Get the Mentorship You Need

Mentorship matters for gaining skills and connections. To find the right mentors, ask yourself questions like:

  • Where can I be successful?
  • Knowing that I should be working with a network of mentors, which ones can help me achieve my career goals?
  • Where will I be comfortable?
  • What characteristics do I value in a research group and/or with a primary mentor?

Source: Entering Mentoring

What can I do to get the mentorship I need?

  1. Know the characteristics of an ideal mentoring relationship, which include resiliency, flexibility, and openness.
  2. Learn effective communication strategies in an academic mentoring relationship, such as the importance of early discussions about relationship logistics and bigger-picture topics like professional development.
  3. Suggest to your faculty advisor that you create a mentoring compact or contract, which helps you both establish common expectations, explicit goals, and methods of communication.
  4. Plan out and assess your mentor network, and develop a supportive network for strategic career advancement.

Want to learn more about finding and working effectively with a mentor?

A Graduate Student Guide to Working with Faculty Advisors

Through this interactive, self-paced micro-course, graduate students learn about the characteristics of functional and dysfunctional relationships with faculty advisors, strategies for communicating effectively and aligning expectations, as well as program grievance processes and hostile and intimidating behavior resources. Completion of the micro-course takes about 20 minutes and is optional but encouraged for all graduate students.

Become the Mentor You Want to Be

Mentoring will be an important part of your future faculty or research position. Even before you move on from UW–Madison, you will likely be responsible for mentoring others while completing your training.

The Graduate School is committed to offering a full range of professional development opportunities, including high-quality seminars in effective and inclusive research mentoring for graduate students and postdocs through the Delta Program.

A person stands in a semicircle of chair desks and speaks with a group of people who are seated with laptops or notebooks in front of them.

The Delta Program in the Graduate School logo

Are you mentoring now or in the future?

Enroll in one of the Delta Program’s Research Mentor Learning Communities.

The seminar follows a nationally recognized curriculum, Entering Mentoring, that offers an expansive and safe environment in which to practice and experiment, tapping into the range of experiences and insights of the group. The facilitated learning communities build mentoring skills that help graduate students and postdocs:

  • maintain effective communication, such as providing constructive feedback, engaging in active listening, and communicating effectively across diverse disciplines and backgrounds
  • align expectations by communicating clear goals, guidelines, and processes for the mentoring relationship and establishing mutually beneficial expectations
  • assess understanding of key elements of research, as well as apply strategies for enhancing understanding
  • foster independence through trust and confidence-building in an environment in which mentees can achieve goals
  • promote professional development through sustained dialogue with mentees on professional goals, career development objectives, and balancing competing demands
  • cultivate ethical behavior by clarifying your role as a teacher and role model and managing the power dynamic inherent in the mentoring relationship
  • support equity and inclusion by mitigating the negative effects of assumptions, preconceptions, biases, and prejudices on mentor-mentee relationships
  • develop a written mentoring philosophy to guide your success as a mentor and on the job market!

Seminars are offered every semester, including the summer, and are available remotely or in person. Sign up for the Delta mailing list to hear about future seminars when they are open for registration.

Delta was immensely important in developing my mentoring skills, which I used in several dozen mentoring relationships over the past decade.

Delta Program participant

Learn More about Effective Mentoring

Mentoring compacts that help align expectations between mentors and mentees

Mentorship Agreement Template (by the UW–Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research)

Ten simple rules for developing a mentor-mentee expectations document, Masters KS, Kreeger PK (2017). PLoS Comput Biol 13(9): e1005709

Research and additional resources

The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2019). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press

Resources for each phase of the mentoring relationship, UW–Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research

Research and resources for mentors and mentees, Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (requires a free user registration)

UW–Madison faculty in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) can also find mentor training through WISCIENCE.