Job Description for Mentors

Expectations of Mentors

Being a mentor is an important job that requires some time commitment. Mentors should expect to meet with their mentees in their “mentor capacity” around ten times over the course of 1.5-2 years. The total number of hours required of each mentor will vary tremendously with circumstance, but a rough estimate for the total time commitment over the full two years is 7-15 hours. Meetings at the beginning of the first year are the most important; students who expect to be out of town or very busy during that time probably should not volunteer to be mentors. First- and second-year students thank you for your time – thanks for volunteering!

Meeting times

Mentors should meet with their mentees somewhat regularly, averaging out to about five times a year. At the beginning of the first year, there are some milestone events that meetings should definitely be scheduled for; as the mentees settle in, scheduling meetings becomes more flexible.

The Mentor Masters should ensure that the “milestone” meetings occur. But, of course, if this fails to happen, mentors should arrange them independently. The milestones include:

  • when the mentee arrives in Berkeley (see below)
  • the first all-class lunch (during orientation)
  • after 2-3 weeks of classes
  • before the first 201 midterm

From then on, some suggested meeting times are:

  • late November/early December
  • 2-3 weeks into second semester
  • middle of second semester
  • summer after first year
  • twice during first semester of second year
  • once or twice during second semester of second year

When Your Mentee Arrives

The day that a new student first comes in to Campbell is a significant one for them – first impressions being important and all. We hope that it'll help new students to start on the right foot by having their mentors meet them and show them around over the course of their first day. In practice, most new students seem to get fairly settled quickly, and after the very basics are taken care of, they usually settle down in front of a laptop and don't need more attention. But ensure that your mentee knows that you're at his or her disposal throughout the day, and any extra efforts you put in to make them feel welcome (having lunch, introducing them to other students, etc.) are likely to be appreciated.


If your mentee will not be working with anyone over the summer and will only arrive just before classes start, then they will likely come to campus for the first time for the department orientation (typically the Wednesday or Thursday before the mandatory Friday GSI orientation). If this is the case, you should plan on meeting them at the orientation and most of the other work will be taken care of by the mentor masters organizing. If your mentee arrives prior to or after the orientation, you will be responsible for getting them set up in the department. Below is the basic plan for what to do when your mentee arrives:

  • Stay in sufficient contact with your mentee to know when he/she will be arriving and when he/she intends to show up to Campbell/HFA. Ideally, you'll find out what day he/she will arrive in Berkeley fairly early, and after he/she arrives, you'll find out what day and time he/she expects to show up to Campbell/HFA (typically the day of the department orientation if he/she is not working here over the summer).
  • Ensure that someone will be there to greet your mentee. Ideally, this is you. If not, a Mentor Master should help if possible. If no Mentor Master is available, another mentor or a friend would be a good choice, but anyone who's willing to take on the responsibility will do. (Emphasis on the word “responsibility”…) This task is more difficult because arrival times have a tendency to change rapidly, but do the best you can.
  • Arrange a way to meet your mentee when he/she gets to Campbell. The easiest thing is probably to tell him/her to go to your office, and to make sure to be in your office over a fairly hefty window of time around the one planned. It'd probably be helpful to give your cell phone number to your mentee.
  • Obtain a welcome packet from the mentor masters.
  • Meet your student. Chit-chat a bit before getting down to business.
  • Give him/her a packet.
  • Take the student by Dexter's office and introduce him/her. I don't think Dexter needs any particular info from the students, but she'll want to know that they're in, and of course it's very good for the student to know who and where Dexter is.
  • Take the student by Nina's office to get office assignment and keys (this will probably change when we're in HFA).
  • Let the student know that El Hoffman will be emailing them to set up an appointment to fill out payroll forms, etc.
  • From here on out, it's up to the student. We ask that you let your mentee know that you're at their disposal and spend time with them if that's what they want. Some possible courses of action are:
    • Start picking off items on the New Grad Student Checklist
    • Hang out in your office and kill time for the rest of the day
    • Take your mentee out to lunch
    • Show the mentee to his/her office, watch him whip out her laptop, take your leave
  • If you've got social events going on, it'd be nice to invite your mentee if appropriate.

Tips for mentors

Mentors are encouraged to discuss the following topics with their mentees:

  • what are you supposed to get out of your first year?
  • help with choosing classes
  • how teaching is going
  • applying for fellowships
  • when to start doing research
  • how to choose an advisor
  • is anyone making them feel uncomfortable?
  • steps to getting residency
  • the real world: extracurricular activities, social life, housing, etc.
  • the prelim: what it is all about and how and when to prepare for it

Other recommendations:

  • introduce your mentee to other students
  • invite your mentee to join in social activities with you
  • encourage your mentee to bring up issues with the student-faculty rep or department chair