relationship. A mentor provides advice and encouragement in order to help another person develop into a successful professional. Share your knowledge, give emotional support and moral encouragement, provide feedback, help find professional development opportunities, and always try to be a good listener and good problem-solver.

Being a Good Mentor

  • Take students seriously. A question or problem that seems trivial or irrelevant might not be, or it might mask a more serious issue.
  • Be constructive. Critical feedback is important, but do it kindly and temper criticism with praise when deserved.
  • Don’t dictate answers. Make suggestions and allow students to make choices.
  • Be frank and direct. Let students know what you can and cannot offer in the mentoring relationship.
  • Invite other mentors. Acknowledge that students would benefit from multiple mentors with varying experiences.
  • Meet on “neutral ground. Consider meeting outside of your office in a more comfortable space such as a cafe.
  • Get together. Develop a relationship with simple activities like walks across campus, informal conversations over coffee, attending a lecture together – this will help to develop rapport.

For most people, good mentoring, like good teaching, is a skill that is developed over time. Read more: Advisor, Teacher, Role Model, Friend, on being a mentor to students in science and engineering. See also: The Mentor-Protégé Relationship.

For Student Mentees

What Does a Student Mentee Do?

Students are encouraged to ask questions and to keep in touch with mentors by sharing news about career choices, finding internships or positions, etc.  

Being a Good Student Mentee

  • Be professional. When you are reaching out to a potential mentor, make sure you use formal communication styles. Even if you are writing the email from your phone, do not use text abbreviations.
  • Get together. Develop a relationship with simple activities like walks across campus, informal conversations over coffee, attending a lecture together – this will help to develop rapport.
  • Be punctual. If meeting in person, present yourself on time and prepared with research and questions. Be respectful of the mentor’s time.
  • Be courteous. If you are meeting your mentor for a meal or snack, it is expected that you will pay for your share.
  • Build your network. You may also ask your mentor if they know someone else you might speak with about the career field in order to build your network.
  • Take notes. Write down some basic notes about your meeting such as the name and title of the mentor, date of the meeting, and what was discussed.
  • Follow up. Send your mentor a thank you note. Express your appreciation for the assistance you received and mention one or two specifically helpful points. Keep in touch with your mentor! When you make a decision about your career choice, or you find a position, share your news.

For additional help, consider attending workshops on using LinkedIn and networking. See Life and Learning Workshops.

Mentoring Topics

  • Career choices
  • Job searching
  • Current job opportunities
  • Continuing education
  • CVs and cover letters
  • Relocating to certain area
  • Maintaining your own practice
  • Managing a budget
  • Balancing work and family
  • Other advice and tips including “life lessons”

Mentoring Ideas

Ideas for Connecting:

  • Meet for food or beverages
  • Shadow or tour your mentor's place of employment
  • Attend UB or UB SPPS networking events
  • Meet at Kapoor Hall
  • Join UB Mentor Network on LinkedIn

Example Questions to Discuss:

  • How did you get to where you are today – what was your career path?
  • What do you like most about working in this field and what do you find most challenging?
  • What are your responsibilities and what skills do you use in your profession?
  • Tell me about your daily routine on the job.
  • What are some problems you face and decisions you make?
  • How do most people get started in this field?
  • What do you think is the ideal educational path to qualify for a position in this profession?
  • Do you belong to any professional organizations? Do they have student chapters?
  • Do you think this field is growing, with opportunities for employment?
  • Can you recommend other people who might be valuable sources of information?


Note: Mentors should NOT tutor or provide academic advisement. Students who need academic support or crisis counseling should contact Karl Fiebelkorn, Senior Associate Dean.