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You may have many expectations and objectives you hope to achieve through your mentoring relationship. You will determine with your mentor, precisely how they can be of assistance to you. Remember, a mentoring relationship is not for the purpose of finding employment. Mentors are not to be contacted for job interviews. Be receptive to feedback and coaching, be respectful of your mentor's time and most importantly ask questions! Before contacting an individual, consider the following:

Identifying Potential Mentors

Consider the following suggestions when seeking a mentor:

Approaching a potential mentor

Once you have an idea of the mentor's research, you are ready to contact him/her. You may choose to initially contact the mentor by email or to send him/her a packet of information containing a letter of interest and some data about yourself. In some cases, you may be able to contact the mentor by going in person to his/her office or lab or by calling them on the telephone. In an initial contact with a potential mentor, you may want to consider the following:

Popping the Question

Once you have identified a faculty member with whom you wish to work, you will need to ask that person to make a commitment to serve as your faculty mentor, sponsor or advisor. Clearly communicate what kind of time commitment you are asking for and what tasks will be entailed for him/her.

If a faculty member declines to serve as your mentor, don’t be discouraged! A negative response likely says more about the professor’s prior commitments than it does about his or her interest in your work. Ask the professor for recommendations of other professors who might work well as your mentor. Mentoring highly motivated students who actively seek productive mentoring relationships makes the work of being a professor worthwhile.

Getting the Most Out of Your Mentoring Relationship

You may want to consider the following suggestions as you work with your mentor:

Questions You May Want to Ask Your Mentor

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Future Faculty


Sponsored by the Graduate School, the PFF program provides development opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The aim of the program is to help prepare participants for a successful career in higher education as an academic, with emphasis on developing skills to teach effectively and preparation to navigate the initial stages of an academic job search.

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