PhD Mentor

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The CS PhD Mentor program is responsible for finding current PhD students to mentor incoming PhD students and to oversee the mentoring. Contact a Mentor Czar if you would like to be a mentor or if you are a mentee and you would like to change mentors. We hold a social gathering each semester and mentors can be reimbursed for up one mentoring lunch per semester.


Primarily, you should be accessible to your Mentee. Respond to their emails and each semester ask them how they are doing. While this is a volunteer program consider items marked with a (*) to be "requirements", that is things the mentor really should do and the mentee should expect (and nudge the mentor if they are not getting.)

Some suggestions for how to interact with your Mentee:

  • * Invite them to lunch.
  • * Attend mentee talks, A-exam (B-exam if possible) (at least one)
  • * The first CS picnic is a great time to meet and introduce your mentee to people in the department.
  • * Check in 3x in the first semester, 2x in the second and at least once per semester after that.
  • * Get a picture taken with mentee. That way you know one another!
  • * Help mentee find study groups for classes if they are shy / having trouble (use other mentors to connect your mentees).
  • * Ask (and share) intentions program goals, funding, personal priorities and potential constraints. While these may be vague at first, know your mentee so you can help direct them to resources (meetings, lectures, classes, email groups) that the might not be aware of.
  • Invite them to your own talks or lab meetings.
  • Send them emails with links to useful resources.
  • Friend mentee on Facebook, Linked In etc., if you use it.
  • Secret Santa your mentee their first year, does not have to be elaborate, but get them a beer / coffee / candy / Cornell coffee mug / Cornell Engineering T shirt; just make them feel thought of!


Your mentor is there to help, so ask for help! Mentees have a responsibility in this relationship as well, to try to be open with mentors, respond to email and instigate meetings if they have concerns or would like assistance.

Some suggestions:

  • * Make and hold a coffee or lunch meeting with your mentor at least once a semester.
  • * Respond to your mentor’s emails, initiate contact if at all possible.
  • * Get your picture taken with your mentor!
  • * Show up at mentor / mentee coffees, at least for the first year or two, remind and encourage your mentor to go if they forget; they are likely to be busy too!
  • Friend mentor on Facebook, Linked In etc., if you use it.
  • Ask questions. Your mentor should be a safe person to talk with about anything school related.
  • Talk to the Mentor Czars if you are not getting help or getting along with your mentor! We can find you a new mentor.

Nice things you can do for each other

  • Help with finding a job / field / summer internship.
  • Watch practice talks for conferences or lab group meetings.
  • Review their paper prior to submission.
  • Help with shopping, moving, finding a place, travel arrangements, etc.
  • Invite them to talks / seminars / colloquia of interest (especially regular ones).

Mentorship Meetings

It is important to have Mentorship related meetings! Both Mentor and Mentee should try to instigate them. Our 2014 mentorship feedback survey reports that satisfaction with the relationship increases as participants have more mentorship related contacts.

Czar-Mentor-Feedback-2014-Meet-Related.png Czar-Mentor-Feedback-2014-Meet-Unrelated.png
Frequency of mentorship related contacts
vs. program satisfaction (Corr R=.66)
Frequency of ALL contacts
vs. program satisfaction (Corr R=.38)