Getting the most from mentorship
Every relationship is different, but here are some general ideas and best practices for establishing a healthy and productive partnership with your UROP mentor.
- Articulate goals, set expectations. Talk with your mentor about your goals: what you hope to learn and the skills you hope to develop during your UROP. Make a plan and timeline for working toward these goals, and check in with your mentor regularly to evaluate your progress or to discuss options if your interests shift.
- Meet regularly. Whether in-person or remote, regular touchpoints with your mentor are the best way to brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot, and talk about your work. Let your mentor know your schedule and availability, and make a plan for when and how you’ll communicate, both for ongoing mentorship and unanticipated absences. Ask your mentor to clearly define a format for your meetings together, and make sure you come to these meetings prepared.
- Show initiative and engagement. Show your commitment and investment by sticking to the lab schedule you established at the start of your UROP and completing work on time. Stay in close touch with your mentor, and don’t be afraid to ask if you can sit in on meetings and other activities that might give you a chance to deepen your experience.
- Ask questions and seek out feedback. Actively seeking feedback about your work is an excellent way to build a relationship and show your commitment. Ask questions, share your thoughts, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you’re stuck. Your mentor is there to help, but can only do that if they know what’s working, and where you might be struggling.
- Respect each other. Respect your mentor’s communication preferences and be sure to clarify your own, and understand the differences between research mentoring and other kinds of support. Contact us for concerns that may fall outside of issues with which your mentor can assist.
- Show appreciation. Your mentor is trying to help you develop as a scientist/engineer and it will mean a great deal if you show your appreciation. Send a note or an email, and if your mentor truly goes above and beyond, consider nominating them for the Outstanding UROP Mentor Award!