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What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a partnership between two people, the mentor and the mentee, who can share experiences. A mentor can provide guidance, support, and space for the mentee to think as well as helping them progress in their career, overcome work-related issues, and realize their potential. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.

Mentoring provides a chance for mentees to reflect on themselves, the challenges and opportunities faced, and what they want in life. Mentors will try to help mentees become more self-aware, take responsibility, determine their goals, and help mentees achieve them.  Mentors use their own experience to empathize with the mentee and share wisdom gained.

Mentors should ask questions and challenge their mentees, while providing guidance and encouragement. Mentoring at the summer school does not generally deal with technical problems, but we encourage mentoring on both technical and non-technical issues, including interacting with other staff when useful.

Traditional mentoring partnerships last for a predetermined amount of time, typically two to three years. At the summer school we hope that the brief interaction with your mentor will still provide you with useful insight and hopefully develop into a longer term arrangement if useful.

How does mentoring work at the summer school?

There are two types of mentors at the summer school: near-peer mentors and staff mentors. Near-peer mentors are returning students who have previously attended the summer school. They understand the stresses of being a graduate student and have some experience with taking the next step. Staff mentors are those individuals who are organizing and presenting at the summer school. They are typically more experienced in their careers.

Each mentor is assigned 3 or 4 mentees. The matching process is done after everyone has completed a mentoring interest survey.  Some students will be assigned a near-peer mentor, and some students a staff mentor.

At the Summer School, there will be both formal and informal mentoring opportunities. These will include one-on-one meetings, group mentoring sessions, meals, the poster session, and evening activities. Although students have only one assigned mentor, they are encouraged to interact with both near-peers and staff (as well as each other).

The summer school particularly encourages mentoring in the following areas:

  • career planning and progression;
  • ways to reduce feelings of isolation;
  • help with returning after a career break;
  • advice about obtaining a work/life balance;
  • networking;
  • support for coping with personal issues such as health problems, disabilities, or caring responsibilities alongside a professional career;
  • development of new skills such as leadership or public speaking.

If you have any questions, please contact Scott Callaghan at

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